Vashti is the princess my daughters needed

When my girls were little, I thought very carefully about what movies they would watch.

By Anita Silvert

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First ones considered were MGM musicals. Always. Except for Oliver. No daughter of mine needed to hear some woman sing about how “As Long as He Needs Me” right before he beats her to death.

Disney movies provided a unique challenge, though many parents show them without thinking. I didn’t. First, the moms in these stories are usually dead, wicked, witches, or significantly absent. And second, there was always a scary part, which required me to sit with the girls to get through it. The reason I sat them down in front of a movie was so that I could get something else done, right?!

I started thinking about the Disney women. Of course they were all beautiful. Ariel? She wanted something and wouldn’t give up until she got it, no matter the cost. Belle? She loved to read, (her gift was a whole library!!) and saw past the way someone looked. Even Cinderella and Snow White had redeeming story lines; yes, they were all rescued by a handsome prince, but they worked hard and stayed true to themselves their whole lives, even when a prince wasn’t on the horizon.

When it came to Sleeping Beauty, I said no. First, she had no name at first, only her physical appearance to describe her. Second, her only “crime” was curiosity, and when she acted on it, she was severely punished. Her rescue was another handsome prince, who only knew her from her beauty, not anything else about her character.

Of course, these are simplistic overviews about the whole Disney princess thing, but for me, making these distinctions was important. Vashti and Esther were queens, and Vashti’s character wasn’t rewarded or even acknowledged; it was only her beauty and her insistence that she be seen as a whole person that got her in trouble with the King.

Here’s to Vashti, a different kind of Disney princess….one who knew her value lay beyond her beauty, and drew the line when no one else did.