COMPREHENSIVE Paris Accounting: The REAL costs of Paris for almost a MONTH for one, and a week for TWO

I’ve mentioned before that Paris really isn’t an arm and a leg when you know a few tricks.  I’m going to share a more-or-less running tally of most things.  Fabric-sourcing isn’t a typical tourist expense, and so will be kept out.  Almost everything else will be included.  Skip to farther down below for daily expenses, and I’ll update this post daily until the last day.

I decided to do the because, if you read a lot of websites online, you’ll walk away disheartened.  The prices given are ABSURDLY high.  One woman spent $1,757.64 for one week in Paris, not counting getting there.  I’m perplexed by that.  To be frank, that kind of spending seems like she was trying to see how much she could blow.  Almost $90 a day for activities…how?  This site says $2,605 for a couple for five days.  Here you’re told to budget an average of 126€ in 2013 money, not including accommodations or anything else.  On the Rick Steves forum in 2017, people were saying to budget 70-100, in both dollars and euros, for food…PER DAY.  Here, we are told the average daily cost for one person is 162€, or 4,853€ for  a month, again, not including getting there.  In 2008, 150€ per day not counting getting there or accommodations, for a budget trip.  And another stating 770€ for a budget trip for one once you get there.  I’m not doing what I consider to be a budget trip, and I still can’t figure out these expenses.

Let me explain my timing here.  Leaving to France the 3rd of March, returning the 28th.  My husband is flying out to join me the 19th.  So 25 days for me, and a little over a week for him.  Stretching my time to a full month wouldn’t cost much more either, nor would having him here for he same time.

To start with the up-front costs: My ticket on AirFrance was pricy this year, $733.53 including extra baggage.  Sunday is a prime travel day, and so comes with a slight premium.  I used flights.google.com to tinker around and find some reasonable travel dates, then checked the recommend websites directly for lower costs.  My ticket would have cost less if I had chosen a different layover time.  The two-hour lay-over would have saved about $100.  I picked a layover of over eight hours so I could meander around the airport in Amsterdam.  Vancouver is referred to as “New Vansterdam.”  So Amsterdam is something of a pilgrimage.  Cody will be flying out later in the month, and he has the shorter layover.  He’s also not taking extra baggage.  He’s going to be going for $505.

We also checked all airports within three hours of us.  Last year, flying out of Seattle was so much less ($405 with extra baggage versus about $900 out of Portland) that Cody driving me there was worth the savings.  This time, Portland is less.  Flying into Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport is almost always less than Orly.  If you’re near an airport Wow Air or Iceland Air regularly service, round-trip flights can easily be under $300.  I’m not even kidding.

The AirBNB for the month is $851.28.  Most places give pretty steep discounts for renting by the month, even if you end up having a few days early (like me!).  Weekly and monthly discounts add up to it often costing less to stay longer.  Sometimes just one or two more days will initiate a bigger discount.  Also, by renting an apartment, I’ll save a fortune on food costs by not having to eat out all the time.  French markets are cheap as heeellllll compared to what we pay in Vancouver, Washington.  Also, I’m staying in a small town right outside of Paris.  I don’t care if my place is two minutes from the Eiffel Tower.  It’s not hard getting there via transit.  If you don’t mind renting a room instead of a full apartment, the can drop easily to $600.

Speaking of getting there, you’ll often hear that the cheapest way to get around is to get a carnet of ten tickets for 14.90€, or the Paris Visite Pass.  You’ll blow through that in a couple days, easy, and that Visite Pass is a bunch of BS.  Spend 5€ to get a Navigo Découverte card, and top that up.  Locals get the Navigo, and the only difference is that they can get it replaced for 5€ if they lose it, whereas we non-residents just plain lose altogether and have to get a new one in full.  Otherwise, costs are the same.  Pay 22.80€ and you’ve got passage on every transit there is from 12:01am on Monday (technically 12am, but putting it as 12:01am makes it clearer which 12am) through Sunday at 11:59pm.  The train to Orly is excluded.  No matter when you pay, the window is the same.  You can also pay 75.20€, and it’ll be good for the whole month, 12:01am on the 1st to 11:59pm on the last day.  You can get passes that don’t go to Versailles or Disneyland, but the cost savings is negligible. I still have my card from last year, and so will pay 75.20€ once, and all my transit for the entire time is covered.  Cody will arrive the 20th.  I’ll have a card ready for him, topped up, and he’ll be covered through Sunday at 11:59pm for 22.80€, and another 22.80€ to cover him for the rest of his time here.

