I used to binge watch all of Shallon Lester’s YouTube videos but stopped when I stopped consuming dating advice. However, I decided to watch some of her videos today as entertainment and because I usually like what she has to say in terms of self-empowerment and career advice. But of course I didn’t just watch career videos because who could resist some of the celebrity gossip. (And I totally agree with her that Wonder isn’t exactly Shawn Mendes’s best work to date.)
It was in this video about Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello (10:47), however, where she said something that really stuck out to me. Shallon said that she took a storytelling class in college and that the professor told the class that “children are attracted to certain fairytales for very specific reasons, like they ping something up inside of them,” and she goes on to explain why Sleeping Beauty was her favorite fairytale.
And holy shit did it hit me.
My favorite princesses were Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Jasmine from Aladdin. I loved mermaids, I loved to swim as a kid. Yes, all the Disney princesses sing but for Ariel, her voice and her singing was a central part of who she was and I also love to sing (especially Disney songs). Both Jasmine and Ariel feel confined and constrained by their circumstances – for Ariel it’s her dad and for Jasmine it’s the archaic marriage laws. I grew up in a very conservative, sheltered religious family, was sent to a private Christian school, and I certainly felt controlled by my father.
Another slightly odd thing about me is that I have a very strong preference for men with naturally red hair… Coincidence? You tell me.
It’s also interesting to note that, Ariel and Jasmine were the only two Disney Princesses with outfits that exposed their midriffs (pre-Moana). And of course, in a conservative religious family, I was force-fed the ideas of Christian modesty. I remember getting a stern lecture from my childhood best friend’s mom when I was at their house one day because I called Jasmine’s outfit “hot” and I was probably no older than 8 at the time.
But aside from that incident, it wasn’t until around middle school when I started to argue with my mom in stores about clothes and shoes and to really feel like I was being controlled and restricted by my dad (for no good reason because all things considered, I was a “good kid”).
Ariel was my favorite princess since I was 4 years old so I think even before my tween years, I had already absorbed the messaging and conditioning that comes along with being raised the way that I was. I can’t point to any specific event or circumstance or traumatic event that would have made me feel overly sheltered and controlled at 4, other than that time at my friend’s house but that happened when I was 8.
Kids are smart; they’re smarter than we often give them credit for. Children are very perceptive and can pick up on things, even the intangible feelings that linger in the air. And often those vibes are the most impactful, especially at an early age. I wrote before that I got in trouble for masturbating as a kid and I could feel the shame in the air.
Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, they’re very perceptive & unspoken vibes are the most impactful, especially at an early age.Tweet
So by the time I was in middle school and arguing with my mom in stores over clothes and shoes, I knew why. Whenever she disapproved of something, she would use her classic line, “That’s too adult for you.” No, you can’t buy those heels, they’re too adult for you. No, you can’t wear those earrings, they’re too adult for you.
I would always ask what that even meant and why the stuff I wanted was “too adult for me.” I never got a straight answer. The word sexy was never uttered, just the same tired phrases about me being “her baby” or “too young.” But I got the message:
Not that she ever used that word. I didn’t even know of that word at the time but I understood the implications nonetheless. Words can hurt. And sometimes, words aren’t even needed for the damage to be done.
Words can hurt. And sometimes, words aren’t even needed for the damage to be done.Tweet
I know my parents were doing what they believe is the right thing. I know they were trying to “protect” me. Yet they still did a lot of damage to me and my sexuality. I hesitate to use the word trauma because I would hate to diminish anyone else’s experience with rape or sexual assault, things that I’ve never experienced. I also think trauma comes in many forms and that comparing and playing the “who had it worse” game is hurtful and victimizing for everyone.
Trauma comes in many forms & comparing & playing the “who had it worse” game is hurtful & victimizing for everyone.Tweet
Given my experience, it’s not surprising that I struggle to fully enjoy sex and as a result I’ve become obsessed with sexual/spiritual healing, jade eggs, and pelvic floor strengthening. I was never a crazy rebellious teen or a party animal and I haven’t had loads of casual sex. I still don’t wear crop tops or two-piece swimsuits. So I suppose that this is my way of rebelling. One word at a time.