Of Damsels and Heroines

Growing up, I have always been fascinated by stories. I remember lying awake in the bed I share with my sisters and making up stories in my head whilst everybody else is asleep.

I read whatever book I can get my hands on. I used to read my older sisters school books. I spent a lot of time in the library. I actually made a point of reading the encyclopedia during one summer and the whole bible during another.

My sisters were into romantic novels so I naturally devoured those books like any bibliophile. Those romantic novels made me become too idealistic in my idea of what love is, I think. The leading ladies, it would seem are often damsels in distress who need rescuing or very rarely, heroines.

Soon, I was writing my own stories. My lead female characters were very different to the usual damsel in distress profiles. Before the debut of Princess Fiona and the alternate story of Maleficent, I was already writing of heroines who can take care of themselves and even rescue the heroes at some point of the story. I also explored the story of the perceived villianess and how she can be good and lovable too when viewed from another perspective. The characteristics of my heroines were an unconscious nod to how my parents raised me – independent, capable and self-reliant. I was not that enamored by the idea of the drop-dead gorgeous heroine probably because I never thought of myself as beautiful. My heroines were intelligent, self reliant and strong who exist independent of the heroes but complement them. I guess at the tender age of 10 I was already a feminist without knowing it.

This does not mean that I did not do all the girly stuff too. Growing in a household of four girls means that my childhood was also spent going gaga over Menudo, decorating our Menudo scrapbooks,watching soap operas, and watching romantic movies. I love beautiful dresses, shoes, ribbons, colouring books and doing artsy stuff. I was the girl who lives mainly in shorts but loves dressing up for Sunday mass. However, my Papa and Mama also indulged me in my comic books (DC and Marvel of course; nothing too cutesy or girly) collection. Every Sunday, Mama buys me a comic book whilst Papa brings home Comic books from USA. I was a girl who can discuss about X-men, JLA and Robotech with the boys without batting an eyelid. I guess,of all their girls, I was the one with the most contradicting personalities. I loathe to be called ‘sweet’ as I associate that description with silly girly girls yet I love puppies and kittens, draw anime, befriend right away the transferee to our class, and willingly share what I have. I write poems in the cards that I give to my parents, draw cards, write Valentines, write love stories, and try to see the goodness in everybody but I do not consider myself sweet. I prefer the adjective thoughtful and kind. However, I am also one of those who will punch a bully or flip his chair over with him still in it.

So just like me, my heroines are of contradicting nature. I wish I managed to save all my stories. I am sure that the plots and grammar will probably reflect my age at those times but it would still be nice to re-read them now. I actually wrote a whole series of storiea about 3 ninja friends- Areju (girl), Bota ( boy) and Keri ( girl). The leader of the pack? Areju, the red ninja! But even those stories that I painstakingly wrote and illustrated also got lost.

Well, I guess that the gist of this otherwise lenghty blog is that we cannot peg women down to just one category – damsel or heroine. We all have both characters in us. It just depends on the situation, I guess.

Mentos! That is what women nowadays are – hard on the outside but still softies in the inside.

Me? Oh I am still playing the role of a princess in my tower of solitude waiting for my prince to rescue me. But I will let you in on a secret-— the trail on my dress actually transforms into my cape. It could very well be that I have to don on my cape to rescue my errant prince so he can, in turn, rescue me from my tower! Come on, Prince …

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