Mulan

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When I was a kid, I wanted to be

a Disney princess—

beautiful, with big blue eyes

and flowing blonde hair.

I knew that sunshine lightened my

mousy brown locks

and wearing white made my eyes look blue

so I wore the same shirt for a week

and got a sunburn on my face.

 

I am still waiting to look like a princess.

I am realizing that I never will,

because for every royal feature I might

hope to find on the outside,

there is a villain,

a witch doctor,

burning away in my bones;

my jealousy is an ugly stepsister,

my anxiety is the crooked nose

of the evil queen's disguise,

the huntsman sent to cut out Snow White's

heart lives safely in my mind:

I am my own antagonist.

 

when I sing, no birds tell me,

"you are beautiful,"

when I dance, no prince asks me,

"may I cut in?"

when I cry, my tears hold no healing power,

tell me,

when did I become the bad guy?

The conspirator against myself

on the Ides of March?

 

The fault is not in our stars,

dear Brutus,

but in ourselves, that we are

beings of infinite beauty,

composed of elements you would

never find in gold or jewels,

trembling in our shells

and waiting for our savior to

climb the braided worries

that have long since tied themselves in knots.

 

The fault is in our vision,

that we cannot identify a beautiful thing

when we face it in the mirror.

 

The fault is in our taste, that we cannot appreciate

the tingle of stardust our laughter leaves behind

as it lights upon our lips.

 

The fault is in our touch, that we are not

delicate enough with our own hearts

when we cradle them in calloused hands.

 

The fault is in our hearing, that we choose to listen to the voice in our heads shouting

"you can't"

rather than the beat of our heart whispering

"give it a shot."

 

We fail to remember that at

our smallest components,

our bodies are identical to a forest fire,

burning with a passion that I can only

hope

I will pass down to my daughter,

 

because if there is one princess

I'd want her to become,

it is the one who loved the important things so much—

family, happiness, compassion—

that she abandoned those that did not matter—

beauty, reputation, expectations—

to protect the ones close to her heart.

 

If there is one princess I'd hope she would admire,

it is the one that was never a princess

at all

 

it is the warrior,

the flower that bloomed in adversity,

the passionate,

the brave, bold, unashamed

cherry blossom that believed

oh

yes,

she

could.

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