Life in “Toy Story” Moments — Part 2

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Even from my earliest memories, my life had been decided for me.

I knew my expectations; meet the “right” guy — white, at least three years older than me, conservative, Christian — marry, have kids and be a stay-at-home mom. This was the pursuit of every good, “Christian” woman and girl.

Even then, I was different.

I didn’t want to get married, it sounded gross. I didn’t want to have kids, and even then, had zero interesting caring for even a doll or Barbie. The thought of kids actually scared me. And I certainly didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. My mom didn’t do anything; it looked boring.

I wanted to do something with my life; tell stories, go to work and be around real live people. I wanted to live in Seattle. Heck, I wanted desperately to be the next Steve Pool (and, by the age of 7, swore I would take over his job in twenty years).

It was around this time, and in the middle of what was planned for me, and what I wanted from life, that I watched the film Beauty and the Beast in theaters.

This film is memorable to me for a few reasons.

The first, is that it’s the first film I recall watching in theaters. I have vague memories of watching An American Tale, The Land Before Time, and even Oliver and Company, but even to this day, I only recall bits and pieces on the big screen. But Beauty and the Beast is the first movie I recall watching the whole thing, from beginning to end.

The second was the story, music and technology. It was the first time that I saw for myself, what all three of these qualities, when combined with great animation, could do. Needless to say, I was blown away. I think the first seeds of the writer I have become were planted on that Thanksgiving Night.

But the third that had the strongest impact. Belle was the first princess, heroine, and woman I ever connected to on a personal, deep level. She not only looked a little like me — as we both have brown hair and eyes — Belle was unlike any other “princess” I had ever seen.

She was bookworm, like me. Smart, funny, witty, headstrong, never let anyone push her around (I was a least a few of those things). But most of all, she knew what it was like to be different.

As noted above, I already didn’t fit into the expectations my mom had for me and my sisters. At the time, I was also faced with the social awkwardness of undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome and limitations of near-nearsightedness, conditions I wouldn’t be treated for until well into adulthood.

In fact, the first song I ever claimed as “my own” (aside from Michael W. Smith’s “Place in this World”) was the “Belle Reprise,” sung by Paige O’Hara.

I still know the lyrics by heart;

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere/I want it more than I can tell/And for once, it might be grand/To have someone understand/I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”

I sat up, my eyes wide, and gasped, “You get it.”

Never had I felt anyone ever understood what I felt, ever understood me, until that moment.

To this day, Belle remains one of my favorite heroines. A headstrong bookworm, not afraid of standing up for herself. She continues to be an inspiration.

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Tiffany Elliott

Writer with 15 + years experience; journalist, editor, freelancer, and play write. Advocate for the arts and rights of expendables. tiffanyelliott84@gmail.com