On the back of my laptop is an orange oblong sticker that reads, Beauty will save the world.
It’s no coincidence that my favorite fairy tale of all time is Beauty and the Beast.
A young girl enters a dark stone castle in order to save her father, and through the power of her friendship, shreds the spell that enshrouded the selfish heart of a prince who was cursed to appear as a haggard beast until another soul deemed him worthy of love.
There’s much to be said about beauty as a source of calm, healing, and new hope, but I’m more interested in examining what happens to our heroine when she becomes a stranger in a strange land.
She leaves her family, home, and culture to tread the shadowed halls of a palace rife with despair and broken dreams. She accepts a new status, learns to converse with an ill-mannered ingrate, and finds love that goes beyond physical appearance.
In my travels to foreign places, I’ve found that as soon as you remove my native language, cultural norms, and sense of complacent invisibility, I’m freed to be someone entirely different.
I can make new choices that follow none of my usual patterns, I can talk to strangers who I’d normally avoid, I can love fearlessly because my eyes are widened by the bright strangeness of my surroundings.
The magic of Beauty and the Beast flows from the person who our heroine is allowed to become when she enters a frightening, different world.
Have you experienced a freedom of behavior like this when you visited a strange, unfamiliar place?