By Chloe Leach
Since I was about six years old, I remember family trips to the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” These were the highlights of a somewhat complicated childhood, and bright spots that would fuel drawings, stories, and happy daydreams for me all year long. I remember the most awe-inspiring thing about these experiences wasn’t the rides or the parades; it was meeting my heroines from fairytales in real life. Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel were larger-than-life examples of beauty, feminine strength, and endless possibility. To my young mind, they were icons of hope and goodness, and everything I wanted to grow up to be. Meeting our heroes is great at any age. But when we’re young, there’s still an element of belief in the impossible, and our imaginations aren’t so hampered by doubt and cynicism. Getting the chance to hug and talk to my favorite princesses was a dream come true, and that afterglow stayed with me long after the plane ride back to reality.
As I grew, I began to realize the significance these characters have as role models and inspirations, and the huge effect this had on other kids besides me. I understood that meeting our favorite characters was meeting an embodiment of our hopes and aspirations, and that was powerful. By age 12, I had decided that I wanted nothing more than to grow up to do this for other kids. My interests developed and changed over the years, but that dream always stuck with me. I don’t remember exactly when I stopped being the kid dressed as a princess and became the girl in an iconic dress, causing reactions of pure elation from children with recognition in their wide eyes. I do recall arriving at one party as Elsa, and a snow machine had been prepared for my surprise visit. As I walked up to the house in a flurry of “snow”, the kids inside caught sight of me through the window. Instant PANDEMONIUM. It was the most delightful chorus of shrill, happy screams that could have rivaled fans at a Beatles concert.
Over the years, I’ve been so fortunate to play a wide range of princesses in many fun settings. From story hour to charity events to festivals and fairs, every occasion is a good one to be a princess. While I’m frequenting the Disney parks, I’m almost always in a themed outfit to match my favorite characters. Close, but not too close, to the real thing!
In 2018, my good friend Meg Bowen launched a princess party company, opening up all sorts of opportunities for character appearances! As You Wish Princess Party Co is a labor of love in every regard.
One of the best things about being a princess is that when you meet a child, they already have a connection with you. This makes them eager to share (usually in a rush of giddy energy) all of the things that excite them and fascinate them. This connection can also bring out some pretty deep emotions. Meg and I have fought back tears ourselves as we listen to kids articulate the struggles in their lives, or hugged mothers who were crying tears of gratitude. This princess business isn’t for the faint of heart, and it isn’t as simple as just putting on a dress.
It’s a beautiful opportunity to bring joy, comfort, and courage to people where they’re at. That’s a dream come true for me!