This post probably should have been written a month or two (or three or four) ago, but it was not. Why? you may ask. Well, it\'s a long story (about twenty-two years in the making), but, in short, Belle and her story transformed my life.
Has there ever been something tangible you can point to and say, "This changed my life!"? A song, an album, a movie, a book, a YouTube video? Maybe even an essay?
Beauty and the Beast opened my eyes to reading when I was only three-years-old. My parents will confirm that I learned to read because Belle loves to read and when I was little, there was nothing more important than being exactly like Belle (emulating?).
Before church on Sunday mornings, my mom would let me pick out my clothes. I pretended my closet spoke to me and picked out my church dress because the wardrobe picked out Belle\'s clothes. I dressed up as Belle not only for several Halloweens, but also in my everyday life. My grandmother made me a yellow Belle dress that I wore almost every day.
I will even post a picture of myself in my yellow Belle dress so that you can see first-hand the enabling my family performed towards me being Belle.
I could write a post about how Belle does not have Stockholm Syndrome, how hers and the Beast\'s relationship is not a case of beastiality. I could (and have) argue(d) that their relationship is not abusive. And maybe someday I will, but today I want to write about how Belle and her story transformed my life. Belle is one of those characters that I connected with deeply, even though I was only three when
every single weekend to see that movie. Especially once it came to the dollar theater. I can remember that theater even though it has not been there for over ten years.
It was on Alps Road in Athens, Georgia at the end of a shopping plaza. The windows were all blacked out and you had to go down a short flight of stairs to get to the theater entrance and the concession stand. The lobby smelled kind of funny, like stale popcorn. Overall, it was a pretty sketchy theater. But I remember that nasty old theater with sentiment because it housed my first connection with Belle.
Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite movie. For almost twenty-two years I have never had to think about what my favorite movie is.
My deep connection with Belle is still there and so strong because my life would be different without that movie, without her story. I would not have had the urgent desire to learn to read from the age of three if I had not seen that movie. Would I have been reading chapter books on my own by the time I was in first grade? Would I understand the effects that reading can have on my life and its ability to nurture and foster imagination?
I cannot answer these questions truthfully because I do not know anything about my childhood without Belle. Something special happens when we realize the depths of our connection with a character, a book, a play, a song, a movie and we are never the same.
The Poisonwood Bible, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, and the Harry Potter series come to mind immediately. But would those connections be so strong without that first connection to Belle?
I may never truly know the answer to that question, but I do think I know the answer. Have you ever realized a deep connection you have with something or someone similar? Let me know in the comments!!