March 2, 2011

Re-thinking Fairytales

My favorite tumblr account is Fosterhood. She blogs about the ins and outs of being a foster parent in NYC. Recently, her foster child (referred to under the pseudonymn Jacket for her safety) was asking for a bed time story and she wanted it to feature a Princess. So, she told her this story:
“Once upon a time there was a very inquisitive princess who loved plants. She wanted to be a botany researcher so when she went to school she listened to her teacher, finished her homework and did extra reading for fun. She worked so hard that she was accepted to a good college where she majored in biology. She then went to a different school and earned a master’s degree in molecular genetics. Afterward she was offered an awesome job working at a nature conservancy where she played with plants all day long. The End.” (fosterhood) 
Which got me to thinking of how as a society we need to re-think our fairy-tales, because Disney princesses aren't cutting it. Our girls need stories about strong, independent women who have worked hard and passionately for what they value. Stories of women who are comfortable in their singleness. Stories about lesbian, bi, and transgendered women.

All societies and cultures have some form of beginning story or creation story to help illustrate their history or to help explain how they got to this point. The stories often help express in imagery and myth the reasoning behind their values and beliefs. For example, Christians have the creation story of Adam and Eve. A predominant piece of the Genesis story is the creation of Original Sin, thanks to women, namely Eve. So, women start off as irresponsible, weak, tricky, etc. etc. etc. The stories that get told to children are so important in helping them to understand their place and roles in society. They need strong role models, instead of weak women who rely on men, especially Prince Charming.  

My favorite Disney Princesses were Mulan and Pocahontas; honestly, I thought Cinderella and Snow White were boring. I did admire Belle's fondness for books. While, Mulan and Pocahontas's stories are about strong, independent women, who sometimes challenge their patriarchal figures, they all end with a happy union to a man. Would Pocahontas (the movie) have been as interesting if it was expressed as it truly happened? Does it make the action any less significant coming from a 10 year old, as opposed to a 20 year old woman in love? Disney's latest Princess, from the Princess and the Frog, revolves around a young woman from New Orleans who's attempting to pursue her dreams of opening her own restaurant. She's worked two jobs tirelessly in order to save enough money. She does end up getting the restaurant that she always wanted - after marrying the prince (although she does pay with her own money).

(They all end in a kiss:

I've also been realizing that there aren't many females heroes glorified in history or in our American legends. In Social Welfare, we talked about American Tall Tales as a representation of American values: Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, and John Henry to name a few. Who was missing? Women. What values do they represent? Strength, masculinity, self-reliance, etc. etc. etc. ALL of which are associated with men and NOT women.

So, Feminists, it's time to re-think our fairy-tales and write them anew. This month, when I have time amidst the crazy, I'm going to post my ideas of what our stories should look like. Some women have already blazed a trail leaving magnificent legacies in their wake. So, I'll be posting my own personal heroes and inspiring stories. I invite you to do the same or write your own! What do you think young girls should hear? What does the new fairy-tale look like?

Happy March, lovelies. It's gonna be great.

<3 K


  1. Thanks for a great post!
    Wow, this was just what I've been thinking myself, too. I just watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame last weekend and I have to give some credit to that movie! Esmeralda is an independent woman who fights against the unjust society... She's a real rebel :)
    I'm finnish and even thought I've studied American history I don't know any female heroes from USA... Not to mention finnish ones! I've never heard about them.
    I love your blog, keep on going with that positive attitude! That gives strength to other people, me included.

  2. Oh, yeah, Esmeralda was hardcore. I loved Belle because she was smart =) But yeah, it's not good to sit around waiting for prince charming =p


  3. True! I'm sure real life's prince charmings prefer strong and smart women more than helpless bimbos :D

  4. I love this! Thank you for posting this Katie! I agree with you. I hate how the message of needing that prince charming is so often shoved down our throats. I think I even sometimes struggle with the idea of that notion. I wish we could change that to living the life you are made to live on your own with only the help of God.

    I may just write my own blog post about an inspiring lady (if I can think of a hilarious one for drawings haha).

    P.S. Pocahontas was my favorite too. And I am going to read your big book of fun and journey to Burma someday.