As a parent, I have often felt quite guilty about not watching cartoons and other animated children’s programs with my daughters while they were growing up. A few were acceptable, but those based on fairy tales definitely were not. A reader recently commented here that fairy tales are often very dark and I agree, however my main objection has always been that females are portrayed as weak and submissive and their value equated with their physical beauty.
Snow White wasn’t even alive until a male came along and brought her to life with a kiss. At least I think that’s what it was about. Sometimes I take a quick look or hear a few words and then establish my emphatic opinion. I’ve recently learned that is often the wrong approach. Regardless, I am sure that black and brown little girls find it difficult to identify with Snow White.
When our daughters were small their Father watched cartoons and children’s stories with them on TV. I don’t think I ever watched even Bambi all the way through, but I remember the word “twitterpated” and was surprised when I looked it up just now and learned it did not have the sexual connotation that I had always believed.
I did not have patience with musicals either. A couple of years ago my grown-up granddaughter asked me to watch the animated movie, Frozen, with her. It was not her first time to see it and I felt she wanted to see if I’d softened up any over the years so I agreed. Perhaps it is because our family is not musically inclined but I’ve just never heard any of us break out in song. It is unnatural! The main characters, Elsa and Anna were undeniable beauties, of course.
Beauty and the Beast
Photos courtesy of Disneyclips.com
That brings me to the story Beauty and the Beast which I detested long before the smash hit Disney movie was released last year. I loathe the very name. Why would a beautiful young girl fall in love with an ugly hairy monster? Each time I heard the title I would think, “How could they in this day and age? Aren’t we even trying to encourage little girls to be strong and independent?” Of course, I have not seen the movie. Aware that it was an age-old children’s book I even felt a little superior that, as a parent, I had not read this book and others like it to my daughters.
For many years I have fantasized about writing my own children’s book and it would definitely have a different theme than those relying on beauty to determine a girl’s worth. I’ve had the title for so long that if I even begin to talk about it my granddaughters chime in with it before I can get it out.
My children’s book idea coming up in the next post! Stick around.
“Beauty and the Beast” Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmWBIxbn7Nk
6 thoughts on “Beauty”
Agree on the dark side of Fairy Tales. Looking forward to yours. Thank you.
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Interesting perspective. There are many things like this that contribute to our images of females and how we are supposed to be. I sometimes see a very pretty child and start to comment and question whether that is a good idea.
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My husband was reading lately and told me that actually some of those old fairy tales were quite different in their original form, long before even Hans Christian Anderson got hold of them. Like “Little Red Riding Hood” which was originally meant to warn young girls that there are men who come along, suave and well dressed in appearance but wolves inside, wanting to devour young girls.
As to submissive females, arrogance or belligerence in either sex is not attractive. There’s nothing wrong with being gentle, meek, willing to comply with authority — the Bible teaches this — but I do agree with you: It’s sad when physical appearance is the only basis for acceptance. Either for men or women.
It does go both ways. Almost all novels these days, in any genre, have the hero as a handsome hunk. I find that — other than in fairy tales — the female main character is allowed to be rather ordinary. But the male HAS TO be gorgeous. I’ve felt like writing a story where the characters are short, wear thick glasses, are on the flabby side, have wrinkles, faded blue eyes and maybe a scar or two. 😉
I’m eager to read your fairy tale or fable and see what your characters are like.
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Since you are disenchanted with traditional fairy tales of submissive women, you may be interested in reading Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book Women Who Run With The Wolves.
UPDATED, WITH NEW MATERIAL BY THE AUTHOR”WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES isn’t just another book. It is a gift of profound insight, wisdom, and love. An oracle from one who knows.”–Alice WalkerWithin every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species. In WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES, Dr. Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales, and stories, many from her own family, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature. Through the stories and commentaries in this remarkable book, we retrieve, examine, love, and understand the Wild Woman and hold her against our deep psyches as one who is both magic and medicine. Dr. Estés has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.”This volume reminds us that we are nature for all our sophistication, that we are still wild, and the recovery of that vitality will itself set us right in the world.”–Thomas Moore Author of Care of the Soul”I am grateful to WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES and to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. The work shows the reader how glorious it is to be daring, to be caring, and to be women. Everyone who can read should read this book.”–Maya Angelou”An inspiring book, the ‘vitamins for the soul’ [for] women who are cut off from their intuitive nature.”–San Francisco Chronicle”Stands out from the pack . . . A joy and sparkle in [the] prose . . . This book will become a bible for women interested in doing deep work. . . . It is a road map of all the pitfalls, those familiar and those horrifically unexpected, that a woman encounters on the way back to her instinctual self. Wolves . . . is a gift.”–Los Angeles Times”A mesmerizing voice . . . Dramatic storytelling she learned at the knees of her [immigrant] aunts.”–Newsweek
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Roselee, Thank you so much for this reminder. I do have that book! My husband gave it to me for my 50th birthday (at my request a few months after it was first published). I’m not sure I ever got through it all back then while so busy working, but I just pulled it out for another read. Estes did an exhaustive coverage of this topic.
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