I did a bit of research into the origins and original versions of various fairy tales. My interest was tickled because of an episode of something I watched where someone made reference to what fairy tales used to be, before they were prettified and turned into Disney type loveliness. ( I cant remember what I was watching).
My sense of humour was teased when I read the originals… before they became easy to stomach. For example, in one of the very earliest versions of this classic story of Sleeping Beauty, published in 1634 by Giambattista Basile as Sun, Moon, and Talia, the princess does not prick her finger on a spindle. She gets a flax seed stuck under her nail. She falls down dead, and because her father, the King, can’t deal with the fact that she is dead, he places her body on his land somewhere. She isn’t really dead, she is just unconscious. But that’s not really a plus, because another king, out hunting finds her, and because he can’t get her to wake up – he rapes her and then trots off back to his own country. She, still unconscious gives birth to two children, and by freak chance one of them accidentally sucks the flax seed out from underneath her fingernail, so she wakes up. The king who raped her is already married, but he burns his wife alive so he and Talia can be together. But before that happens, the soon to be burnt wife tries to kill and eat the children.
What tickles me pink is that fact that what started off as a way more real depiction of how people think, has over centuries morphed into a sickeningly sweet and just as demented version of the truth.
I don’t have kids, but a few of my friends do, and I watch their little girls dressing as princesses, and the thought always crosses my mind: It’s fairy tale princess now, and later is the grown up chick flicks. It’s the instilled idea that women are the weaker, fairer sex, and that we should hope to be rescued by a man. But not just any man. One who is essentially the jock of the stereotypes? A man who isn’t too smart, but has serious abs and some wicked biceps. The ‘knight in shining armour’.
Then you get the romance movies. The man always ends up falling over himself running through an airport or train station or after a taxi having suddenly realised that he is in love. He calls her name, she turns, fakes a dismayed lack of interest and then swoons, and they kiss and it’s all happily ever after. Really?
Right. Before I am inundated with mail telling me I am void of hope or any sense of beauty in romance – hear my argument. I do know a few people who had the whole cinematic over dramatic climactic ‘OH! I LOVE YOU TOO!!’ type moments, after some song and dance and trying to figure shit out. But I know a LOT more women who are GENUINELY confused when a man doesn’t burst into song and chase her when she plays hard to get.
If I was a parent of a girl, this would be my advice to a daughter:
Dear Female Wildling,
My darling. You are not a princess. You are a warrior, which is unfortunate for any smart ass male that enters your world – but you will not behave like a princess, because you will then be treated like one. Princesses are by definition, and reputation, more likely to get their pretty pink dress snagged on a thorny bush while trying to run away in stilettos because you cant run in stilettos. You could stab someone with them, but if you are a princess, that won’t occur to you, You will likely be running from some idiot who thinks that your pretty pink lipstick was an invite of some kind for him to get into your pretty pink dress.
Mommy may be a bit jaded. But I am still your mother. So what I say is law.
You will be a warrior and break his nose. Not run screaming while your waterproof mascara makes you look like Marilyn Manson.
You will be intelligent about the world around you, before you worry about what the world around you thinks. You will be a warrior. You can be beautiful and intelligent and have autonomy and confidence without the approval of others. Without the lipstick and the high heels. Without the designer clothes and the muscle clad walking testicle hooked on your arm.
A warrior has a plan. Has expectations, and most of all know how to sucker punch someone ninja style in the throat. A warrior is also able to go on a first date and NOT have to remove any clothing to be accepted. She does not need to be rescued. She is not weak or unsure.
If a man comes along who is a beautiful soul, you will see him. Not dismiss him because you can’t see past your false eyelashes. You will recognise kind people. You will love without restraint because it is safe to do so. But you will still be a warrior. A warrior who invites another to share in your world. Another who will appreciate your independence and strength. Another who will make you feel like HIS princess.
Now, if you decide you like girls, you will not date a princess. Because then you will have to treat her like one, and to be quite frank, I will be the worst in-law ever. Like ever.
If you fail in any of these aspects, I will take over and likely end up in jail.
It feels weird typing the word ‘mom’.
So yes. For what it’s worth. I don’t understand why they changed the fairy tales. Disney, mainly. Marvel is a different story. The Black Widow, cat Woman… deadly and still beautifully feminine.