I want to apologise to all the women I have called pretty before I have called them brave or intelligent. It seems such an ordinary thing to call a girl pretty and a man strong. However, it is not. Women can be strong with red lipstick and flowery dresses. They can conquer the world by crushing the necks of their enemies under their 6 inch heels. Girls have always been taught to be things like pretty, sensitive, petite and lady-like. Nobody ever told them that it is okay to have a husky voice, short hair and look bold. Everyone is a different kind of beautiful. There is the girl who rocks that pixie cut. The girl who wears cowboy boots and smiles as wide as the sea's perpetual flow. There is that girl who wears glasses and you swear you can see galaxies in her eyes. That girl who has a goofy laugh but is so loved. The girl who lives across the street wears a red dress and Nike; she could light up the whole damn sky. They are all beautiful in their own way but they are taught to believe differently.
In fact, the Disney princesses have so much to offer. The Disney princesses that we grew up with should be the females we look up to.
Give me Ariel, gambling with everything she has to go on an adventure to see what is out there.
Give me Mulan, wielding her sword to protect those she love, to prove what is right.
Give me Lilo, finding beauty in everything, holding onto her passion although the world branded her a freak.
Give me Belle, seeing the beast in the man and the man in the beast, letting her own fairytale unfold because she believes.
Give me Cinderella, rising from the ashes to be the princess she deserves to be, give me to a woman who remembered to be kind.
Give me Snow White, who found kindness in others when people who were supposed to take care of her failed.
Give me Rapunzel, for so long loyal to a mother who did not care for her. For someone so abused yet so unafraid.
Give me Jasmine, accustomed to the touch of the finest silk but fierce and true enough to let her heart touch by a street rat.
Give me princesses who are strong, kind and fierce. Give me beauty and grace and power and will. Give me something to laugh at when a man condescendingly calls me a princess and thinks that he has shown me my place. Give me a throne and I will reign. Give me a voice and I will sing to you a song of glittery queens who found their palaces. Give me a dream and I will fight for it.
Your beauty is not defined by your skin colour or your eyebrows being on point. It is the time when you pay your bills with you head held high, when you remember to be compassionate and humble. It is when you stay up all night just to be somebody's shoulder to cry on. It is the way the sunlight falls on your skin and the laugh that echoes in your house. It is the way you like to walk along the beach and let the ocean draw you close. Powerful, unceasing and the unspeakable beauty.
Leo Shaili Shah
Leo Club of Juhu