I think it’s pretty safe to assume that I love Disney more than your average person. I mean if my hoards of Disney shirts, pajama pants, shoes, socks, watch, and nickname didn’t give it away, then clearly you've missed something.
Needless to say, My friends Danielle, Ambika, Emily and I all went to Disneyland on Friday morning June 8th. We decided to go get pictures with characters. Of course, on my agenda was a picture with Nick and Judy from Zootopia, so I asked the guy designating the line where they were. To my dismay, he told us they were only in California Adventure.He explained that if we wanted to upgrade our ticket to park hopper, we could see them, but none of us has the money to. The conversation could have stopped there. But instead, he asked for my name and ran off. He comes back a few minutes later and asks for how many people are in our party, if he could see our tickets, and my name again. He tells us to wait here and then runs off again. As you can imagine, we are more than a little confused. He comes back and says, “Okay, you’re going to go to City Hall and ask for Hailee, and she’ll have a special surprise for you. Just remember, 2:20 is your magic time.” We thank him for whatever lied in store and started walking, anxious and curious. When we get to City Hall, we find Hailee and she at first tells us nothing still as she’s gathering our names and info. Then she says, “Okay, thanks to Julian we are going to go ahead and give all of you park hopper tickets so you’ll have admittance into both parks for the rest of the day and so you can meet Nick and Judy at 2:20.” Wait….what? Did they just give us free tickets just cause I asked if Nick and Judy were at Disneyland? But wait. We turned to each other and I asked them if it was okay since we were probably going to miss a few rides and that we might not have time to get our pretzels, to which we all agreed was more than fine. Nonetheless, Hailee listened to our convo and before our very eyes gave us a written slip for four free pretzels and 6 fast passes between both parks. “I don’t want you guys to miss out on any rides.” Well at that point I burst into tears. We got our pretzels ran over to the other park, still in shock. We went on Tower of Terror in 5 minutes. I gave him my card and we were put in immediate fast lane. Afterward, we finally found Nick and Judy!!! Needless to say tears were shed. Literally. Judy left right before my turn though so we went on cars(in 15 min.) and came back at the time they told us she’d return. Unfortunately when we got back, they said Judy had left the park for the day. The employee said, “No, no, that really sucks and you were next to see her and we wanna make this a magical day,” to which I told her that it already was and that I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Nonetheless, she offered me and my friends fast passes to the new Soarin’ Over the World ride. We were personally escorted to the ride and to the fast pass lane. We had fabulous reservations for Rainforest Cafe and we wrote Julian a sincere note on the back of an order slip. It’s the best we could do, but might I just say that that day was singlehandedly the most magical day of my life. We left the park at 12:30 am skipping and dancing down main street with sore cheeks from smiling so much. It was the type of genuine happiness that doesn't come from just any casual hang out or lunch date. It was real, thorough, beautiful bliss. Mickey Mouse and his partners in crime gave this Mickey the best day of her life.
Now here's the question you're probably asking: what does any of this have to do with body positivity and self love? Well, my dear reader, it has everything to do with it. Think about it.
You make a wrong turn, someone flips you off. You see a beautiful girl who you think has a "better body" than you walking down the street and you whisper to yourself, "I hate her." You accidentally cut someone in line and they go ballistic. You see someone homeless and struggling on the street and you drive past without a care because heck, they got themselves there. The fact is, people in general have stopped celebrating each other. Instead, we're all bred on insecurities that make us turn on one another. Women are pinned against other women, blacks and Muslims and you name it are pinned against whites, science is pinned against religion-every man for himself. That is not what I believe in. I believe that we should not be teaching our children to hate, judge, ridicule, discriminate, or belittle themselves or others and brush it off with, "Well that's just the way the world works nowadays." Here we have the power of the media, and we use it to tell men and women that they need various products to make themselves better because obviously there's something wrong with them as they are. They can't love themselves if they're fat. Skinny shaming is okay. Boys will be boys. Shrink your belly. Shrink your arms. Shrink yourself. Where are the voices telling you that it's okay to take up space? To dream beyond just being eye candy? Where's the media emphasizing the wonder in each of us and our potential as human beings?
Yup, I'm serious. Disney. True, some of the more dated Disney classics could do with a little more body diversity and perhaps a bit more empowerment for a woman beyond getting a man, but I believe Disney has changed and grown alongside the rest of the world. Take Zootopia for example.
Here I thought I was just in for a little bunny/fox cop movie. As you can imagine, after going back to see it in theaters 5 times, I found there was much more there. I fell in love with it. Of course I loved the world Disney created, and I loved the script. I loved the characters and the message. Of course I found I resonated with Judy Hopps' zeal, passion, determination, work ethic, and desire to irradiate social injustices, but none of those things were quite hitting the mark. Why in the world did I love this movie so much?
The answer came that wonderful day with my friends at Disneyland. It's no secret that Disney has a lot of money. Name an industry, and Disney probably has some small claim on it. They own practically everything. They have a lot of influence. They have a lot of fans. They have a lot of power.
And they use it for good. They use it to tell kids that they are enough.
See, my job as admin of @bodyloveandbeyond is to find all the ways the media tries to manipulate us into believing that we are less than. That we must strive for perfection continually. That our goal in life is to be good enough for other people, not for ourselves. But Disney uses its power to teach us that we can be anything we want to be. We can let our dreams be big. We can take up space and believe in magic and believe in each other. All the while creating social change.
In Zootopia's case, I was dumbfounded. Here was quite possibly the most honest, beautiful, and thoughtful movie Disney has ever made. Stereotyping, judging, ridiculing, and provoking hate and fear from one another does not have to be our reality. There are still loving and wonderful people on this planet like those employees at Disneyland that just want to make you smile-that remember to use their actions for good and cherish childhood and kindness. After leaving the theater the first time, I felt that I had just been given permission to be imperfect and to make mistakes. So in the wise words of Judy Hopps:
"When I was a kid, I thought this world would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life's a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us."
So thank you Disney for being the change we'd like to see in the world and for showing me that I'm not alone. We really can make the world a better place.