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.
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.
Princesses: Caroline Mitchell, Aisha Khan, Zodwa Nyoni, Kirsty Taylor
Location: Shakespeare Avenue, Leeds
Caroline: “They (princesses) made me want to give them a good shake as a child. especially the one in The Princess and the Pea. Bruised because she was too tender! Oh please.”
Aisha: “This project made me giggle in a ‘ooh I’d like to do that’ kind of way!”
Zodwa: “There is a westernized stereotype of what princesses look like, usually blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Certainly with fair hair and skin. I come from a culture with royalty that doesn’t look like that, but is never held up, celebrated and respected as royalty.”
Kirsty: “Should I bring like a tracksuit top and Nike air max to go with the dress? With me Pat Butcher earrings?! Is that the look or not really…?!”
It is now! #PrincessRealness