I recently and belatedly concluded the latest episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and something struck me hard in the heart (ha): The Red Queen (a.k.a. Anastasia) makes the best role model for young women that I have ever seen.
Some of you might be outraged by this because she takes evil to a bitterly cold level, but do me a favor and try to see past that, because you will thank me when you have a new role model at the end of this.
This woman does what she wants, when she wants, and doesn’t take any shit from Jafar.
The Red Queen doesn’t take no for an answer from anyone, ever, including her own mother. She focuses in on something and looks through the obstacles like some kind of badass x-ray machine, dentist office edition. When someone tells her that she can’t do something, she scoffs and says, “Watch me.”
Jafar literally holds her life in his hands multiple times and he seems to obviously outmatch the Queen, but she rocks his world more than a few times, practically making the arrogant villain weep in her presence, which is really all that women want from men. (No? Just me?) Lest we forget, she is supposed to be barely out of her teen years and relatively new to magic, so.
Aside from his bullshit, this girl goes to Wonderland and becomes poor, a nobody foreigner, and eventually, a crook. Despite this, she manages to
A) Become Queen.
B) Convince her subjects to ADORE her.
C) Learn magic (which I understand is pretty hard in the OUAT Multiverse).
D) Capture a genie.
E) Outwit Jafar, which is still my favorite plot point.
As the king says: She has the desire to be more than she is.
In a flashback to the Red Queen’s past, we learn that she made an attempt to steal the Crown Jewels and was conveniently caught by the King, rather than his guards. Aside from this obvious oversight of realism (then again, we are in Wonderland) the scene is great, and the greatest part about this scene is when the future Queen basically tells the King that he’s shit outta luck and continues to rob the cabinet of the jewels while he watches. Lol.
At this point, the King looks upon Anastasia and says, “There’s something about you, girl.” That something, it turns out, was “the desire to be more than you are”. This is so important. A quality that every girl should grow up being taught is the desire to be more than she is. That could mean more generous, loving, high-achieving, smart, or literally in terms of social status. In Anastasia’s case, it meant being more accomplished, and probably badass, which I dig the hell out of. And look at the girl an unaccounted-for amount of time later: she’s the muh fuggin Red Queen, plebeians!
“Everything I have, I had to take.”
Now, I’m not condoning kidnaping the protagonist’s boyfriend, abandoning your own, or making a devil’s bargain with a questionable dude like Jafar, but nothing in life will ever be handed to you so, if you want something, you damn well better take it.
This is an important lesson for young girls in particular because in this society, girls are taught to be quiet, make themselves smaller so men can be bigger (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever had to ride the New York subway), and to be unobtrusive. Not to mention, we’re taught to put our own needs after everyone else’s; something about “women as nurturers” or some bullshit like that.
I can tell you right now that I’m not a nurturer, never will be, and have no qualms about that. There are things in this world that I want, and I’m probably going to take them, if I can. Anastasia was offered something in life and that was to be made a duchess if she’s a good girl and could catch a duke to marry like her mother told her to. This option was her only option, other than running away with her boyfriend, which obviously turned out way cooler.
And that’s the thing. Most of us are offered a general outline of a path by our parents or guardians and it usually comes with three meals a day and a place to sleep (if we’re lucky). No one came up and offered this girl a crown. Again, I know she did some shady things to get it, and I strongly suspect the list includes murder of a monarch, but the principle stands. If you want to be more than you are, no one is going to give you the opportunity, you have to take it.
Seriously though, don’t kill any kings.
This is really the only argument I need.
This lady is more than a pretty face, mmkay? In the ball flashback, when Anastasia and Will (boyfriend) sneak into the palace to attend the ball, she adapts immediately. She’s in the room for less than thirty seconds when she hears a noble say something to the effect of, “I was just admiring the Crown Jewels. They’re fabulous, darling.”
We then see Anastasia practice this statement, tasting it, trying it out, seeing how it fits. Suddenly in enters the king and instead of regurgitating the statement, she totally adapts to the persona and convinces the king that she belongs there. Boy, I don’t know about you, but this scene made my finger tips tingle… amongst other things.
Everyone tells you “fake it ’til you make it”, and that’s some of the most practical advice you will ever get. No one is born into the persona of an accountant, a CEO, a news anchor, or A BLOODY QUEEN. You have to adapt to the persona the public expects from someone in your position, or the position you aspire to be in, and if you can do that in under a minute, you just might have the stuff, kid.
What I like about this show is that they did the whole “writing strong women” thing with its characters, which currently seems to be in vogue thanks to Joss Whedon, but they took it a step further. They wrote complicated women. Alice is awesome with the whole beating-the-ever-living-shit-out-of-every-bad-man-she-encounters thing, but the Red Queen is walking power. She commands respect everywhere she goes and doesn’t back down from ANYTHING. OK? ANYTHING. SHE STARES DEATH IN THE FACE AND LITERALLY LAUGHS.
I aspire to be like the Red Queen when I grow up (I still haven’t done that, remember?) and every little girl should do the same. Friendly reminder not to kill any monarchs or abandon the only person in the world who loves you, but take everything you want (re: NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS, K?) instead of waiting for it to be handed to you; Don’t be afraid to use your brain, be fabulous because you’re worth it, and don’t compromise for any man.
And most importantly, always, always, always, make your entrances like this: