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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The True Story of Cinderella: A Night in the Spotlight

We went to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles last night, and to say that I was excited was a great understatement. I carefully chose my dress, put on proper makeup, all giddy and excited as if I was the one who was going to the ball. Even my husband, who has always been pretty much the sun in my life, was kind of in a state of (almost) non-existence last night. For the first time in forever, I didn't even care that he was next to me. My mind and soul was in the play. It was a great play. We laughed, we smiled, and when Cinderella transformed into the ball-gowned princess I held my breath full of anticipation. Then she stepped into her glass slippers before going to the ball, and I tried my hardest to stop the tears falling from my eyes. She made it.

Yes, you've heard it a million times: Cinderella is not an educating story because she didn't empower herself and had to wait for a rich man to come and save her. Yet to me, the glory of her story is not the happily ever after ending. The glory of Cinderella's story, the climax, the moment of truth, is when she gets the incredible dress and the glass slipper. It's her moment, her transformation from the ugly duckling to the swan, and I dare say many girls and women dreamed about that moment many times in their life. That one moment where, even if it's only for the shortest time, they became the goddess, the diva, the center of attention, the prettiest of them all.

It sounded so shallow, right? But is it really? Birds are known to have decorative feathers to attract their mate, what's so different with us? The notion to look pretty is not (only) out of vain and pride, it is also a survival technique to make sure we are chosen by a mate to pass our genes and prolong our bloodline. Makeup has been around for centuries, if not millenniums. To say that we decorate ourselves for the sake of the man can actually be said that we decorate ourselves to compete with other women. And as a human being not only we can acknowledge beauty, we also intuitively and consciously want to be a part of it. Even the pre-historic human decorated their cave with drawings and made rough jewelry. Beauty is an indispensable part of human life.

As we matured and gained more knowledge, we will eventually learn that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, so to speak. We will eventually realized that words and thoughts can be beautiful, even more so than the physical beauty. We will also eventually appreciate the beauty of human in general, things that we previously thought plain can finally seen as beautiful due to our mature understanding. Like a devoted entomologist that can described a bug in such loving and adoring manner, we too can love our fellow human once we get to know them. But it is a long way to go, especially since we often didn't even know ourselves well enough, or even love ourselves well enough. How can we see the beauty of others if we can't see it in ourselves?

The words above are, of course, easier said than done. We have our fear, our worries, our insecurities. It takes a lot humility and an exceptional clarity from someone to accept his/herself as it is without losing his/her mind over it. Thus the desire to be in the spotlight so bright that it eliminates our dark emotion, to be showered with such attention and be so sure of oneself, it is understandable and to some degree might even be acceptable. Even though these words could easily be applied to women (and men) everywhere, I am speaking now to those who could never see themselves as good enough. I am speaking to those who are deemed plain and unattractive, those with minor flaws yet to the world is big enough to exclude them altogether. Ugliness and beauty are a burden in itself, no doubt about it; but plain people or somewhat-queer people or even those who somehow couldn't fit, they too have their own burden. They look at the world that passes them by and desperately trying to chase it, trying to make it stop for a fraction of a second to acknowledge their existence. The extremes, good or bad, always gets noticed; but the plains are pretty much got lost in the shadow, the pastel color that went unnoticeable in a grand and vivid painting.

The fact that Cinderella is beautiful is of no importance. What important in the story, at least to me, is that she got the chance to shine for the night. Nice clothes, nice shoes, and even nice carriage and servants to boost it up. What else could anyone wants?? For days and even years she was so unsure of herself and choose to obediently stayed where she was treated badly, yet that one night, that one glorious night she could shed her rags and ashes (i.e. insecurities and fear) and be whole and complete, be noticeable by the world. And that, my dear readers, is what Cinderella is truly about.

I can't even tell you readers to love yourself and other humans. I can, but it will only just words. This is not something that you could repeat every day and you will eventually believe it. Love for yourself, just like love for others, is something that you need to patiently grow and nurture. It is a journey of self-realization and opening your perspective. It is to understand and accept the things we don't like about ourselves, and have peace with ourselves. Then and only then we can accept and make peace with others. I can't tell you how difficult it is for the extremes because I am not one, but I can tell you how difficult it is for the plains because I was one. Yet technically, it should be easier. Even a pastel color would be noticeable if it was laid thick and strong. If you can't rely on your physics to win the world, use your personality. And then when somebody offers you the glass slipper, never hesitate to take the chance. Not even once.

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