I certainly went through a lot of phases as a kid—”obsessed with horses” and “convinced for six months that I was a goth.” But I don’t think anything tops my childhood passion for Beauty and the Beast. I had the entire soundtrack on tape cassette and listened to it constantly. I watched the movie daily from ages two to five and always wore my Belle Halloween costume (handmade by my mom) and danced around the living room clutching my stuffed animal Beast during the end credits.
Belle was always my favorite because, in 1991, she wasn’t like the other princesses. And I don’t mean that to denigrate Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. But there was a whole song about how she preferred reading to human interaction! She could hold a witty conversation and burned unworthy men with her sarcasm. She had a temper. She had a strong sense of who she was and what she wanted. She was passionate and ambitious about things not related to romance. (Plus, she had brown hair like yours truly).
As every ’90s kid loses their mind about the new teaser for the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast and we gear up to see Hermione Granger—I mean, Emma Watson—play Belle in 2017, I thought that this was the perfect time for me to revisit everything I’ve learned from this movie.
1. Reading is cool
Can you think of another Disney princess who reads? Belle hated her town life, but instead of wallowing, she turned to books to explore places and ideas outside of what she knew. Just seeing her wandering through town reading was sneakily revolutionary.
2. Being smart can scare
Belle’s intellect horrified her suitor, Gaston. “Soon, she’ll start getting ideas, and thinking?!” Gasp—a woman with a brain! People mocked and made fun of her father (and then locked them both up in the mental institution because this was 18th-century France), but she never bowed to peer pressure. She never put away her books or denounced her father. She knew who she was, and she didn’t care to play by the narrow-minded rules of the townspeople.
3. Dating someone just because they’re attractive isn’t a good idea
Just because everyone else is into that hot jerk doesn’t mean you have to be—nor should you be “grateful” for his advances. We’re looking at you, Gaston. And Belle never bowed to his creepy demands.
4. First impressions are often inaccurate
Yes, the Beast was kind of the worst when we first met him. He locked her father in a dungeon. He had a horrible, destructive temper. And he was also, well, a monster. Belle was not a fan. But she had to rethink what she knew about him after he saved her life from a pack of wolves.
5. You really have to know someone to love them
Related to the above point, there was no “love at first sight” moment in this movie. At least, not from Belle. The Beast had to consistently prove himself to her with his words and his actions that he was worthy of her affections.
6. It’s not always the man that does the rescuing
Sure, there was a kiss that broke a spell. And there was a dramatic stand-off at the top of a tower, as well as a flight through the woods on horseback. But it wasn’t the Beast in pursuit of Belle—it was Belle coming to his rescue. She realized what the villagers planned to do and she went to warn him. And she ultimately saved him not only from Gaston, but from his own curse.