Princess: Pariss Elektra
Location: The Old Red Bus Station, Leeds
Women – by Pariss
A woman is always told to be bright, to shine a smile so the world can see her beauty for those that desire.
A woman is always told to be delicate, like fine China, until she falls and realises she doesn’t break, she bounces back quicker than her opposite.
A woman is strong, always centred within the eye of the hurricane.
A woman is wild, always ready to wield her axe to protect her kin, from birth.
A woman is the depth of darkness, the black hole that draws in the stars and, from that, births entire universes.
A woman is beauty in motion she cannot be kept still, do not try to keep her.
She is nature personified.
Prince: Wendy Denman
Location: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
We bloody LOVE Prince.
Princesses: Lorraine Brown, Anna Gray and Charlotte Jones
Location: Mind The Gap, Lister Mills, Bradford
Lorraine: “I am very good at most stuff. I like playing in a band and love dancing. I’m very talented at different arts things.”
Anna: “I love the costumes, definitely. First I love Cinderella, because I’ve played Cinderella here at Mind the Gap. But my ultimate favourite, is Elsa from Frozen. I love the costume, I love the make-up, the finale dress on the steps and the song”.
Charlotte: “I quite like dressing up as a princess, I also like the encouragement of being part of it (this project) – empowering women to be strong together, not necessarily as princesses, but as women. Love yourself and be yourself. Because we are women and we are in it all together, it doesn’t matter who you are. You don’t need to change yourself, it’s about loving yourself and accepting who you are in yourself”.
Princess: Keranjeet Kaur Virdee
Location: Colours May Vary, Munro House, Leeds
Cake is for eating. End of.
Princess: Maria Millionaire (Martin Carter)
Location: The Corn Exchange, Leeds
Martin: “As a drag queen I’m aware of always doing things ‘dressed as a girl’ which aren’t derogatory or insulting to women. I want to celebrate womanhood. I’m not sure the ideal archetype of a princess does that. It often presents women in the way of needing saving, needing a man or that the only worthwhile pursuit is singing to birds and collecting fruit.”
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.”