Princess: Maria Spadafora
Location: My flat, Morley
I had no plan to be part of my own project, but I was determined to include Princess Leia. Of all the princess icons (and she’s technically owned by Disney, now) I expected loads of people to jump at the chance to recreate her image, as she genuinely is/was a strong, determined character with agency. Curiously, not a single person wanted to! Those who didn’t already have their own costumes in mind, wanted to dress up in full princess bling. So I did Leia, swamped by tulle and organza, camera and long lens mimicking her blaster.
Finding a costume was a challenge. If you purchase Princess Leia fancy dress, you will
a) find it hard to get anything above a size 12 and
b) soon learn that most designs are skin tight with massive slits in the skirt, nothing like the original look, and totally fetishize her.
It’s quite depressing.
One woman had a really long look around the exhibition in Arts at Trinity, and we had a lovely chat. Not realising it was me, she asked if this was a drag queen, which made my day.
Princesses: Sasha Bhatt, Evie Manning, Mehmoona Pervaz, Iram Rehman, Saliha Rubani, Zakia Jabeen and Laura Brooks
Location: Outside Speakers Corner/Brick Box/Common Wealth, WOW HQ, Bradford
Laura: “I love princesses, although for many different reasons. Nostalgia being a big part, but I believe a lot of princess stories have evolved for the 21st Century.”
Saliha: “None of the princesses I saw growing up represented me, a woman of colour. My Mum used to tell me stories of Razia Sultana. The only female to rule Delhi in India. She went to battle with the boys!”
Evie: “I’m not into the whole idea of royalty, so fictional princesses are just perpetuating damaging ideas of hierarchy.”
Mehmoona: “I’m passionate about empowering the youth of Bradford, Speakers Corner allows me to do this. There should be more movies that show princesses being strong on their own, and not have any characters being perfect – showing real life problems.”
Iram: “I am very passionate about change for the youth of Bradford and around the world. I have loved princesses from a young age, but feel fictional princesses should be presented as more fierce for kids.”
Princess: Emma Bearman
Location: Playbox, Victoria Gardens, Leeds
Do you know Emma Bearman? Who I am kidding, of course you know her, everyone knows Emma! She makes stuff happen in Leeds. She truly is a Warrior Princess.
Princesses: Elizabeth and Emma Greenwood
Location: Roundhay Park, Leeds
Elizabeth: “I love to dance and seeing shows at the theatre. I am a big fan of Disney and enjoy going to see Disney on Ice.”
Emma: “I love all things theatrical. I love musical theatre and I’m a member of a few amateur groups. I love getting to dress up and being someone different.”
Princesses: Simran Virdee, Zahabia Naveed, Harpreet Panesar, Kirtan Virdee
Location: Bracken Edge, Leeds
The sentiment here should be very clear. Girls are more than princesses, more than pretty, more than whatever limiting stereotype we throw at them.
Zahabia’s Mum, Kauser, wrote to her daughter’s school about this project, exclaiming: “I feel this event and project resonates with the schools ethos about girls achieving their potential and challenging stereotypes”.
Princess: Annabeth Robinson
Location: Leeds College of Art
Annabeth is the sort of person who makes you sick, because she’s so good at everything. She’s particularly fab at tech stuff, and therefore our Princess of Power.
Princess: Mary Dowson
Location: BCB Radio, Bradford
Mary is the Director and one of the founders of Bradford Community Broadcasting. I’m fairly sure I speak for the many when I refer to her as a bit of a goddess, she’s proper ace.
Mary: “I’ve never found a princess that had any appeal.”