I’m also going to London for a couple days, and that’s $112 for airfare, including priority seating and an extra bag.  I plan on bringing back books.  Lots of books.  And $90 for the AirBNB for a couple days.  And I’m paying $70 to get a membership to the V&A so I can get into a sold-out exhibit.  Otherwise, the V&A would be free.

Regarding food, compared to pricing at my local grocery stores, French stores are cheap.  1.50€ for a kilo of organic apples?  YES.  That’s under $2 for 2.2lbs.  Amazing meats for 6€ per kilo.  At that per pound, it would still be less than here.  Yet that’s for over twice as much.  4oz of fresh mozzarella cheese for under 1€.  I pay $8 per pound here.  It’s about $5 converted for a pound there.  Stuff we have here, like Nutella and Bonne Maman preserves are so cheap that it makes me cry inside.  The big Nutella jars are about 3€ as opposed to over $8 here, and those preserves that I pay $5 for on sale are all under 2€, with some being under 1€.  Same brands.  So, straight up, the cost of food is less than where I live in the US.  Since we have to eat regardless, we’re saving money on food by going to Paris.  Something to favor in, that no one ever does, is that you have to eat even when not in Paris.  Subtract what you would spend at home from what you spend in Paris to get an idea of how much it really costs you to eat in Paris.  If you spend $10 a day on food at home, and 15€ in Paris, you aren’t really spending 15€ for being in Paris.  You’re spending the difference between that and the $10.  This doesn’t work for accommodations since you’re paying for your home and for accommodations in Paris.  You’re just transferring your food money, not paying for it on both sides.

Touristy stuff?  First, Notre Dame and a lot of things are free.  If you want to go to the top of Notre Dame, you’ll pay a small fee.  But the cool stuff doesn’t require that.  Second, find the free stuff no one thinks about.  Go walk through Victor Hugo’s apartment.  That’s free.  Go stand in Marie Curie’s lab.  That’s free.  Go to Trocadero Plaza, and see this view for free…

Skip the tourist stuff for the most part.  A lot of it is overrated.  Cool, yes, but overrated.  Go live in Paris like a Parisian.  Get the real experience instead of a curated tourist experience.  It won’t cost you to do that.  Walk on the Seine at night on weekend nights when the weather is what most people consider to be nice, and you’ll discover the parties that go on there .

If you want to do the tourist stuff, get the Paris Museum Pass.  Specifically that pass.  There is a Paris Pass and a Paris City Pass, but the small extras aren’t worth the big price increase.  The 6-day Museum Pass, which is 74€, covers entry to almost everything from the Louvre to Versailles, and even if you don’t go to enough things for the cost of the pass to cover the cost of the tickets, getting to go in the short line is more than worth it.  I got to the Louvre a couple hours early, and felt such despair at the length of the line.  I decided WTH, may as well get the 4-day pass for 62€, and didn’t have to get in that long line.  I meandered around until a few minutes before opening, got in the short line, and was inside in under ten minutes.  Same thing at Versailles.

That small goes to the left at the opening of this video is my line (caution: I swear at the end).  That little group.  That long line is just ONE of the general entry lines.  The Museum Pass is worth skipping that line.  Every other site I have ever come by says to add up the costs of what you want to do, and if it’s less than the cost of the pass, to skip the pass.  Well, NO.  Get the pass anyway.  Take my word on this.  By the time Versailles opened, that long line there looked very short compared to what it was at opening time.  Your time has value.  Do you want to wait in that line for four hours, or get in and get to do stuff?

