By Natalie Parker:
My story begins with a book, a thick hardcover one with the title in a fancy font, and it looks like it has a lot of pages even though the only ones that actually matter are like the first four, the last one, and some random ones in the middle for when it’s hard to come up with a more creative transition. The book opens magically on its own and a disembodied voice starts to narrate the words on the page. That disembodied voice is me, because I want to have this trope but still not be called lazy for it so I have to do a half-assed job of attempting to lampoon it. I read some boring exposition that most people are going to forget immediately, and then the camera zooms into one of the pictures, and, GASP! It’s moving now! Then the action finally starts.
It’s my birthday, and I’m sitting there in my new jewel-encrusted throne—I wanted one made of just diamonds, but my dad said that a diamond throne didn’t actually look as impressive as it sounded, so I got the gold-backed kind with the self-cleaning gems and the massage function—looking all prim and princess-y and beautiful with my new crushed emerald eyeshadow, and I’m watching the guests come in. For plot convenience, the first guest is this prince I’m engaged to and his father. I don’t know the prince at all and his face is super bland, but at some point in the second act we’re going to fall madly in love. His father is ugly and overweight to a worrying degree and his wife is somewhere. She’s probably like a hundred and ten pounds, has big boobs, and is blond with enormous baby-deer eyes because that’s how it usually goes with these things. Their names are announced and I smile so that I look gracious and kind.
Then some fairies fly down because magic is real (there are no guests in between the prince and the fairies because they would be irrelevant to the story and this isn’t real life). All three are varying degrees of fat to distinguish themselves as comedic relief. The third one is extra fat and is therefore the comedic relief for the comedic relief. They give some magic gifts. The first one waves her little stick wand and gives me beauty, and suddenly the entire architecture of my face and body morphs to fit into a Barbie-doll version of beauty. My eyes grow bigger, my nose smaller, my lips fuller, my cheekbones more prominent. I instantly lose thirty pounds. My hair turns blonde and my makeup transforms so that it looks “natural,” which is annoying because I really liked my crushed-emerald eyeshadow and I didn’t ask for it to basically be stolen off of my face. The entire crowd oohs and aahs because before they didn’t like me all that much but now I’m beautiful, so they’re devoted.
The second fairy gives me “the gift of song.” I open my newly-remade mouth and sing a perfect high C. Everyone applauds. It is totally a plus for a beautiful woman to have a flawless soprano voice.
The third fairy waves her wand and, suddenly, the whole screen goes black. Then some strange white lighting flashes indoors and everyone reappears, except now there’s something new in the center of the room. It’s a super-skinny (because there’s good skinny and there’s bad skinny, and the bad characters have to be the bad kind of skinny) green lady who obviously isn’t wearing “natural” makeup. She’s also dressed in black and purple so that she conveniently stands out from all the people wearing pink and blue and green. She has a pet raven that is perfectly trained to caw at the right moments and never tries to fly away. Its entire purpose is to sit on her magic staff and look scary, even though it weighs like three pounds and could probably be killed with a BB gun. The green woman introduces herself, and wouldn’t you know her entire motivation for showing up all evil-y is that she’s miffed she didn’t get an invitation to the party, like a catty twelve-year-old girl. She makes a couple of dry one-liners that are the only pieces of dialogue anyone will remember from the entire scene, and then announces she’s come to curse me. She lifts her bony fingers with red nail polish (nail polish is evil, obviously) and menacingly tells everyone present that I will die on my sixteenth birthday in an appropriately ladylike manner, which is of course by pricking my finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. Ladies, you must all ensure that your deaths conform to conventional notions of feminine activities.
My father, who has all this time been cowering with my mother, despite the fact that he could pretty easily order all of the people in the room to gang up on and murder this one ninety-pound sorceress, suddenly pipes up in a shaky voice: “Sixteenth birthday? That’s only two years away!”
Here, everything freezes for a moment as everyone in the audience does the mental math and realizes that they have been sexualizing a fourteen year old girl for the past several minutes. Afterwards, the scene unfreezes and continues.
The witch, who somehow has all of her hair swaddled up into some weirdly shaped horns in her head, emits a harsh and unladylike cackle before reciting an enchantment because nobody did anything at all to stop her from committing murder. Finally, after she casts the whole spell, my father finally gets up and asks some soldiers to do something, but instead of immediately rushing at her with their spears, they all just form perfectly parallel lines on either side of the sorceress. Predictably, this assault is ineffective and the witch cackles some more before disappearing into green flames that fail to light anything at all on fire.
Now, the extra fat comedic-relief-for-the-comedic-relief fairy is tasked with the enormous burden of undoing this deadly curse. I haven’t done anything at all for the past several minutes in case any movement I make beyond opening my mouth in horror makes me look the slightest bit ugly, but now I get to make a single #girlboss remark about how I can totally fight off the spell myself before the fairies tell me that it’s magic and I can’t do anything about it. The extra fat fairy’s best attempt at fixing the damage is to make it so that I just fall asleep so that true love’s kiss can wake me up. It sounds all fine and dandy to everybody, including me, that the only ticket to lifting the curse is for a man that I might not know to sexually impose himself on me without my consent. Everyone feels a little better now. They’re all still frightened for my welfare, though, of course, so the music is somber as the scene fades from view.
Unbelievable, huh? Just wait, the story gets even crazier from here.