When I first saw this video I cried.
Our perception of beauty and desire to be 'seen' starts when we are little.
It is a learned behaviour, moulded by what society and our mainstream media portrays as beautiful or desirable.
I see it in children, I see it in my three year old god-daughter. Disney is a powerful influencer from such a young age.
After my own engagement, I quickly noticed that any depiction of bridal beauty was almost always aligned with your classic Cinderella. Gorgeous but limited. It was one of the reasons I started writing Nu Bride and it was this "love letter to the wedding industry" I wrote that inspired the talented team Viva La Wedding to produce this incredible shoot with a fresh spin on Disney Princesses using real women, from various ethnic backgrounds, to tell a modern day fairytale.
I interviewed Manchester based, Jo from Viva La Wedding to find out more about the inspiration behind the shoot:
"Nova's work has inspired me many times, but when she wrote about feeling excluded when planning her own wedding, because she couldn't find any representation of women like her in the magazines and blogs, that gave me an idea. What if we created a series of styled bridal shoots that would depict women of various ethnicities as fairytale princesses, photographing them on location in stunning wedding venues and capturing iconic moments from each fairytale?
Princesses are the ultimate beauty icon and as they are so often depicted as being white, I thought it would be empowering to subvert that and show beautiful princesses of different ethnicities."
"Nova mentored me throughout. Finding models was actually the easiest part of the process. Tammy (Sleeping Beauty at Ordsall Hall) and Sabbi (Rapunzel at Whalley Abbey ) were good friends of mine. Gifty (Snow White at Towneley Hall) worked in my local supermarket and Wendy (Cinderella at Carlton Towers) was a former customer. I was pretty nervous about approaching them. It was almost like asking them on a date, but fortunately they were all keen to take part!
Finding venues was more tricky, but after a lot of trawling though Google images we found the perfect locations"
"The shoot was a labour of love and took over a year to intricately and sensitively facilitate. Working alongside Viva La Wedding was a team of exceptional vendors; including Pamella Dunn and who transformed the spaces into these iconic fairytale scenes and Aimee Akbar whose fabulous hair and makeup made our princesses truly shine.
Four UK venues and designers also dedicated an immense amount of their time and talent for no motivation other than to make a change, to contribute to making the wedding industry more visually inclusive and to shift the standard of bridal beauty by simply representing more women.
Jo of Viva la wedding says using non-models for the shoot was deliberate:
"If I could call upon four friends and acquaintances of different looks and ethnicities and ask them to participate in a shoot, then the bridal industry could try a bit harder to include women of colour, because we all deserve to be princesses, especially on our wedding day!"
When your message starts to resonate with people outside of your sphere, there is great potential to contribute to change. That's the thing about striving for equality, for us to be able to make positive change, instead of disassociating, we have to embody the issues as our problem too, and not just "theirs".
I'd buy a magazine with any of these beauties from our real princesses shoot on the front cover.
Ultimately their race should be irrelevant and I look forward to the day when it truly is and you can see a gorgeously eclectic range of beauty on the front of any bridal publication!
A version of this article was first seen on Nu Bride