Eat the Damn Cake

Beauty, body image, and dessert.

Where Are All the Big-Nosed Disney Princesses?

I looked everywhere, but not even one princess looked like me.

There are no examples of people who look like me being hot. Because I am this weird combination of parts that surprised even God. When I was born, God was like, “Wait, really? That can happen?” I still don’t understand it. I look at my parents and grandparents and can kind of figure out how it’s possible, but I can also see how it could’ve easily gone a lot smoother. 

I see pieces of myself everywhere. The short haircut on an incredibly thin, graceful girl at Ikea. The round eyes above the long nose on an Israeli man in the New York Times. The full bottom, small chest, and chubby arms on a confident-looking black girl in an orange, sleeveless dress in Union Square. The shapely, but not particularly long legs with their abrupt ankles on a woman pushing a stroller in the park. 

But it never seems to come together in the form of one leading lady. One stunning model. One fantastic fictional character. 

And growing up, there was one feature in particular that never, ever showed up on the face of a heroine, since the time of Barbra Streisand. 

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"At least there was Barbra Streisand!" people say. 

But one bold, brave nose is not enough to conquer the insecurities of a girl who looks around the world and can't manage to identify her look as beautiful, because there is no sign of it anywhere. We need a Disney princess for that. 

Have we ever seen a mainstream heroine with an interesting, bumpy nose? I demand equal rights! Big noses now! 

I get embarrassed over being offended when, in Downton Abbey, like in the BBC dramatization of Pride and Prejudice, the annoying, supposedly unattractive sister is the one with the distinctive nose. Always. Always! Why is she always the obnoxious one, in addition to being the unattractive one? Is there something about women with big noses that irritates people? 

There must be, because Disney keeps making the villainesses have curving noses. Or just big ones. Like the witch in Tangled, who looks pretty to me, with her wild, curly dark hair, seductively hooded eyes, and delicately arched nose. She could be Jewish, like me, or Armenian. And the other characters keep referring to her as ugly and an “old hag.” And, of course, she’s evil

If you want to watch Disney movies when you're twenty-six, are you still allowed to complain about them? Probably not. And most of the time, I am reasonable enough to realize that I should do something besides feeling offended as I watch Disney movies. But sometimes, the little girl in me is almost desperate to see herself depicted somewhere, anywhere, as beautiful, or good, or heroic. Sometimes, I am sick of noticing that the features I have fought bloody battles to accept on my face are the ones that define the faces of the women we are supposed to identify immediately as dangerous and irritating and bad.

But I like being me. I am a weird combination of my parents’ genes that enables me to really, really appreciate the view of the city from Brooklyn Bridge Park. And work with a vengeance to accomplish stuff. And get offended when I see another annoying, mean character with a nose that’s sort of like mine, because I know that isn’t right. People are beautiful with this nose. And this combination of things. People are beautiful in combinations television and Disney and fashion fail to capture or even imagine. 

We’re shocking like that. We’re complicated enough for it. And we might just write the next script: 

The Princess Who Saved The World: A story of a beautiful, bold-nosed, big-butted girl who was really good at sword fighting, dragon taming, and a bunch of other things, too (she made a mean grilled cheese!).

 

Copyright Kate Fridkis

Kate Fridkis is a writer whose work has appeared in Salon, The New York Times, and Huffington Post, among others.

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