Yeah, So? This Is What You Do With Cake…

Maria Spadafora (8)Princess: Keranjeet Kaur Virdee
Location: Colours May Vary, Munro House, Leeds

Cake is for eating. End of.

#PrincessRealness

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POW! (Princesses of the World)

Maria Spadafora (2)

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.”

#PrincessRealness

One Size Does Not Fit All

Maria Spadafora (17)

Princesses: Jenny Wilson and Natalie Davies
Location: Cartwright Hall, Bradford

Jenny: “We’ve all been brought up in a patriarchy, and our language is formed in that context, the words we have, the frames of reference we have, the very thoughts in our heads – those words are patriarchal words. Everything is so very gendered.”

Natalie: “The princesses do not reflect the everyday female. I never could quite relate to any of the Disney princesses – so I just settled for being Mowgli!”

#PrincessRealness

The Writers’ Block

Maria Spadafora (9)

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

Read All About It

Y Post

So the exhibition Real Princesses of Yorkshire opens next week, and we’ll be celebrating with a ‘Ball’ on Friday 15th September. We’ve had some fabulous press coverage. Journalist Yvette Huddleston gave us a lovely full-page write up that appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post on 7th Sept, then we were on the cover of Culture in the Yorkshire Post (above). I also wrote a blog for Culture Vulture.

Participants have also done a great job of telling everyone about the project. The parent of one of our ‘princesses’ has written to her daughter’s school, saying “I feel this event and project resonates with the school’s ethos about girls achieving their potential and challenging stereotypes.” 

The Real Princesses of Yorkshire
11th – 22nd Sept, 10:30am-5pm (closed Sunday)
Arts@Trinity, Holy Trinity Church, Boar Lane, LS1 6HW

The Real Princess Ball – launch party
Friday 15th Sept 7pm
Light buffet, tiaras, and lip-syncing fun
Tickets are free but limited – book here

 

 

 

 

 

Two Marias Are Better Than One

Maria & MariaAs a boy (which is most of the time…) I work in social media. I’ve been doing drag for a few years on fun projects or performances I think are cool. I used to really worry about doing ‘amazing’ drag and looking as much like a woman as I could, however, over time I just decided to do projects which I thought were interesting. I’ve run around Leeds Market filming for the council, I’ve been in a music video for a rock and roll band and I made 400 people take part in a 80s themed work out with me at Leeds Town Hall. That sort of stuff.

My drag name is Maria Millionaire and I wear a lot of black.

As a drag queen I’m aware of always doing things ‘dressed as a girl’ which aren’t derogatory or insulting to women. As a drag queen 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. Princesses are I suppose, a form of drag, in that they present a made up, over-feminised version of reality, but I feel drag is a critique of our expectations of humanity – we over draw our eyebrows, play with silhouettes and wear oversized hair to draw attention to the fact that in life we all wear masks or different identities.

Typical princesses only offer one dimension, drag offers thousands.