I myself nearly fell for the “add up what you want to do,” and what changed that was the day last year when I got to the Louvre over 2 hours before opening, and went down to the “secret” entrance where the line is shorter than the main entrance, thinking I’d be somewhere between maybe and 50th and 100th in line, and instead…OMG, the line was so, so long that I thought it wouldn’t end and started to feel dismayed.  I kept walking, and walking, and walking, and gave up on the idea of getting in at all, and decided to just find the end and see how long it was.  I finally found it after several minutes of walking.  By some freaky coincidence, it ended near a little shop selling the Paris Museum Pass.  I gladly plunked down the 62€ for a 4-day pass, and decided to salvage my day (heh…having to salvage a day in Paris…but I was very sad at that point) by seeing how long it would take me to get in.  I killed some time in this little underground mall, then went to the special pass line nearer to opening, and holy schnikes, folks.  I was in literally within ten minutes.  That line gets the priority.  They let that line in, then start on the regular line at the main door.  If more people get in the pass line, they go to those people, get them through security, then go back to the regular line.  The other line I found didn’t have a pass line near it, but they were still going to take forever.  I went to the Louvre and Versailles, which was 33€, and I can’t remember what third thing I did on that pass, but it didn’t total 62€ in admission.  But damn, was it ever worth my time.  Even if it had only been those two things, it was worth not having to deal with being in line half the day.  As far as Versailles, I was in fast enough that I got to the Hall of Mirrors in time to get a photo with only the docent in it.

Cody and I will get the 6-day passes when he’s in Paris.  148€ will cover pretty much all of our entertainment for six days, and fast-track us on the things he wants to do.  (I say “he wants to do” because I told him to give me a list of the things he most wants to see–as I figure it, I’ll be here 2 weeks more this time, and was here 2 months last year, and have had my time, and so his eight days here should be centered around what he wants to see.)

Now what about phones?  That’s trickier to answer.  Our cell plan is $10 per 24-hour period for everything unlimited.  For 25 days, this would mean $250 for my phone.  But last year I had my phone unlocked for $110.  So this year, I’m starting off with 34,90€ for a new SIM and 12GB of data from SFR.  Instead of using cellular for calls, I use WhatsApp, and that’s free.  Have everyone you want to talk to sign up.  Literally it’s free.  I’ll use that through data or WiFi.  My better value.  But my husband’s phone isn’t currently unlocked.  The 8 days he’ll be here will be $80 through out cell company IF he uses his own phone everyday, or $110 just to unlock his phone.  Even if he used his phone everyday, that would mean he’d come out ahead using his phone like normal.  But since he’ll use my phone with any remaining data, he won’t need to use his phone everyday, and getting 12GB would be 34€.  So it’s not a cut-and-dry answer. Longer than 14 or so days, and it’s definitely cheaper to have a phone unlocked and get an SFR.  Shorter than that, and it depends on your carrier.

Now! Onto…

So let’s see what is spent overall to give an accurate, real-time accounting of what Paris costs, and where expenses can be shaved.

Pre-leaving expenses paid, in currency used:
Flights to Paris and home, extra baggage: $733.53 for me
Flights to Paris and home: $505 for Cody
AirBNB: $851.28 for the ENTIRE TIME
Flight to London and back to Paris, extra baggage an seating upgrade: $112
AirBNB London: $90
V&A membership: 70€
$2291.81 and 70€
ALL of the HUGE expenses for the month were paid before I left.

TBP means To Be Paid.  These may change, but likely won’t.

Tuesday, March 5th:
Navigo Découverte (now called Île-de-France Moblité) charge for the month: 75,20€
Île-de-France Moblité card for Cody, not charged: 5€
SFR SIM and 12GB date for my phone: 34,90€
Marks & Spencer groceries (this’ll last 4-5 days): 64,90€
Produce at overpriced market (I didn’t feel like up to the grocery proper): 10,64€
Crépe Grand Marnier: 4€
Huge chocolate meringue: 2€
Coin purse: 3€
3 scarves: 15€
Most of the “big” expenses to be paid while on this this are out of the way now. 210.64€
Running total: $2291.81 and 284,64€

Wednesday, March 6th:
Palais Garnier: 12€ (website said 14€, but was 12€ since I like to go without tour guides)
Souvenirs: 41,50€
Croissants: 2,60€ for 2 (expensive for Paris…usually under 1€ each)
Grocery snacks things: 27,65€
Running total: $2291.81 and 368,39€

