Belle was the first character I ever portrayed. While the beginning of my cosplay journey will be covered in a separate blog, I can at least give you the gist of how this came about. Basically, I found out there was a princess company in my area. At the time I looked at it more of a group of girls dressing up for events because I didn’t realize it was such a legitimate thing. When I reached out to offer my availability, because I noticed in an event photo the group lacked a Belle, I was politely turned down because the group did have a Belle, she just wasn’t pictured. Some time passed and the owner of the company reached out to me asking if I wanted to be a part of a mini shoot as a couple of characters and can you guess what I said?
I was invited to be first be Belle. Funny thing actually, I don’t recall watching Beauty and the Beast when I was young. I remember watching every other princess movie except this one and I’m not sure why, Belle looked so much like me! So in truth, Belle didn’t hold much sentimental value to me but I was happy to be there either way. I enjoyed the photo shoot, living in a blissful moment as I was able to twirl as this beautiful character, but little did I know that would spark my interest in learning more about the character and growing closer to her.
When I took over the company I worked for, again more information will be in a separate blog, the first high quality costume I put my own money in to was Belle. I recant part of that last statement- When I took over the company I worked for, I begged my parents to help me purchase the first high quality costume I could call mine. I absorbed our company in the month of August so I asked my parents if they were willing to help me out with the purchase as an early Christmas gift. Around the time of my taking over my maternal grandmother had actually passed away, so my mom gifted me a sum of money as a gift from my late grandmother to use towards the gown so that I was able to get it which immediately added a large amount of sentimental value to this character. A quick side note: The maker of this dress is a highly coveted american seamstress who has been providing the princess industry with high quality character gowns for years. She rarely has the availability to post ready-to-ship items and her current wait time is at least a year unless you get lucky and a spot opens up. She listed this Belle dress for sale so the urgency of snatching it up before someone else did was highly prominent. But I think you can gather that I managed to get the dress.
This dress is a beautiful butter yellow made with high quality fabrics and features a full circle skirt, the best for twirling. I’m frequently asked who my favorite character to be is, and while I feel that my personality resonates better with more upbeat characters like Ariel, I feel so regal and elegant as Belle. In 2019 I went to DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. This was by far the largest con I had been to so I walked a lot, met a lot of people and took a lot of photos. I agreed to be part of a character encounter and was assigned to be Belle so I was able to wear this gown I had invested so much money in. The character encounter was only a small part of my day but I stayed in costume the entire day I was at the con. I received a lot of compliments and I have to admit, my favorite thing was hearing the whispered compliments as I walked by.
Jumping back in time for a moment, my husband and I traveled to Europe to elope and while I was there I had a spur of the moment idea to get a tattoo. We started our trip in Austria, where we had our ceremony, then continued the vacation to Germany where we stayed with a friend of mine from the states. She knew of a tattooer she had previously used and liked in the city of Mannheim. I decided that while there I wanted to get a tattoo that meant something to me, so I chose a rose to go on the back of my arm that was a representation of my experience as a princess but not just that, it was a tribute to my first princess, the princess whose name is translated to beauty, the princess who’s story encourages us to learn and the princess who not only shows kindness and compassion to others but who also finds the beauty within others when they might be misunderstood.
Belle will now and forever hold a special place in my heart and will always remain a big part of my life and my story. While I wont always be able to accurately portray her for children’s parties and events because I know inevitably I will age out of this chapter of my life, I will cherish the memories I made as this princess and I will look forward to one day hopefully seeing my daughter wear this dress and feel the joy I’ve felt as her.