As a kid I adored Peter Pan. I got lost in Peter Pan colouring books and demanded we buy whatever cereal had a Peter Pan toy in it. Pirates became the bad guys of my nightmares; I looked for fairies in the forest. Fast forward to adulthood. I remember coming across the Peter Pan Syndrome in a YouTube video when I was in my early thirties. For those who don’t know, Peter Pan Syndrome isn’t an official psychological diagnostic category, but we all no doubt recognize it in at least one person in our life: Peter Pan syndrome is the reluctance of some people to become adults—to not want to succumb to time or stop playing, or to lose one’s potential and actually become, to take on bills and responsibility. After watching the video, I remember looking back uneasily on my life. There was nothing like a career trajectory or any signs of great eagerness to take on much responsibility in my life. For most of my childhood (and beyond), I remember thinking that being an adult looking pretty lame compared to being a kid. So, I certainly have a bit of Peter Pan in me, and I’m amazed at the power of fairytale/myth/story to appeal to me at such deep, unconscious levels.
Fast forward a few more years and I’d returned to school, studying psychology. I had a couple very powerfully influential professors, one of whom studies evolutionary psychology. Specifically, she was looking at how women might have evolved minds that are, in certain predictably significant ways, different than men’s. There’s a whole branch of evolutionary psychology that looks at things like mating habits, mate selection, sexual strategies, etc. of humans. My professor is an active and respected contributor there. I studied with her and discovered that it can be a bit unnerving to see how it is, from the analytical eye of statistics and cold observation, that humans mate in quite patterned ways. As a window into the female mind, one of her studies consisted in looking at the hundreds of Harlequin novels for patterns. One of the themes or plot lines that seemed to be told, over and over, novel after novel, was the so-called “cad to dad” story. In its barebones, the story is about a woman getting intimately entangled with a ‘bad boy’ (the cad), and how she eventually manages to (bravely) invite out of this dangerous character a more gentlemanly, responsible and civilized person (a dad-type). I thought it fascinating that this story kept recurring in this branch of literature. And of course, the parallels of this story to Beauty and the Beast is obvious. Some have speculated that the Beauty & the Beast myth is the female equivalent of the “hero’s journey”, the story of the dragon-slaying, traditionally male character, on a quest to save the princess. That’s another one of those stories that has been told for as long as there has been language.
I started to look more deeply into stories—especially stories that are very old, get retold with different characters and settings but the same theme, and stories that seize our attention for some mysterious reason.
It’s been awesome and very fun, for this reason (and others, to have had the opportunity to work with Miranda, owner of Little Princess Parties. To create photos for these princess costumes, I’ve watched quite a few Disney movies to get a sense of the princess’s personality I’m working with, and the overall vibe of the story she’s a part of. So I get to see these incredibly fixating stories portrayed, and think about them. Also, Miranda is a total whirlwind of talent, vision and entrepreneurial maturity. It’s inspiring to see her blazing her own trail: Not only does she run her own business (which she started before she was 20), she hand-makes nearly all the costumes. Pay special attention to Belle’s dress!
We’ve been working together with Miranda for several sessions, over several months, and it’s been a real pleasure getting to know her, seeing her grow her business and watching her improve her craft.
As she keeps raising the bar, we’re encouraged to raise ours. Here are a few of our favourite portraits. All costuming by Miranda. Check out Little Princess Parties to see what she’s doing.