By: Jessica Dinius
The most shocking, frightening and amazing thing about this whole thing, is that my story isn’t unique. It’s the story of dozens of girls all over theme parks! We share a narrative of what its like to have to try to be perfect every day of our lives, what that looks like and how we got out.
Once upon a time in a kingdom much like yours, minus of course the giant fake castles, over the top entertainment and clusters of tourists, I was a hopeful young girl who just wanted to act and sing.
My first paid acting job in Orlando was as a princess..
The audition was bizarre, I remember being so excited to try on the costume and to BE a princess instead of watch them.
I wasn’t fancy or girly, but I had a tiara and was soooo popular.
I got to live the dream of being a princess. It was cool, and for 19 years old, it paid really well.
Not to mention that it was my first paid acting job! I had arrived, and was on my way to being a full time professional actress!
From that point on, I spent most weekends (while in college) dressing up, eating cereal and watching cartoons.
It was pretty much the dream.
Until it wasn’t…
In 2010 I was disapproved from my character for no longer “fitting the silhouette”.
What does that mean? Essentially my body wasn’t “princess” appropriate, and to keep my job I was required to drop 4 dress sizes.
(2 sizes smaller than the other performers my height).
The final 10 pounds was required to be lost in a week, yes you read that right –1 week.
Was this done in a healthy way? Nope!
And even after that, I was pushed to continue to lose weight.
At my smallest I was a 00 and I’m 5’7”.
I was often asked if I “really needed to eat that”, referring to the one meal a day I would eat typically consisting of a single packet of tuna with 1 packet of mustard (because fun fact: mustard doesn’t have any calories).
As my weight dropped further, and my costumes were taken in, I was praised on how amazing I looked.
The mental manipulation was insane. I had let someone else’s view of what I should be determine my worth…
My disordered eating wasn’t a secret, everyone knew I wasn’t eating!
Yet, I let a theme park tell me my weight determined my worth as a person.
My job determined my value.
I watched them say the exact same things to someone else verbatim and it was like a scene from a movie. You know the ones where light begins to tunnel signalling a flash back. And I knew in those moments that I couldn’t let them tell me how to treat my body anymore. It was a job, and not a great paying one at that!
To this day, I still have moments where I think about the things that bothered me from my time in the park.
I was part of the problem. The role I played wasn’t building up girls and young women… I remember one little girl, who was maybe 6 at the oldest. Her parents were shouting out for her to do sexy poses. She had a full face of makeup and I remember thinking and knowing it was off when I saw it. I now appreciate how wrong it really was.
I don’t want to shove those types of negative messages down anyone’s throat, or even passively stand by.
Instead, lets teach everyone to embrace the body they have and teach them that they are beautiful the way they were born… after all, no one is ever going to look like a cartoon.
Fast forward to today, I still perform, but not at theme parks and I feel so incredibly blessed to work for the people I do.
They would kick my butt if they saw me eat nothing but packets of tuna daily-a food to this day I avoid.
Disordered eating is something that will never leave me, but at least I can say my worth is no longer determined by a scale and a theme park.
Owner Of: Life After The Glass Slipper
Jess spent over 10 years working as a professional theme park princess eventually opened her own company, in 2017 she retired completely from the industry. She now writes about her experience from the inside as well as her favorite beauty and fashion tips she’s picked up from her time inside. You can hang out with her on her Blog, Facebook, or Instagram.