So long snow white and don’t come back!
There’s a custom at my daughter’s daycare where each Friday the children choose a book from the library and take it home for the weekend.
Last Friday my little girl came back home so excited, she couldn’t wait to take out the book she chose and show it to me, it was “snow-white”!
Before we set down to read it together I quickly went over it to see which version it was. I was so shocked from I saw, that I told my girls to “read” out the story as they think it is from the drawings in the book, thus evading from reading the true content.
It’s not that the story wasn’t fit for kids, on the contrary, it was much like the Disney film version, but that’s exactly where my problem was.
The early animated Disney films were horrific to say the least. It’s true that as a young girl, for me, they were my entire world but that was only because there was nothing else more fitting. I’m talking about real violence hiding beneath sweet, round, innocent looking animations.
There will be those who would disagree with me but, personally I don’t have any problem with today’s animated films, with all their violence. At least they don’t hide behind it and in most cases the actual violence is pretty funny too.
Not only that the ideas behind the cartoons were sick, but the worse things about them were the messages they implanted in the back of our minds.
But let’s put aside the horrible things I would have loved to do to Walt Disney and get back to the original stories.
Snow-white was written by the Brothers Grimm back in the 19th century.
Sleeping Beauty was written by the French author Charles Perrault somewhere around the 17th century. He was the same man who wrote Cinderella and Little red Riding hood.
Those are all stories that were written and published before the 20th century!! In a world where women were known as weak and fainting, and the men were strong and always saving the damsels in distress. Those were times when women were inferior to men, they didn’t have the right to vote, and let’s not even mention the idea of a career for a woman. The women’s place was at home, raising children, and always “be beautiful and stay quiet”.
Women back then were known as fragile victims and this message is very clear when you read those stories even today. I was sickened just by the idea that my girls were getting half that message to their brains, so I chose not to read it to them anymore and never to show those early Disney films as well.
As a girl who spent the first decade of her life obsessed with those films and characters, it later on created an extreme opposite effect on me: in the early 90’s, with the beginning of my teenage years, new TV shows came out – “Zina the warrior princess” and “Buffy the vampire slayer”. I threw away all my Barbie toys, got a stake and went out looking for all the chauvinist vampires who ruled the world back then.
You see, I grew up with two older brothers so I was mostly influenced by their worlds which included motorbikes, martial arts, football, monster trucks and everything else they told me that only boys like.
My parents thought I was too masculine but I wanted to show everyone that girls can do anything that boys can. The more criticism I got, the more extreme I became.
It took me 10 years since then to balance back my Estrogen levels, but I never stopped liking all those things.
Today, as a mother of two very young girls, I teach them that women are just as strong as men if not even stronger. I emphasize how important their voice is, how crucial it is for them to take responsibility over their lives.
Today, if a girl likes bikes, karate and soccer, not only she will not be perceived less feminine but she will probably be quite fascinating as well.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, someone in Disney’s studios also understood that times have changed and princesses like Rapunzel and Merida (“Brave”) were re-born, using skills as wisdom, resourcefulness and wit to help them save themselves.
The highlight so far was with the success of film “Frozen”. Queen Elsa quickly became a role model who showed all the delicate princesses before her how it’s done. The movie mocks the “true love” cliché by showing us that it was the true love of the two sisters which eventually saved the day and not a true love’s kiss from a prince.
Since than the movie “Wonder woman” was released and created a new symbol of the feminine revolution around the world. In this film it is wonderfully shown how a woman can be strong and still stay caring and feminine.
To my delight, my girls are big fans of Elsa and Wonder Woman.
To my greater delight, after explaining to them my reasons for not reading “Snow white” ever again, they put it aside and asked to watch “Frozen” instead…
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