What Disney Princesses Can Teach Us: Seriously, Hear Me Out

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Maybe you’ve noticed your friends on Facebook posting these cryptic messages: “I’m Dumbledore” or “I’m Scarlett O’Hara” or the like.


    On further reading, we discover that your friend has taken some kind of online quiz asking him or her to identify with a character in a particular movie or work of literature.


    Okay, let’s cut through the confusion: Whoever the outsider character is, that’s the one I identify with, and I suspect so do you. We have our illness in large part to thank for that. 


    I like to joke that maybe one day aliens will abduct me and kindly return me to the planet of my birth. I didn’t just come up with that out of the blue. This from Barbara, who left a comment on my mcmanweb site, which I republished in my 2006 book, "Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder":

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    My greatest wish would be if the world changed instead of me. If I could find a place where people would like me for exactly who I am, and not be afraid or treat me differently for being eccentric or unusual. I have been treated like a scary criminal a few too many times in my life.


    Crazy thing, literature is full of heroic outsiders and they pop up in the most unexpected places. Recall, for instance, those classic Disney princesses. Up until the happily ever after part, Cinderella’s life was not exactly a Princess Cruise.


    In the meantime, through the very worst, she somehow manages to keep hope alive. As she counsels her animal friends: “The dream that you wish will come true.” 


    As for Disney’s latest iteration - we have Elsa, fearful of her powers, sequestering herself in an ice palace. Life is cold and bleak. Then she experiences her life-changing realization. “Let it go,” she belts out from a lonely summit. 


    Badasses to the bone, these Disney princesses, and that brings us to the critical issue: Had things not turned out well for either one, they would be no less admirable. Maybe that is the purpose to our life on earth. Not necessarily to succeed, but to gain insight and wisdom through hardship and suffering.


    There is no better curriculum for that than life as an outsider. Crazy thing, those that would condemn us to life on the fringe are the very ones who envy us. The proof is in our culture - both popular and highbrow. Our books and movies actually celebrate the outsider.


    And here we are, charter members.


    Let’s see: Which Disney princess am I? Never mind ...

Published On: July 14, 2014