My childhood consisted of what was probably the height of Disney’s great animated feature length films. The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and, of course, Beauty and the Beast.
BATB was always my favorite. I told people it was because I was Belle. You know, brown hair, brown eyes, lovely singing voice, sense of adventure, wore a dress my favorite shade of blue, and was the quirky, bookworm outsider. There were certainly parallels. But I am not the most beautiful girl in town. The gal the town jock is trying to win over? Hardly.
It was a lie. Belle wasn’t the one I identified with… it was the Beast. And not “the Beast” as in “Prince who got transformed into a monster,” but as in a Beast. Misguided, sure, but a Beast nonetheless. And the line that always stuck in my head?
Who could ever learn to love a Beast?
In that story, the answer is Belle. In mine… I’m not sure. Admittedly, I haven’t done a great job of Loving myself. In fact, that benchmark is kind of high. I’d settle for not hating myself most days.
Likewise, Phantom of the Opera has always been a love of mine. The Broadway play is my favorite, but the book is good too, though very different. Of course in both you have the Phantom, the talented, yet hideous, creature who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. Seeing a pattern here? All these creatures with supposed “hidden beauty,” looking for Love. The Beast actually finds it–Go Figure!–but the Phantom is not so fortunate.
I guess real life isn’t as dire as fiction. I might not be the leading lady, but I do have a nose and I’m not that hairy (even without shaving). Yet, like these characters, I’ve never really felt like the real me was all that visible.