Once Upon A Time, There Was A Pretty Woman…

Twenty-two years ago, one of the most iconic rom-coms was released.  Tonight, I watched Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, in the film that made her name, and Richard Gere as arrogant-but-lovable businessman, Edward Lewis.  The difference between Pretty Woman and most romantic comedies, is that the lady in question, is a prostitute from Hollywood Boulevard.

I remember watching the film in the early 90s, when I would have been around the age of eleven or twelve, and wishing so much that I could be like Vivian.  Of course, being too young to appreciate what being a hooker actually meant, it was the fairytale that I wanted to be part of, not the seedy life of sex that had been Vivian’s life before Edward.

Now I’m 34, and watching the film still evokes the same feelings in me.  I feel for her when the women in the boutique on Rodeo Drive are nasty to her.  I cried when she cried at the opera.  I cried when Richard Gere climbed up the tower to rescue her.

Last year, during my study abroad period in America, I wrote a short fairy tale, about a princess who no longer decides to wait for her prince to come, and it is only many years later, when she has a successful writing career and is happy with her life, that she meets the man of her dreams.  Some people have correctly recognised me as the princess.  Of course it is me.  For reasons such as I have been watching Pretty Woman for the last two decades, and every time I cry because to me it remains just that; a fairy tale.

I don’t know if I will ever meet my prince.  My heart has been broken, not by being in love, but by heartache, in disguise as love, but what was actually nothing but a cruel fairy tale with no happy ending.  I still long to believe that like Vivian, I will meet the man of my dreams and that I will fall in love with him, and him with me.  But as time goes by, I am left to wonder whether fairy tales do actually exist, or if they are just stories we are told to give us false hope.

Soon I will write an essay about this film.  I will observe how one of the lead characters is a prostitute; how the other lead is patriarchal; how the film represents the high-low culture debate perfectly.  I will not mention how much my heart aches when I watch it, or how much hope it gives me when Edward climbs up the tower to rescue Vivian.  That is what I will keep in my heart, to hold the shattered pieces together, for I cannot live without the fairy tale.  I must have hope that one day it may come true.  Otherwise, what hope is there?


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