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First Loves and Other Fairytales

By Jessica Pelton

My longest and most committed relationship has been to my first love: fairytales.

Everyone always asks how we met, but it’s a tale as old as time, really; my parents introduced us. They sat me down in front of the TV as a kid to watch The Little Mermaid, and by the time Ariel and Eric were being serenaded on a romantic nighttime boat ride, I was a goner. We already had a lot in common: we loved colorful clothing, cute animals, and socializing with other children. We also shared an essential core value: a belief in magic and happy endings.

The early years of our relationship were a borderline-obsessive whirlwind of re-watching Disney movies, accumulating Halloween costumes (mostly of Belle since we both have brown hair and accuracy was essential), and constructing an elaborate princess-themed bedroom complete with a bright pink canopy bed and at least two tiaras. But as often occurs in relationships, one of us began to outgrow the other.

I eventually had my parents remove my canopy bed and covertly smuggled my ballgown-bedecked Barbies into various hiding places, because despite the strength of my affection, I began to suspect that me and fairytales were a bit star-crossed. I was told that to grow was to stop believing in magic, and unfortunately, I believed it.

But it turns out that you can grow together in a relationship, and by the end of elementary school I discovered another, even more addictive, side to fairytales: books. I found myself searching for Victorian-style dresses and anthropomorphic animals on all my library book covers, and it was the start of an entirely new honeymoon phase. I simply couldn’t keep my hands off fairytales. I was the kid who, when everyone else fawned over Anne Hathaway’s Ella Enchanted, I said, “Oh, I love that book!” And if you think that there are a lot of remakes of Cinderella movies, you should check out your local library sometime.

My relationship with fairytales has grown and evolved, but I will never stop loving them. They gave me entertainment but also a long-lasting passion for musicals, and they introduced me to books to which I continuously return. Not every fairytale is perfect, what with Disney’s history of problematic gender roles and borderline-necrophilic “Prince Charmings”. But stories are just as varied and complex as the people who create and love them, and I can appreciate the joy that older fairytales brought me while simultaneously being grateful for the positive ways in which they have evolved. Ultimately, fairytales remind us that a belief in the magical, whatever that word may mean to you, is not only timeless but also ageless. And if I continue to suspect that, if I wait long enough, one day a bespelled animal will talk to me, then that’s a small price to pay.