As a Gen-Z kid, I grew up watching Disney princess films, and what I saw were princesses with tiny waists that could fit between their eyes, and beautiful voices, and princes to love. So I thought that's how I'd have to live one day. I would have to have a tiny waist, a beautiful voice, and a man—otherwise my life would be meaningless. I wouldn't have a happy ending like other girls.
I wanted to be a princess, but more than that I wanted to be a mom. If I didn't get to be a mom, I wouldn't get to have my "ending." The confusing part about this was that I had never met any boys who were worthy.
In middle school, I would watch other girls tie up their hair in ponytails, gazing for minutes on end until they finished, wondering how they made themselves so perfect, wondering how they were so beautiful. I thought this must have been "natural" (it never occurred to me I wasn't straight), because women were supposed to care for each other.
I didn't know I could marry a woman. How should I have known that? The Supreme Court hadn't yet made that legal. I didn't know that I could have children with a woman. Who was going to tell me this? I didn't know that a child could have two moms. If I had known that, my childhood would have been different.
The Supreme Court decision had a profound effect on me, because it changed what I thought was possible. I was 17 years old when gay marriage became legal. A year later, when Trump was elected, I was a student at Bellevue College. I had shoulder length hair, with bangs that were practically straight across my forehead (straighter than I would ever be). I wore black eyeliner every day and orange and pink hair clips.
I went to school on that horrible November morning early for class. I heard somebody say the election wasn't a big deal. It was a big deal, but for all the wrong reasons. This was a man who thought it was funny to grab a woman without an enthusiastic "yes," let alone a "yes" at all.
What scares me most about Trump is the number of people who voted for him, the number of people who think it doesn't matter that our president assaults women. I voted for Hillary Clinton, not because I liked her particularly—she was a privileged white woman in power who never fully came across as genuine—but at least she didn't make jokes about assaulting people.
By then I had long since realized that Disney movies are imaginary worlds and the future was going to look nothing like them. Unfortunately for me and countless other girls, we are not princesses and we are not cartoons. We are civilians living under the power of a creep. Melania's waist may fit between her eyes, but she and The Little Mermaid don't have anything else in common.
The election of 2016 starkly illustrated who would and wouldn't support me as I make my way in the world. It wouldn't be the old guy with the MAGA car decal, nor would it be our neighbors who voted for Trump because they thought he'd find some way to get rid of gay marriage (after finding this out, we hung up a rainbow flag on the side of the house—I love you, Mom and Dad!). Trump's victory was a reminder that there are a lot of different worlds within this world and I have to find my own community. I have to search them out.
Thankfully, I don't live under the sea. Thankfully, I live in a progressive city. I haven't found my princess yet, but I know she's out there, somewhere in the future. Just like the first female president.