Once upon a time, when I found out I was having twin girls, I thought to myself, ‘They better not be into those fucking Disney princesses.’
‘Frozen’ had just been released and I managed to shield them from it for three whole years, until YouTube finally took control of their impressionable little minds and I was sucked into buying the DVD.
After one watch I was like, ‘Oh man, I’ve been a real dick. Those sisters are badass.’ The eldest one clearly has a major anxiety disorder that manifests as uncontrollable ice magic and the younger one shows exceptional leadership skills and determination to help her sister through such dark and lonely times. Not to mention they lost their parents and were pretty much exiled for most of their lives. Those gals deserve all the happily ever after they can handle.
Before ‘Frozen’, the girls and I were big into ‘Brave’ and I loved that they tried to emulate Princess Merida. Finally, here was a Disney Princess with tenacity and a fight to make her own choices and be her own person. But on closer inspection, Merida was pretty fucking privileged. A stable family life with both parents present to show her love, care and affection, giving her everything she could possibly want. And then she has the audacity to turn her Mum into a bear, almost killing them all. After that, it’s probably a good thing they lived happily ever after.
Back to YouTube though (and my point), the girls started watching fairy tales of all the classic princesses. You know, the ones we feminists hate because of the ‘saved by a man’ shit at the end. Well take a closer look and you’ll see that those chicks were no delicate snowflakes.
The story of a girl who loses her mother at a pivotal time in her life, then her mostly absentee father remarries a psychotically jealous woman who wants to see young Snow White dead. A failed assassination attempt renders our heroine homeless and desperate for food and shelter. Through her excellent negotiating skills and ability to barter, she finds herself a safe space to retreat for a while until ultimately her enemy tracks her down and poisons her into a coma. It just so happens that modern medicine in those times was a kiss from a Prince, which thankfully works a treat for Whitey.
She is finally shown care and kindness from a man with whom she feels safe and loved. The two find companionship with one another and decide to marry. Snow White deserves to live happily ever after.
Once again we see a young woman with a dead mum and an AWOL dad who remarries a fucking bitch. This time there are two bonus bitches in her life, in the form of step sisters.
These three moles then proceed to treat poor Cinderella like a slave and domestically abuse her until she’s just a joyless shell of her formerly happy-go-lucky self.
One day, her Godmother, who finally shows up to offer some help, gives Cinderella an extreme makeover and a night off to go make shapes with some other kids her age.
Music, pumpkins, rats, dancing, shots, lost shoes… Then she finally gets to meet the dude who she really connected with at the party and who actually gives a shit about her, not least because she doesn’t just see him as a cash cow like all the other chicks he meets, and they get a place together. A place where she is treated with respect, equality and love.
Cinderella deserves to live happily ever after.
Now here’s a fucked up story of a girl with a super shitty start to life.
Her dad strikes a deal with their creepy neighbour because her mum values her lettuce cravings over her first born child. Once born she is then locked in a tower for the rest of her life, unable to make contact with the outside world, let alone choose her own hairstyle.
Some dude finally suspects something fishy is going on and checks it out. The two of them get to know each other and then all hell breaks loose.
He almost plummets to his death, but fortunately is only blinded by thorns, yay! Rapunzel is left with the realisation of her shitty situation and probable muscular atrophy. Abandonment, trust and family issues out the arse!
Finally she has enough and risks her own life to escape her living hell and using the magic of love tears, heals and saves the poor dude stranded blind in the desert.
Rapunzel and her husband deserve to live happily ever after.
I asked my girls this morning if they thought princesses were brave. Their response was “Yeah, and they have cool magical powers too.” And what about princes? “Um, they just have swords, but anyone can buy a sword at the shops. Odin and Tilde (their friends) have swords.”
So before you think these brave, magical young women are teaching our girls to be ‘saved by a prince’, maybe just ask them about their own take on the fairy tale. You might just be surprised. And a little bit proud.