Thursday, March 7th: Notre Dame
Bra-shopping: 20.15€
Souvenir-ish shopping (rain started, got some rain stuff): 27€
Running total: $2291.81 and 416,08€

Friday, March 8th:
Lindt chocolate: 9.24€
Marks & Spencer: 41.85€
Running total: $2291.81 and 467,17€

Saturday March 9th:
Crépe Grand Marnier: 4.50€
Marks & Spencer: 35,18€
Robert-François Damiens letter: 100€
Running total: $2291.81 and 606,35€

Sunday, March 10th:
none–stayed in for the day

Monday, March 11th:
Train to London: 23.50£
Coat check: 4£
Shopping for books, etc: 141£
Uber to AirBnB: 6.71£
Bus fare: 3.50£
Shopping for pens, notebooks, toiletries: 59.50£
KFC: 3.99£
Running total: $2291.81, 606.35€, and 242.20£

Tuesday, March 12th:
Stuff, lots of little stuff that I didn’t keep track of individually, but about 200£ (I used cash, have a bit left)
Running total: $2291.81, 606.35€, and 442.20£

Wednesday, March 13th:
Souvenir-gift thing for Charlotte: 11£
Bus ticket to Luton: 18£
Uber to apartment: 27,60€
Running total: $2291.81, 633.95€, and 471.20£

Thursday, March 14th:
Crepe Grand Marnier: 4€
Crepe Grand Marnier: 4,50€ (different place)
Hair brush since mine disappeared from my checked bag…weird…and micellar water: 10.98€
Running total: $2291.81, 633.95€, and 471.20£

Friday, March 15th:
6-day Paris museum passes: 148€ for both
Disneyland Mini x 2: 126€
Charging Cody’s Navigo: 22,80€
Groceries: 34,58€
Running total: $2291.81, 965,34€, and 471.20£

Saturday, March 16th:

Sunday, March 17th:

Monday, March 18th:

Tuesday, Match 19th:

Wednesday, March 20th:

Thursday, March 21st:

Friday, March 22nd:

Saturday, March 23rd:

Sunday, March 24th:
TBP: Weekly charge for Cody’s transit: 22,80€

Monday, March 25th:

Tuesday, Match 26th:

Wednesday, March 27th:

Thursday, March 28th:

 

When did the US start using the imperial system (inches, feet, yards, gallons, etc.), and why?

Some trivia for you:

Q: When did the US start using the imperial system (inches, feet, yards, gallons, etc.), and why?

A: Prior to 1965, even the UK was on the…imperial system. The metric system wasn’t even official in the UK until just 54 years ago. The US didn’t change on this. The rest of the world did.

When global trade started becoming more common, there came a desire for a worldwide standard. France proposed the first metric system in 1790, which was met with considerable resistance. Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg were the first to require its used in 1820, and France followed the mandate in 1837. The alternative was the imperial system, which was too closely associated with Britain to be palatable.

In 1875, most industrialized nations, excluding Britain but including the US, signed the Treaty of the Metre. The definition of a metre has changed over time, though, and a lot more recently than most people realized.

Initially, the definition was one-ten-millionth of the distance between the equator and the north pole. You might see the problem with this. The earth isn’t entirely spherical. So which ten-millionth? For which starting point? Thanks, France.

In 1983, the definition moved away from geographical distance to using lightwaves. As far as we know, light travels at the same speed, or some such nonsense that will be debunked a few centuries from now, as everything seems to be.

It had been changed in the meantime between 1791, when the first meter was officially set, and 1983, when it was set at its current length, the most recent prior it 1983 being 1960. The 17th Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures now defines a meter as:

The weight of the kilogram has also changed over time, including in the past few months, but I don’t work in weight, making this really irrelevant, though still interesting. Here is a starting point for your own research on this, and how there are three keys kept in separate locations that all must be brought together to access the official kilogram, which is a physical object kept under a series of bell jars, Whoville-style.

Seriously.  It is.  The real one rarely sees the light of day because Science, but this is a replica.  Now off you get to do your own research.

