It’s true. I’m not a fairytale kind of girl.
Despite a childhood filled with Disney movies, Barbie dolls and princess dresses lovingly handmade by my grandmother, I never was.
It’s not that I don’t love fairy tales, I just always knew that I wasn’t the girl they were written about.
The princess always seemed foreign to me. An imaginary, frivolous pink symbol of fragility and purity, only validated once rescued by her handsome prince.
Lost and alone without him, her only identity was the one he gave her.
Despite huge strides in women’s equal rights this misogynistic message is still found threaded into our society today. Somehow this just didn’t feel like love to me.
I was more of a “lost boy,” running barefoot through the mud with un-brushed hair, climbing trees and telling stories. I wasn’t interested in being rescued.
I wanted to be free.
I wanted to ride into battle, sword in hand, fighting injustice. I wanted an adventure, and I wasn’t willing to have it according to anyone else’s rules.
Perhaps it is not the fairy tales that are the issue, but what we have done to them as a culture and the values we have allowed to creep into them.
They are a reflection of the superficial image of love we have come to hold so dear. Disney has made a fortune selling these sterilized fantasies of true love, and television shows like The Bachelor, perpetuate this myth into real life adulthood.
But these are not images of love that fairy tales were meant to portray. Fairy tales come from centuries-old oral traditions, with the intent of instilling caution and morals into children.
If you have ever read Grimm’s Fairy Tales, you know many of these fairy tales have darker origins.
I have found that the original versions have far more value in real life.
In Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, Ariel cuts out her own tongue and trades her fins for feet. She spends her life voiceless and in pain, only to commit suicide when her beloved prince marries someone else. Despite its gruesome nature, this story has an important message for young women.
Never give up your voice and identity for a man.
In a story based in vanity, jealousy and cruelty, Cinderella’s prince was indeed dazzled by her gown and shoes, but never took the time to look at her face or ask her name. Therefore, he rode through the kingdom searching for the one whose foot fit the precious glass slipper.
Did I mention that Cinderella’s stepsisters cut pieces of their own feet off to fit in the slipper? They later had their eyes plucked out by a bird. Karma.
Sleeping Beauty was not awakened by her true love’s first kiss. Instead, she was found asleep in the woods where she was raped by the prince, only to get pregnant and give birth to twins. It was when one of the babies first sucked on her finger that she awoke from her long sleep, as a mother, a wife and a rape victim. The woods are apparently not safe by yourself.
I love to see fairy tales represented in all the gory, vicious horror that they were originally meant to be. In recent years we have seen movies like, Snow White and the Huntsman, tell a more original tale, a story which allows Snow White to be a tough warrior, rather than a helpless little girl. She even fell in love, although not with the prince.
I hope we continue to reclaim the original messages of our fairy tales, instead of allowing the fantasy to continue. I find more hope in recognizing the harsh realities of the world than in an image. We must teach our children that we cannot love another, unless we love ourselves first.
As far as Prince Charming goes, I believe that true love exists when you are ready for it.
It is not based on image but on a deep love for the other person’s spirit. My Prince is out there somewhere looking for a wild-eyed girl ready to run through the mud.
Who knows? Maybe I am a fairy tale kind of girl, after all.
Author: Jennifer Dowdy
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock