people talk about the danger of violence or overt sexuality in children’s entertainment, but i swear that nothing, nothing fucked me up as badly as the totally family-friendly, g-rated trope of “woman who is not traditionally attractive flirts with our male lead; aren’t her romantic and/or sexual desires inherently disgusting, and thus hilarious?”
and like, at least when i was growing up, it was everywhere: disney movies, saturday morning cartoons–i think it was maybe even more common in stuff aimed at kids, because when you’re not allowed to go blue, there are fewer ways to get a lazy, cheap laugh.
i was freckle-faced and chubby as a kid (both, of course, common cartoon shorthand for “this girl is hideous”), and i literally cannot remember being too young to feel bad about how i looked. i’m sure my baby fat didn’t bother me when i was an actual baby, but my body issues are at least as old as my conscious memory. thank god i had access to feminism and cultural criticism from a comically young age; it rarely protected me from pain but at least i’d heard that it was wrong to send a message that beautiful princesses are protagonists and ugly girls are punchlines.
(as if we have to earn the right to even just want romantic love, to even just feel something for somebody else, as if we have to cash in tiny noses and perfect lips and tiny bodies like fucking arcade tokens before our heartsong is anything but a mean joke)
and granted, there were other issues at play; i’m not pinning all my baggage on, say, that part in aladdin where the fat lady with a gap in her teeth catches him while he’s running for his life and sings that she thinks he’s “rather tasty” and aladdin’s face is all “UGH, OH NOOO,” but i swear i didn’t start to internalize “no decent human being would be grossed out by your romantic interest, or even just find it so ludicrous as to be funny” until about six years ago
and i am five fucking days away from turning thirty