The stories we were read as children have a huge impact on how we view the world. In some cases they can teach us that we should not be too quick to judge or that lying and theft are undesirable activities. In other cases they go a long way towards making our world views unrealistic. The story of Cinderella falls squarely into the latter category for the following reasons:
Almost every variation of this story is very clear about the fact that the main character is both beautiful and kind while her step sisters are both unattractive and wicked. It is almost implied that they are as unattractive as they are as a punishment for being cruel. Children who subconsciously absorb this mindset are done a disservice for two main reasons. They may be more likely to shun people who do not fit into their concept of attractiveness and they may be less likely to notice the bad intentions of someone who is attractive. Most serious killers have been noted to be good looking.
Cinderella shows a reliance on others to extract her from her terrible situation. First the fairy godmother is needed to get her to the ball. Then the prince is meant to fall madly in love with her and marry her so that she can live with him. What would she have done if she had no fairy god-mother or if there were a more beautiful girl at the ball who had just as many attributes that the prince could be smitten by? This encourages young women to see power as external.
When one stops to consider that the prince could not recognize the woman he claimed to be in love with if not for her missing footwear, it becomes apparent how little he knew of her. He was oblivious to her hopes and dreams, her bad habits and her favorite things. None of those could be learned in a single night. The reverse is true. All she saw was a title, wealth and the power to take her away from her abusive home. It is dangerous to call what they shared ‘love’.
In defense of fairy tails, they are meant to convey simple messages to children. The problem arises when all the wrong ones are learned and society suffers.
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