Consider this your  moment.

Pre-movie costuming thoughts about Beauty and the Beast

At this moment, I am sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to start.  Yes, with my computer.  Really.  Hi, everyone.

Coming in, I was more than a little perturbed at some articles I’d read yesterday that relate to costuming and, really, clothing in general, and as such, is very relevant to what I do.  What we wear has always come with come degree of judgement and controversy.  Dress in line with current fashions can be seen as following the crowd, while dressing the way one personally likes can be considered wanting to be a “snowflake” if it’s too different.  In many ways, there’s no winning.  My general belief is if you like it and it fits the occasion, wear it.  Bikini at a formal restaurant or the opera?  Uh, doesn’t fit the occasion.  Bikini or burqini at the beach?  Enjoy.  Don’t let anyone tell your your body size, body hair, sex, gender, or anything else matters.  If it’s for the occasion, then you do you, and be proud of having the strength to be you.

Now, as if there weren’t already some strong indicators to me that Emma, et. al. had a gross misunderstanding of Belle and the movie, I encountered some aggravating gems such as these:

In one, Emma said, “The actress was instrumental in giving the Disney princess a more feminist edge, insisting that certain aspects be changed so she feels more modern. “I was like, ‘The first shot of the movie cannot be Belle walking out of this quiet little town carrying a basket with a white napkin in it.  We need to rev things up!’””

In another, the author said, “…Watson to design a feminist version of that iconic yellow ball gown.”

In a third, lead-designer Jacqueline Durran (who ultimately had less say than Emma over the costumes) said, “…a reimagined version of the dress, which ended up challenging because “there are elements in which the yellow dress works against [being a modern, strong Belle] in a sense of being a pretty, princess-y kind of dress.”

While I’m waiting, allow me a moment to address each of those two points (the second and third article quotes relate to each other for one point).

First, the opening scene of the animated movie had Belle walking into that little town with a basket as an instruction to her world.  We learned, in one number, that her town is a relatively peaceful one that doesn’t accept her, that she has ambitions and dreams that reach far outside of it, that the town “good guy” is a brute who only cares about appearances, as well as the town’s pathetic reasons for not really liking or accepting her.  Belle “walking out of this quiet little town carrying a basket with a white napkin in it” isn’t some pointless little scene.  How sad that Emma couldn’t understand that.

Also Belle ISN’T a modern, 21st century woman, and this IS a historically-timed movie that is even dated by the inclusion of the 1720-1722 plague.  Making Belle a modern woman and sticking her in a modern ball gown complete with glued-on glitter, LITERALLY, means taking Emma herself and sticking her in a time machine.  If you want to play a 21st-century woman, then take roles featuring 21st-century women.  Don’t take a role featuring an 18th-century heroine and make her be from the  21st century while insisting that the clothing real, strong, brave, hard-working women wore actually oppressed them.  We want to see BELLE, not Emma, and Emma, unfortunately, doesn’t understand that she’s supposed to play the character rather than the character becoming herself.

What she’s really getting at, though, is that a “modern” and “strong” woman can’t possibly take a quiet walk into town.  To show how “modern” and “strong” she is, a woman needs to burst onto the scene!  And being quiet means being old-fashioned and weak.  That’s not a very empowering message to send to anyone.

The animated quiet Belle with a temper that could flash was strong for staying true to herself even when the town didn’t like it.  The live-action…Emma…was altered to fit the requirements of other people (i.e. Emma) insist one must be to be strong, and the “rev[ing] things up a bit” hurtfully indicates that there’s something weak about being an introvert.  That actually makes the live-action version a weaker one.  The live-action one isn’t strong enough to be who the character was written to be in every other version of the story, from the original version in 1740 to the animated version in 1991.

Second, what on earth makes a gown feminist or not feminist?  Feminism is about choice.

If a woman freely wants to wear a puffy froufrou thing, she can, and that’s feminism.

If a woman freely wants to wear edgy black and dark, she can, and that’s feminism.

If a woman freely wants to wear hijab, she can, and that’s feminism.

