It’s time for another runDisney race, and that means it’s time for another #VirtualRunDisney Blog Hop. Hosted by the lovely ladies over at Distherapy and Margaritas, Miles & the Mouse. Visit their blogs, and click on the link below to revel in the goodness that is the Virtual runDisney Blog Hop!
Let’s get one thing out of the way, right away. I am not a “girly” girl. I live in workout clothes, I really only wear make-up for special occasions or on stage, I don’t do jewelry and I don’t “squee”.
Oh, I may have had my flashes, as a little girl. I loved my dolls and stuffed animals, but I really, really loved my remote control jeep. There was nothing better than tumbling around, tangle-haired with the dogs.
I didn’t understand why Cinderella was so keen on putting on a (admittedly pretty) dress and going to the ball to find a man when she could hang around in her bare feet with her animal friends who could MAKE CLOTHES. Dude. I’d hang out with those critters and get a clothing shop going! I don’t think they can call it a sweat shop if the workers are incapable of sweating, right?
Honestly, “Princess” has always had a negative connotation to me – princesses were entitled, spoiled prissies. They weren’t tough. After all, who hasn’t heard the dismissive term, “Suck it up, Princess”. I didn’t want to be a Princess…
Wait. Leia! She was a Princess, and she was tough as hell. She may have been rescued on that Star Destroyer, but she also did her fair share of rescuing. She rescued people in totally bad-ass ways.
But I digress.
The Princess Half Marathon was my very first race, back in 2012. Back then, I had no idea that people dressed up in costume to run these races, so imagine my amusement when this moderately cynical comedian saw gals (and guys) toeing the line all decked out as their favourite Disney Princess. So much pink! So much tulle! So many tiaras! (And I privately worried that some may have focussed more on the “Princess” end of the race and less on the “Half Marathon” end of it and would end their morning wearing a huge tutu and crying on a sweeper bus).
But then, I saw the sparkle in their eyes and their pure joy as they ran from photo opportunity to photo opportunity.
Was I missing something by being a fuddy-duddy? Was my instinctive “women don’t need rescuing by princes” independent streak making me miss the point? Was I taking the “Princess” thing too literally? (My mom wouldn’t let us watch “All In the Family” because it was “sexist” – totally missing the point, and it wasn’t until I learned what ‘satire’ was that I understood humour could be a powerful tool…)
I admit, I personally struggle with the portrayal of women, the occasional lack of depth of character in Disney’s earlier Princesses along with a lot of our popular culture, but that’s my hang-up. I’m pretty loose with my brand of feminism, but I know (and YOU know) we’re more than shoes and glitter. That by calling a race “woman themed” and branding it with swirly font and lots of pink and soft purples does not, somehow diminish the actual physical feat of racing for 13.1 (or 6.2, or 19.3) miles.
Hey, I’m no hater. Who am I to judge a hard-working mom, a highly successful career woman, an athlete or a first time runner if they wanted to add a little escapism to their run? What’s the harm in dressing up as your daughters’ favourite princess (or fairy) if she’s watching you accomplish an amazing physical feat AS that character? It shows that you can’t judge a book by it’s delicate cover, and you just made Cinderella 100% more bad-ass by throwing away some stupid, impractical glass shoes.
The truth is, when I ran the Princess Half Marathon in 2012 I learned that the women around me were better than “Princesses”. They were all bad-asses. They worked their butts off through the fall and winter (or longer). Through family conflicts, through work emergencies, through injuries, illnesses and personal struggles. They were pushing their bodies to do things that some of them had never thought possible. Some were running for their families, some were running for charities but most importantly they were all running for themselves.
We we were all discovering our potential. Learning a little bit about our own true, personal power.
And that. That is a crowning achievement if I’ve ever heard one.
I’ll see you at the start line for the Glass Slipper Challenge this year. I may not be dressed as a princess, but I will give hearty fist-bumps and admiring hugs to those who are.
Do you think “Woman Themed” races are any less ‘legit’ than co-ed races? Do we need them?
I am an actor/writer/director based in Chicago, IL.