I don’t remember the first time I saw Aladdin. My mom tells me that the first movie I ever sat through in its entirety was Beauty and the Beast, but there were a lot of Disney movies in our house. I think these were preferable to my long, repetitive viewings of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and that one Care Bears movie with Mr. Freeze (or whatever his name was).
At any rate, I know I watched Aladdin often enough as a kid to have a matching set of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine dolls. I also vaguely remember thinking Jasmine was the prettiest girl I had ever seen—animated or real.
Of course, it didn’t occur to baby!Samantha that I had a crush on Princess Jasmine. It also didn’t occur to me that my mom had left that one afternoon at the grocery store when I was too busy staring at the pretty cashier to hear Mom say, “Come on, let’s go!”
I didn’t realize I was into women until much, much later. Like, years. Over a decade, actually.
Now that I have, it’s honestly hilarious to think about Princess Jasmine. I mean, obviously, she’s beautiful. She’s also sharp-witted and strong and doesn’t seem overly fond of men. She has a pet tiger, which was the coolest thing in the world when I was a little girl. Her pet tiger—named Rajah, of course—eats mens’ underwear when he chases them away from Jasmine and bites their butts.
She’s swoon-worthy. I totally understand why Aladdin fell so hard for her. (And, as problematic as it is, why he told her to take off her clothes in the balcony scene. Yeah, turn the movie all the way up next time you watch. You can’t miss it.)
I can also understand, as an adult who openly identifies as a lesbian on the internet and off, why baby!Samantha fell for Princess Jasmine. As a kid, I didn’t know I would grow up to be a cat lady with a penchance for mouthing off to men who think they know too much. I didn’t know that I would come to identify a Disney Princess as my first real, recognizable, fictional crush.
But it makes sense.
After Princess Jasmine, there were more crushes—fictional, celebrity, and real. I had an entire wall plastered with photos of Mandy Moore in middle school and still insisted, to anyone who asked, that I was straight. I would point to my “hot guy corner” (covered in pictures of Aragorn and shirtless Justin Timberlake from his first solo Rolling Stone cover) as proof.
Even in high school, when Brooke Davis completely tipped me over the edge into reading femslash and then writing it, I didn’t fully realize. It wasn’t until college, when a friend drunkenly stuck her tongue down my throat at a party, that I figured out I was into women. Really into women.
Now here we are. When I talk about baby!Samantha and her realization process, I always tell the story about the pretty cashier at the grocery store. I was maybe three when that happened, but the memory is crystal clear. I ran out of that store red-cheeked and full of butterflies. The pretty cashier had to tell me that my mom had left before I even noticed. I don’t remember her face. I just remember the feeling.
Princess Jasmine doesn’t usually make the cut when I talk about early crushes, but dang. She definitely should. Retrospectively, using my brunette Barbie dolls as stand-ins for myself was like a very early form of self-insert fanfiction. I so wanted to make out with Princess Jasmine. Honestly, I still kind of do.
There’s a live action remake of Aladdin in the works, and I’m going to see it no matter how bad it is. Multiple times. In theatres. Ideally, Yasmine Sabry will play Princess Jasmine. (Are you there, Disney? It’s me, Samantha. Please make my lesbian wish come true.)