I find it absurd that someone would think that “being a pretty, princess-y kind of dress” works against being modern and strong.  I’m not easily offended, and in fact, my sense of humor can go quite dark.  But this?  This is offensive.  A woman can be EXTREMELY strong in EVERY way, and still enjoy dressing in flowyness and frills.  Insinuating that these things are weak is actually anti-feminist as it’s dictating to us how we must dress to be seen as strong.  Dictating what style of clothing must be worn to be seen as feminist, and dictating what style of clothing needs to be avoided to be seen as feminist, is overtly not feminist by any metric there is.  It’s shaming women for making their own choices about their apparel, and this is disempowering.

Ladies and gents and non-binary folks, you can dress just as feminine or masculine or neutral as you like, and still be completely strong.  You can be a quiet person, and still be strong.  Don’t let anyone tell you, EVER, that you must dress a certain way to be a feminist, or that you have to be an extrovert to be strong.  Feminism means, in small part, wearing what makes YOU comfortable, and strength, in large part, is remaining true to who YOU are and having enough left over to stand up for others in any way, big or small, whether your temper flares or you can maintain self control.  You being you and helping other get to be themselves, and you wearing what you want and helping others get to wear that they want, is both strong AND feminist.

I really can’t wrap my head around how being explosive makes someone stronger, or this who idea of “a pretty, princess-y kind of dress” is inherently not feminist.  That breaks my brain.

This blog post by Marzipan and Minutiae has some fantastic points as well, regarding historical women and examples of advancements and achievements made by women in corsets and huge sleeves and skirts.  Their clothing didn’t stop them from being ahead of their time.  Their clothing was decoration, not them.

It’s really not the clothing that makes a strong person.  It’s the person within the skin.  All else is just icing.

 You be you, and be proud of being you.

Thoughts on the live-action Beauty and the Beast

Before I post a study on the yellow ball gown from Beauty and the Beast, including some incredibly close photos that show startling detail, I want to air my thoughts on this movie so far.  Yes, I’m aware that it’s not out yet, but enough information has come out that I’m bothered by some things that I can’t shake.

Like most fans of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast, I was excited to hear that a live-action version was being made, and like many, my excitement has dwindled into something akin to dread.  The more I’ve heard about it, often through quotes from Emma Watson or others confirmed involved in the production, the less I’ve looked forward to it.  While many images are stunning, I just can’t get over how they didn’t think that Belle being a bookworm was enough of a reason for her to be an outcast.

This is personal to me since I, as a child, was an outcast solely for having an insatiable hunger for reading anything and everything I could get my hands on, whether it was a medical textbook, the encyclopedias, Babysitters Club books, or the ingredients on shampoo bottles.  When the animated movie came out and Belle was an outcast for her love of reading, I instantly identified with someone who was just like me, and suddenly, at least for a short time, a book in hand was an awesome accessory.

Belle’s insecurity also endeared her to me.  Though she was very far from weak, she was still insecure, as I was.  I could have been Belle.  So many of us could have been Belle.  Insecure bookworms.  An insecure bookworm on the big screen whose ability to love and critically thing ultimately saved the day.  How wonderful!

Well, in the new movie, Belle, instead of her father, is the inventor, and this is from Emma Watson herself, and Belle is nothing like the Belle we know and love.

“In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle,” says Watson. “I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”

Sorry, but no.  Merely being a reader is plenty for people to not like you (not to mention the jealousy of the women in town that Belle was considered the supreme beauty who made their husbands drool), and making her the inventor of the washing machine would make her incredibly popular as everyone would want to be her friend to get their hands on one.  She would be a desirable woman to have as a wife as she’d be a cash cow if she can invent something like that.  So rather than answer the question of “why didn’t the town like her?”, which was already answered, we now have a reason for them to all love her, and for Gaston to have a reason, other than her appearance, to want to marry her.

So it should come as no surprise that Emma refused to wear corsets in this production, as she is personally opposed to them.

“Watson was determined to play a princess who had more agency and would be able to take action, and a corset just didn’t fit in with that story line. Watson worked closely with the film’s creators and costume designer Jacqueline Durran to create a new look and personality for Belle. She’ll star as a skilled inventor whose interests include horseback riding.”

