Confession: I love fairytales (except Peter Pan...). Well, maybe this isn't so much a confession as it is a reaffirmation, which usually comes around this time every year. We greeted waves and waves of trick-or-treaters last night as they scoured our neighborhood in the hopes of filling up their bags and buckets with sugary treats. There were policemen and little ones sitting timidly on their father's shoulders. And of course, there were princesses in pink, puffy dresses. Some even carried magic wands, too. I got to thinking about where our love of fairytales begins -- how early? Why? What lessons do they offer? A few years ago, I interviewed Theresa Rose, author of Opening the Kimono: A Woman’s Intimate Journey Through Life’s Biggest Challenges, on this very subject and thought it would be fun to dive into the world of fairytales today, friends...
Why have these fairytales transcended time and remained relevant even in 2009?
Despite how totally unrealistic and even harmful these stories are, little girls (and big girls) everywhere are drawn to them like moths to a flame. There is something so appealing about imagining oneself as the prettiest, most sought-after girl in the room. We get to wear fancy clothes, have men fight dragons for us and essentially have no responsibility whatsoever for our own happiness. When shown through that prism, becoming Snow White sounds pretty good to me too. It's the same base desire that had women flocking to the theaters to see Sex and the City.
How can women use these stories to benefit their own lives?
I believe the biggest benefit from these stories is to show women where they learned patterns of victim hood and unreasonable fixations on appearance. Women should look at challenges in their lives and ask, "What Wouldn't Snow White Do?" We can be our own heroes instead of waiting for a man to save us. Although, I must admit that Cinderella reminds us of the power of wearing a killer pair of heels.
Who are the best heroines and why?
The best fairytale heroines are Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Fiona from the Shrek series. Belle taught us that reading is cool, and what is on the inside of someone is more important than what's on the outside. Fiona taught us that you can get the love of your dreams and still have terrible skin, a barrel for a belly, a bulbous nose and freaky ears. She is responsible for her happiness, sticks up to her man when called for and chooses her own destiny over what other people think. Fiona ROCKS!
What's your favorite fairytale, friends? Which ones did you love reading as a child and why? What lessons did you learn from them? Do these lessons still hold true in adulthood? xoxo
P.S. And I love what Los Angeles-based therapist Dr. Nancy Irwin had to say: The Prince may not be on a white horse; he may drive a Ford pick-up.” :)
[Photos via We Heart It]