This post is related to a show called “Steven Universe”, created by Rebecca Sugar, airing on Cartoon Network. The plot of the show so far can be found here.
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Self-love, to be exact.
Not so long ago, the Steven Universe Fandom was in a total chaos when Rebecca Sugar (a.k.a. the creature of the show, a.k.a. one the most amazing and talented people ever) released the incredible episode “A Single Pale Rose” and shocked everyone – myself included – with the revelation that Rose Quartz is actually Pink Diamond. Since then, almost every fan/cartoon/animation-related blogs and YouTube channel have been posting their own interpretations and reviews of the episode, as well as its impact on the show and the audience. Obviously, there have been mixed reviews about the episode. Aside from those discussing the contribution of “A Single Pale Rose” to the show’s plot, I have come across some focusing on what the audience can take or learn from this big revelation. And to my surprise, there are opinions stating that Pink Diamond transforming into Rose Quartz is a sign that Pink Diamond does not really love herself for who she is.
First of all, I do fully understand that opinions and interpretations are extremely personal and subjective. I can also see how this piece of information carries a lot more meaning to the audience than it seems, for this revelation involves a character as big and influential as Rose Quartz, in a show as big and influential as Steven Universe. Rose has literally been the hidden drive behind the actions, words and characteristics of every character, hence the show’s plot. She is the mysterious missing piece that connects everything, the true leader of the Crystal Gems to save the Earth, the defender of Love. Needless to say, such a fundamental figure is very significant to the audience, especially young children that look up to her. So instead of looking at the glass half empty, I decided to see Rose Quartz’s true identity being Pink Diamond more positively. Here are my take and response to some rather negative reviews of “A Single Pale Rose”.
The Rose Quartz identity gave Pink Diamond her most cherished desire for Freedom. Freedom to explore the Earth. Freedom to protect the Earth. Freedom to lead and have her voice heard. Freedom to love humans, even romantically. Freedom to be her true self. In order words, Rose Quartz is Pink Diamond’s way of showing her true self some love. Rose Quartz has always been Pink Diamond’s mind. All Pink Diamond needed was a body for Rose. The creation of Rose Quartz sufficed.
Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz are not two different characters in any way. They are one. Different appearances yet only one mind. One true self.
Considering how far Pink Diamond has gone to keep Rose Quartz alive and permanent, even by setting up a fake shattering of herself (Pink Diamond), I think Pink Diamond really, really, really loves herself. The topic of Love in Steven Universe is a major and center one, from love towards humans (The Crystal Gems), romantic love (Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond towards Greg, Pearl towards Rose/Pink and I also think the connection between Steven and Connie is really adorable), to family love (Greg and Steven, the mother-son kind of relationship between Garnet and Steven, even Rose seems to be a mother figure for Amethyst). Yet self-love is the type of love that I rarely see appearing on the show or having a big impact on the audience (besides Sadie standing up for herself and some fans’ interpretation of the meaning behind Steven’s shield) so this hidden plot for self-love is surely a refreshing and heart-warming gem. (No pun intended :))
This expression of self-love might seem pretty paradoxical at first glance, and I completely understand that. It took me a while too to really figure out how turning oneself into someone else can be a form of self-love. But it is actually pretty simple. True self-love means self-care. True self-love means knowing what one wants, both physically and mentally, and deciding whether what one wants is good or not, or if what one wants is what one needs or not. Self-love does not necessarily means indulgence, but rather knowing when and what one needs to change to become better, from taking a day off or start exercising more. It means doing what is good for you, what makes you happy and healthy, and not taking any negativity towards you, your body and mind. You exercise because you want to be fit, not skinny. You buy new clothes that you want, not because they are the new trends. You do what you want to do because you want to, not because there are people or magazines telling you to do these things even though you don’t really like doing them. Self-love is simply being true to oneself.
So yes, Pink Diamond turned into Rose Quartz and faked her own shattering because being Rose makes her happy, not because other gems pressured her into being someone she doesn’t like. She became Rose Quartz because that is who she really is. Pink Diamond did not turn into Rose Quartz. Pink Diamond turned into herself.
And that really is brave and true self-love.
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P/s: I also think it is really uplifting that this plot-twist can also be seen as referring to the transformation of transgender people. A big plus for the show that has already been showing support for the LGBTQ+ community.