how to be a modern-day princess in america
india ink & watercolor on bristol board, hand-bound with thread and rubber cement
9" x 14.5"
i wrote, illustrated and made this book by hand as a final project for a drawing class my second year of college. at the time, i was kinda obsessed with this book about givenchy that i got from the art library; it was filled with sketches and photos of haute couture, and it made me wish i were some kind of clothing designer, too. but, of course, i am not that. so, instead, my illustrations for this book, which was supposed to be semi-autobiographical yet inspiring, were based on givenchy's sketching style. the book reads as follows:
how to be a modern-day princess in america by diane lee
i could've been a princess. it's too bad that i was born sixteen centuries [ed. note: this should be "generations", not centuries.] too late...and in america. yes, i could have been quite the korean princess during the yi dynasty.
i was named after the late princess diana. named a princess, almost born a princess—i believe this is not simply a coincidence. this is fate. i was meant to be a princess, too. but how?
what exactly is a princess, and what does she do?
1. a woman member of a royal family other than the monarch, especially a daughter of a monarch. 2. a. a woman who is a ruler of a principality. b. a woman who is a hereditary ruler; a queen.
3. a noblewoman of varying status or rank.
4. the wife of a prince.
5. a woman regarded as having the status or qualities of a princess.
well now, what are the qualities of a princess?
does she need to have the smallest feet of all the girls in town? that might have worked for cinderella, but in this day and age, bigger is better.
does she need to be so sensitive that a pea under her mattress could keep her from getting her much needed beauty rest? certainly not.
does she need a knight in shining armor on a fast horse to come sweep her off her feet? considering this is modern-day america we're talking about, i'd say no.
a fairy tale for the assertive woman
once upon a time, in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog as she sat contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a verdant meadow near her castle. the frog hopped into the princess' lap and said: "elegant lady, i was once a handsome prince until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. one kiss from you, however, and i will turn back into the dapper, young prince that i am, and then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in yon castle with my mother, where you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so."
that night, while dining on lightly sautéed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled to herself and thought: "i don't fucking think so."
so, a princess should...
1. be larger than life. plunge into it with a passion.
2. be thick-skinned and confident.
3. be an independent woman. knight in shining armor? all you need is a fast car and a cell phone.
4. put herself first and not let anyone push her around.
5. love herself no matter what and know that she is a princess.
"i've often thought that i should like to be a princess; i wonder what it feels like. i believe i will begin pretending i am one." —a little princess, frances hodgson burnett
i AM a princess.