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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cinderella's no Villain



© Disney

Somewhere along the way, I think the story has been rewritten.  I’m guilty of it too.  I remember being a sanctimonious college student, all up on my feminist haunches.  “Cinderella Ruined my Life” was the title of an article I once wrote for my school newspaper.  I wish I still had a copy of that article…maybe.  Though I’d probably cringe through the whole thing.  Cindy gets a bad rap for being this girl who waits to be saved by some guy.  But that really isn’t the story at all!  Now don’t go getting your undies in a wad!  Just like the bra–burning epidemic of the 70’s, sometimes it’s all about perspective.

“She believed in dreams, all right, but she also believed in doing something about them. When Prince Charming didn’t come along, she went over to the palace and got him.” –Walt Disney

You have to think about the time that this story was produced.  I’m not going to get into a history lesson and go back to the original Cinderella story…just the Disney version will be sufficient.  The movie Cinderella was released in 1950:  The golden era of the housewife.  It was a universally feminine ideal to marry well and have an elegant home.  I imagine this story appealed to an abundance of girls.

As time has gone on, what we as a society have failed to take notice of is the primary idea behind the story line.  Cinderella was in a horrible situation, one that seemed impossible to get out of, and ultimately it was her own determination that propelled her release to a better life!  Sure, she needed a little boost in the confidence department- who doesn’t from time to time?  So she had a smidgeon of help with fashion. Let’s face it, if you wear rags and fireplace ash, you will not feel particularly outgoing.  Sometimes it takes seeing yourself look really spectacular on the outside for you to be able to recognize just how spectacular you already are on the inside.  Cinderella just had the fairytale version of What Not to Wear before she felt able to face that ball!  Or maybe Stacy and Clinton are essentially modern day Fairy Godmothers?  Seriously though, who doesn’t feel fierce in a great pair of shoes?

At any rate, she saw her opportunity and she grabbed it, despite great risk.  If that isn’t a strong woman, then I don’t know what is.  Besides, who doesn’t adore a true love story?  Any decent Mr. Charming would give his love a hand when she is in a pickle...and vice versa, I might add!  That doesn't mean she was rescued.  Men aren't saviors and magic isn't as readily available as it should be.  In the end, she used her strengths- kindness to all, class, determination, belief in her own dreams- then she went and became that princess!

So watch the movie with your daughters (and sons)!  It's a classic, sweet love story.  Just point out the all the ways the soon-to-be princess rescues herself.

Some things should be reconsidered.  Like bra burning, for example.  The older I get the more I realize that “feminism” should include feminine!  I am a woman who has great appreciation for things like appropriate under garments, men holding doors, killing bugs, taking out the garbage…  But you better believe, that if I want something, I have no problem going over to castle and getting it!  Thank you, Cindy, for showing me how!
XO, Ami

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