This is gonna be my new thumbnail photo, because the other day I was talking to my mom and I got to thinking…
At one point when my sister and I were really young (me being the youngest), my parents decided that we could decorate our rooms in any theme we wanted. My sister having dark hair and tan skin, decided that she wanted her room to be decorated with the Disney Princesses that looked like her - those being Jasmine and Pocahontas.
I also wanted a Disney themed bedroom, and at the time ‘The Lion King’ had just come to theaters everywhere and I loved it, so that’s what I got. And I thought it was great. I would spend hours (well, huge chunks of minutes anyway) staring at the wall clings clad in Disney safari animals. And when I went to sleep, I would use my finger to trace the outlines of the Simba and Nala images that covered my comforter and pillow.
I loved it, dearly.
Then, one day, probably on the eve of my puberty, I looked around.
I looked at my sister’s room that was decorated in pinks, purples, flowers, and beautifully graceful princesses. And then I looked at my own room, which was covered in reds, blues, elephants, and wildebeests. And lions, of course. Baby lions.
It didn’t take long for the discontent to set in.
During that time, as I began to enter into those early stages of womanhood, I had a nagging feeling in my head. Like I never knew what to do with or about anything. I always felt that there was some huge memo that went out to girls when they entered Jr. High, and I missed it. My sister seemed to have gotten it, and I was angry that I hadn’t. Sure, my mom had helped usher me through the basics, but this “memo” felt like it went beyond any of that.
And for a long time I resented my Lion King room. I think something in me felt that I had been held back by it. If only I hadn’t loved Simba so much, I would have been able to see that it wasn’t cool for me to love Simba so much. When my mom was decorating my room, WHY couldn’t I have picked Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella?? Why was I always out of step??
The other day, in the conversation with my mom, I alluded to the comedy of the situation back then. I said something like that it revealed something about my inner quirks as a kid, that I was the only little girl not to want a princess room. My mom laughed at the thought, but in the end I realized that she did me a favor way back then. She could have done what any mom might do, and forced me to have a princess room. She could have said something like, “No no, sweety! Lions and zebras are for a boy’s room! Don’t you want your room to be pretty like a princess’s? You look like Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty, so how about we put THEM in your room?”
But instead she let me choose what I liked, and I liked Simba. And my sister liked princesses. And that was okay. She never demanded that I be a princess. She never told me there was something I couldn’t do because I was a girl (aside from peeing in the snow). Maybe there were times when I wished I knew how to be more girly, but that’s only because the world made me feel like I had to be that way.
Maybe, in the end, it was okay that I never really got that memo.