Growing up, YouTube vlogger Deepica Mutyala frequently played dress-up with her friends, as many young girls do. But instead of getting to play the character she wanted to, she was often assigned the role of the one person of color in each scenario simply because she is Indian. "I always wanted to be Posh Spice, but by default, I was Scary Spice," she writes on her blog. "I always wanted to be Kelly Kapowski, but I had to be Lisa Turtle." And as far as Disney princesses go, she was always Jasmine. "To be completely honest, I always wanted to be Jasmine growing up, but looking back, I think it's because I felt like it was the only option," Mutyala tells us. "I felt like being anything else was out of the question because of the color of my skin, which is a big reason why I wanted to make this video." The video, above, is a part of her #BeYourOwnPrincess project, through which she encourages ladies of all age groups to be whoever they damn well please. The vid opens up with a text conversation between Mutyala and her friend, in which they're discussing what they're going to be for Halloween. When Mutyala mentions that she wants to go as a princess, her friend responds, "Who knows... Maybe you'll find your Aladdin this year ;)" "The text conversation is very real, and I think the concept behind it is something people can relate to — that feeling of assumptions being made about you based on your skin color," Mutyala says. And her message isn't just for the girls and women of color; it's for anyone who has struggled to be accepted.
The text conversation is very real, and I think the concept behind it is something people can relate to — that feeling of assumptions being made about you based on your skin color.
The video continues with Mutyala transforming herself into Cinderella, Ariel, and, yes, Jasmine. But also, into a prince. "I will be the first to admit that I'm not a pro, but it makes me sick to my stomach reading about all the bullying happening to the transgender community. I hope this video helps a kid out there feel comfortable being his or her true self," she writes on her blog. "I also hope it helps parents out there let their kids feel comfortable being their true selves. You can be whoever it is you want to be, no matter what you look like on the outside. It's who you are on the inside that really counts and defines you." While the project is titled #BeYourOwnPrincess, it goes way beyond that. "The deeper message is something that's general to life, and not just about what to be for Halloween — be your own person, no matter what society tells you. When I decided on the name...my thought process was that 'princess' is really just a placeholder for person," Mutyala writes. Read more about the project on Mutyala's blog, and watch the video for both life and Halloween inspiration. Interested in re-creating any of the looks yourself? Heed this advice from Mutyala: "Define and heighten the features you're the most proud of. Even when we were creating these looks for me, we focused on the aspects of each princess and prince that complement my individual features — like eyes for Jasmine, brows for the prince, etc.," she tells us. "That way, you can create the look you're going for while maintaining your individuality, which to me is really what makes these looks so great."