Do you feel it, friends? It seems like everyone is coming down with an acute case of Beauty and the Beast fever these days! With Disney’s release of Beauty and the Beast last week, the tale as old as time is on everyone’s must-see list; I’ve been counting down the days until the film’s release myself and completely fell in love all over again every time I’d see the trailer! It’s magical, isn’t it? I’ve also been anxiously waiting to share my essay on SheKnows! It’s my first for the women’s site and it’s about how my disability has really made me identify with the Beast.
It’s called “How Beauty and the Beast Became My Story” and — SPOILER ALERT!!! — in my story, I’m not Belle. I’m the Beast. It’s funny because both my mom and sister read it and said it made them kind of sad, but I actually feel the opposite about it. Writing this essay, I never once looked at this as a depressing or heartbreaking thing. I was merely sharing a part of myself, a part of my story, and that felt incredibly powerful and freeing, to say the least.
Here’s an excerpt of the essay, in which I admit to the world that I’m probably the only girl on the planet who did not identify with Belle…
A big part of me felt like I was on an island, as if I was living alone in my own private castle, just like the Beast. I may not have consciously locked myself away, but I definitely didn’t do much to put myself out there, either, especially where love was concerned. It was probably just better to keep to myself instead of taking a chance and getting hurt, I reasoned. Who could ever love a girl in a wheelchair, I wondered?
Looking back, maybe I’d always felt like the Beast. I never understood it much as a child, but as I’ve journeyed through adulthood, the story has become my story. I never felt like people “saw me” – not the real me, anyway. They just always saw the outside – my deformed body and my wheelchair – and quickly made their assumptions. Assumptions that were, more often than not, completely off base.
You can read the full essay here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo