A WHOLE NEW PRINCESS - THE NEW JASMINE

BY MARIA THATTIL

It was always the fairytale that felt like it was ‘mine.’ As a young girl, Princess Jasmine was a princess who I looked up to. Her skin was like mine and her attire reminded me of the salwar kameez in my closet. As a woman, the tale never fails to enchant me, so I was completely transfixed when I watched the 2019 remake.

Disney’s new-age Aladdin remake is still the tale of the kind-hearted street rat, but I loved the focus on the new Jasmine. A woman who refused to bend to the will of others, challenged the status quo, and fought for what she believed in - the new Princess is iconic. So, I’ve drawn on my own experiences and character in the remake to become Jasmine in the modern day. Fearless, courageous, self-empowered and free.

JASMINE - THE GIRL BOSS

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“Fierce, confident and powerful, Jasmine is a woman who has chased her passions to carve the career of her dreams. In 2019, she’s smashing glass ceilings instead of marriage proposals and knows how to kick corporate goals whilst still slaying a power suit.”

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As a young woman in my career, I experienced a time where I felt like I had to compromise who I wanted to be. To be successful in my corporate career, I once felt like I couldn’t indulge my creative inclinations and had to give up and hide the creative ‘content creator’ side of me - the part fuelled by passion.

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But I refused to believe that I needed to fit neatly into a box to meet someone else’s expectation of who I should be and decided to pursue all the things that made me ‘me’. That meant believing that I could establish a strong professional brand in my corporate job and still be the creative artist who merges her love for beauty and fashion to create art that tells stories.

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Like Jasmine, I did what was right for me and pursued both careers: challenged and stimulated in a corporate context, whilst satisfying the creative in me and working as a blogger and artist who uses her platform to advocate for representation and inclusive beauty standards.

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From Jasmine and I - Don’t let someone else tell you what you can and can’t achieve. You have it in you to design the life you want, and if you are full of fire, passion, self-determination and courage, you have a choice, can make your dreams come true and live life on your terms.

JASMINE - THE ROMANTIC

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“It’s Saturday night and after nailing the bubble pony, putting on a slip-style dress and spritzing herself one last time with Si by Armani, Jasmine is ready for date night. En route to meet Aladdin in the CBD, she waits for her Uber, enjoys the Autumn atmosphere and relishes the second-date mix of nerves and excitement as she wonders if Aladdin could be ‘the guy.’ ”

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My parents were strict growing up, but into my late teens and early twenties, we strengthened our relationship of trust and they gave me the freedom to date and come into my own as a woman.

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5 years ago whilst travelling in Europe, I met my now boyfriend, and my life has never been the same since exploring the freedom to fall in love with who I chose.

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The new age Jasmine develops the same relationship of trust with her father who supports her to be with who she wants to freely. She falls head over heels in love with Aladdin, a man who represents the freedom she aspires to and shows her the kind of world she has long felt she has missed out on.

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From Jasmine and I - Follow your heart - always. Whilst it is beautiful to have support for your relationships and choices, sometimes situations aren’t always rosy and in life, you might be faced with the opinions of other people who tell you who you can and cannot love. Believe in your own heart, take control of your future and tap into the freedom you deserve to love who you want to love freely. Have enough self-belief to take a chance on yourself and do what you believe to be best.

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JASMINE - THE DESI QUEEN

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“She can show you HER world. With a wardrobe abundant in jewelled attire, a pantry full of spices and a rich family history, Jasmine’s world is one coloured with culture and peppered with pride. A desi dream, she is proud of her roots and for those who know her, they are taken on a trip into a whole new world filled with wonder and awe.”

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A Bengali Keralite born and raised in Australia, I have always felt a pull tearing me between the pressure to assimilate into the Western society I was raised in, or identify with the culture I was born into. In my school days, I became particularly conscious of my culture and started to realise how I was different. It wasn’t cool to watch Bollywood movies, wear a salwar kameez in social settings or bring Biryani for lunch because it wasn’t common.

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From as young as primary school, I started to develop behaviour and thoughts that reflected an underlying self-rejection, that manifested into a cultural identity crisis in my teenage years. The song ‘Speechless’ in the film resonated with me because just like Jasmine felt the pressure from a ‘wave’ meant to wash her away, I felt the pressure to “wash away” the Indian part of who I was, because I didn’t feel like I belonged so long as I embraced it.

Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder
— SPEECHLESS - Naomi Scott, Aladdin

Thirteen was the last time I ever wore Indian clothing. The last time I was ever photographed in cultural attire.

But like the lyrics, I want to put an end to the story I used to tell myself - that the Indian part of me should not be seen or heard. Like Jasmine, I have grown to be self-empowered, and accept myself as I am. Like the lyrics in the song, I’ve challenged a narrative I’ve maintained since I was thirteen. A narrative telling me to hide who I am, a narrative that stripped me of the choice to embrace my culture, a narrative I told myself to silence my roots. Like the lyrics in the song, I have found my voice, and slowly, I am re-connecting with my roots. It has been a journey to get to the point I am at today.

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Centuries old and unbending
”Stay in your place”
”Better seen and not heard”
But now that story is ending
— SPEECHLESS - Naomi Scott, Aladdin

For the first time in 13 years, I wore a choli (blouse) with a churidar (loose trousers) & dupatta (similar to a long scarf). This shoot will always be special to me for this reason. Aesthetically inspired by the colour palette from the Disney remake, I styled the outfit with my mum’s jewellery from India. The night before the shoot, I sat with my Mum as she went through boxes upon boxes of bangles, pyals (anklets) & tikkas, and I felt a mix of over-whelming pride, love and connection to my Mum and like Jasmine, I have recognised the power of standing up for myself and embracing all of me.

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From Jasmine and I - Never ever be ashamed of who you are, or allow self-deprecating narratives to silence you. Sometimes, it is not an external force but our own selves who can be our greatest enemy. Whatever your vice, remember that you have a voice, a choice and that is all the power you need. Use it to embrace and accept yourself, and in loving and standing up for yourself and what you believe in, you will transform your life.

Disney’s live action Aladdin is in cinema now - it’ll make you both laugh and cry, but mostly it’ll warm your heart and inspire you.

MAKEUP: Maria Thattil

HAIR: SSHAIRR - Shannan Catania (@sshairr)

CREATIVE DIRECTION: Maria Thattil

PHOTOGRAPHY & CREATIVE CONSULTATION: Shannan Catania

OUTFITS

  1. Suit by MESHKI & heels by WINDSOR SMITH

  2. Dress by ELLIATT & earrings by LULUGRACIE AUS - all other jewellery is vintage

  3. Outfit and jewellery - vintage

This campaign was in partnership with Walt Disney Australia.

Maria Thattil