I remember going to see "Shrek" at a friend’s house, expecting yet another beautiful story of castles and fairies, of princes and princesses, of beauty and love — only to be hit with a wave of ogre. The movie continuously called out fairy tale stereotypes, replacing each one with a less tasteful mockery of the role.
The expected tall good looks of Disney princes was replaced with an overweight, swearing, smelly green monster who willingly resided in a swamp, and the radiant smiles of fairy tale princes were replaced with a mouthful of crooked yellow teeth.
The prim, tailored clothes were traded for the medieval equivalent of ratty old sweatpants, and the quintessential mark of a handsome prince— the majestic stallion waiting by his side— was replaced by a tiny brown donkey with an unnatural obsession with pink dragons (you do you, donkey — who am I to judge?).
And as for the villain — instead of a dragon or ogre, it was the prince himself. This proved extremely distressing for my 4-year-old self.
But no matter how disturbing I initially deemed the film, I found myself watching it again and again, like a track set on repeat. I found it fascinating that someone so ugly, so different from everyone else, was able to be successful and accepted by someone else.
As a child who attended a primarily Caucasian elementary school for the first few years of my schooling, I found it insanely relatable — not necessarily to be ugly, but to be different from everyone else. How it felt to be the only brown girl in the class, the only one whose parents didn’t speak perfect English, to be the only one who felt out of place in a completely normal setting.
While I don’t face these issues anymore and haven’t had to think about them in a long time, especially while living in an environment such as Johns Creek, it is extremely important to remember that those issues still do exist, so thank you, "Shrek," for showing me and other kids who needed it that those who are different will eventually be accepted for who they are, and that all kinds of love — no matter how ugly — are still beautiful.