This is actually problematic.  How does wearing a corset prevent a woman from inventing or horseback riding?  It doesn’t.  Throughout history, women wore corsets for two primary reasons.  One is to support the weight of heavy gowns by keeping them from digging into the hips and spreading the weight over the whole torso.  The other is they provide back support for working-class women.  You can bet those working-class women did more than horseback riding without being hindered by corsets, and even upper-class women enjoyed riding.  Leisure rides, and even accompanying men on hunts, were popular activities.  And as for hindering inventing, the last time I checked a corset wasn’t even worn on your head.

Okay…continuing on:

“Her decision to forgo the corset is a major deal for a few reasons. First, it sounds like this will be one of the first Disney princess movies where the woman is seen less though the male gaze, and more through a modern and realistic interpretation. Second, it shows women everywhere that the film is prioritizing personality, skills, movement, and actions over appearances—something we can definitely celebrate.”

Except that a problem Belle deals with is how beautiful she is, and how no one bothers to get to know her.  Gaston’s sole reason for wanting to marry her is her looks, even though she hates that she reads. “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking.”  When Beast first meets her, he is intimidated by her, and doesn’t care to get to know her.  He hardy cares about her other than as a way to break a spell.  But he gets to know her as intelligent and interesting, and she teaches him to read.  He learns that the real beauty in her is beneath her exterior.  (This isn’t even touching on the lesson of seeing beneath the beastly exterior of a scared, angry young man, which is a whole other, controversial, topic.)

This is something to celebrate.  Don’t stop at physical appearances.  Get to know someone.  It definitely sounds like this movie has the goal of putting it all out there up front.  Animated Belle had personality and skills, movement, and took a lot of action, though the men in her town only saw her as beautiful and hot.  Is it really going to be a good move to change that?

Emma wants to make this Belle into a role model.  But…but…the original Belle IS a role model.  She is that bullied, outcast, shy, insecure bookworm so so many of us connected and identified with, and she showed up that what mattered is who we are, and that we can be shy and love to read and to think and still be strong and independent.  What is a Belle who is already strong and secure and confident right out the gate going to teach us?  How is she going to connect with today’s children?  Today’s adults may think she’s awesome through adult eyes (“Woman power, YEAH!”), but what if the Belle we all grew up with was made to appeal to adults more, to be what adults thought would be a good role model based on our adult experiences?  Are today’s children really going to be able to see themselves as Belle the way we did?

I understand the desire to make women strong.  This is part of why I also write books, two which are available on Amazon right now under my pen name.  But why remove the challenges Belle would have faced?  There were many women in the time of this story (and the era is indicated very clearly by the costumes of almost everyone else in the production…this is the mid-18th century), many scientists and inventors, who were what we may see as modern women, strong women who, despite the conventions of women being submissive to men, pushed against the challenges.  That is a lot stronger, and a lot more empowering, than removing obstacles.  If you think I’m overthinking this, then consider how overthinking the character of Belle led to some significant fundamental changes to Belle, and ultimately the story (if Belle is the inventor, what is Maurice for?).

Now you can say to wait and see the movie before having opinions on anything, but these are fundamental changes confirmed by Emma Watson herself.  The very things that made me love Belle and feel better about myself as a bullied kid have been changed since she doesn’t see staying true to oneself as being a virtue worth celebrating.  She doesn’t see that as a strength in itself.  In changing Belle so fundamentally, we are being told that you need to change who you are to be okay, to alter everything about yourself to be accepted and to be a role model, that if you are shy or insecure, you’d better buck up and change or else you aren’t good enough, even when the story is entirely about that kind of person staying who she is and people learning to get to know someone.

I will be seeing this movie March 16th.  It’s released on this coast the night before the official date.  I took my daughter to see Cinderella when it opened, but I won’t take her to this until I see it first.  My hope is that I will be pleasantly surprised and manage to see Emma Watson as Belle, though truth be told, all I’m seeing is Hermione.

The idea of Belle being a modern woman in a historical world is carried over to two important wardrobe pieces, which I will cover in my article about her yellow gown and her wedding/”celebration” gown.