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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cinderella Should Have Saved Herself

business card.JPGBy Tracee Sioux

Our daughters are inundated with Cinderella and her friends. Young girls love Cinderella and want to be her.

For several years I allowed the Cinderella obsession to run rampant. I allowed the dress up clothes, books, movies, birthday party themes, posters, sticker and coloring books, flash cards, and on and on. There seemed to be no end in sight. It was completely against my gut instinct. When I read Ainsley the books or watched the movies I would cringe inside, my gut kept telling me – this is so unempowering.

When she was four I realized these things do not resolve themselves and the message that she needs “saving” is going to have negative consequences for her life. It will especially effect her love life and her ability to be happily alone or independent.

I told her the truth about Cinderella and banned most paraphernelia. If you critically deconstruct this fairytale there is nothing harmless about it. It is probably harmless as a simple story, but the degree to which it is marketed to young girls makes it a huge influence in their lives.

Have you ever talked to a young woman, newly engaged and planning her storybook wedding? You realize she’s living her Cinderella fantasy and she truly believes something magical is happening and expects to live happily ever after? When I meet these girls I always feel terribly sympathetic for the truths she will discover in about a year. Wouldn’t it be kinder to our daughters if we told them the truth about love and marriage and “the prince.” Wouldn’t it be more empowering if their expectations were in line with reality?

So, I told my daughter first that Cinderella didn’t need saving. She could have saved herself. At least in today’s practical world, the one my daughter relates to, Cinderella had options. She could have graduated from high school and gone off to college. She could have gotten a medical or law degree. She could have left her stepmother’s home, achieved an education, then a job. Had she done that she would would have no need for her stepmother’s money.

Cinderella also made a giant mistake by attempting to find happily ever after in another person. What she could have done is learned how to make herself happy first. She could have found hobbies and had friends and pursued something.She shouldn’t have wasted her life waiting.

On a practical note, Cinderella hated her life because she had to do all the housework. So she became a wife!

Stupid, stupid, stupid. How many women out there got married and then realized how much housework is involved in raising a family? I certainly do a lot of housework as a wife. Most wives I know do most of the housework. If my daughter gets married and expecting to do no housework she’ll be severely disappointed.

I’m married. Every married woman knows one basic truth – it’s a lot more work than we were told. I think it’s a valid and wonderful institution, but it’s no quick easy way to happily ever after. My daughter deserves to know that. It’s also not the only way for women to find happiness.

I’m no lawyer, but depending on the state she lived in she could have just sued her stepmother for her inheritance. I know in Texas the estate is split between the children and the wife if there is no will.

Cinderella is a terrible example of an empowered girl. But, she can be used as a good teaching tool. We can point out what she did wrong. We can also offer great alternatives like college and careers and encourage girls to find their own true selves. I think we owe them that.

For better ideas about love and self to give our daughters try these two books, Princess Bubble where she'll learn she can save herself and missing piece meets big o where she'll learn she is whole and complete already.

14 comments:

Joanne said...

Hi Tracee,
Great point of view.

I used to be a cinderella myself, I was always the one waiting at home. Wait for him to comes home, wait until he has more time then we can go do more things together, wait until he has earned enough so that we can go for our belated honey moon, wait for one day if we can get a baby sitter who can helps at night time so that we can go out together sometime, wait until one day my children are big enough so that ...

And you know what? all that did not happen but what I received from my waiting is a divorce paper!

I'll sure take the opportunity to educate my daugther, and my son, wait no more but stand up to save themselves.

Thanks Tracee.

Joanne

So Sioux Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
So Sioux Me said...

Joanne,

I'm glad you are done waiting! I'm glad you're teaching your kids to go out and make a life rather than waiting for one to happen to you.

Good for you Joanne.

Tracee

Anonymous said...

Tracee~
As a former cinderella, thanks for reminding me that I don't need saving. After years of being told that I needed a man, it feels good to be able to make it on my own. Although I am a single mother, I only wait upon the Lord not a husband.

So Sioux Me said...

Anonymous,

Good for you. You are whole and complete in yourself. Find a new life not a new man. In my experience we keep finding the same man until we learn that we are whole within ourselves.

Tracee

Lydia said...

Tracee,
I loved finding your blog - couldn't agree more. I am searching the web for movies that show positive images of women and girls to balance out all of the "princess" stuff my 3.5 and 1.5 year old girls are exposed to. Do you have any ideas?
Thanks!
Lydia

Tracee said...

Lydia, welcome and please bookmark and return.

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media exists because you're not the only mother having this problem with the way women and girls are portrayed in films.

You'll have to make your own boundaries. I threw out most of our Princess stuff Disney Princess films once or twice probably won't damage them - but those films over and over and over watching movies and adding the consumer paraphernelia is damaging girls' core selves, in my opinion.

Certainly, I felt if my daughter only wanted to play "Kiss Me, Save Me Prince," we needed to address the problem.

Some parents don't restrict the exposure to the Princess stuff - but they amp up the communication with their daughters about what choices the Princesses make and help their daughters get a better message from them.

I love Princess Bubble, but it's a book, not yet a movie.

I have let her watch most Disney movies - as a rental.

Little Women started a great conversation about how far women have come.

The Last Mimzi has a lead girl character who saves the entire species.

Please come back and visit often!

that girl said...

I love theses Disney references. You've got such a niche here.

Yaya said...

All of those 'fairy tales' are such a horrible message for young girls.

This pic is adorable!!!

Lynnie said...

SO FAR (and I know this may change as my four year old goes to a traditional preschool for the first time and gets exposed to more) my daughters have escaped the princess culture. We don't own any Disney Princess anything, nothing, no movies, no backpacks, no shirts, no shoes. We read empowering books. We've been lucky so far because they have no idea it's out there.

So, this really super cool thing happened a few days ago. I was playing an old 80s mix and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" came on. My daughter said "I don't like this song! It's a rude song!" I asked why. "Because it says girls just want to have fun, but girls can be interested in things, too!"

My mouth dropped. I always wonder if my efforts are just in vain. Here's proof that they're not! I will have to write more about this in my own blog shortly because it's something I do think about a lot as the mother of two girls.

Anonymous said...

I fell for the Cinderella fantasy and regret it a lot today

Of course if i had my time over i would have stood up to my mom and worn pants to my prom not a fluffy old fashioned dress - i was a coward

Carol Saha said...

Have you seen Ever After with Drew Barrymore? It was excellent. She ends up with the Prince but he comes and finds her when she's in the middle of freeing herself from the bad guy her stepmother sold her to. I think you would like it.
Carol

Lisa said...

Yeah. Totally true. It took me until I was 40 (last year) to finally wake up to this truth. I'm the only one who can save my own life!

It's been a huge dose of empowerment - with frequent moments of confusion, fear, and doubt mixed in - ever since!

Thanks for your most valuable blog and overall mission. :-)

Tracee said...

I'm so happy for you Lisa.

Yes, I've seen that Carol. I too loved Drew's character.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cinderella Should Have Saved Herself

business card.JPGBy Tracee Sioux

Our daughters are inundated with Cinderella and her friends. Young girls love Cinderella and want to be her.

For several years I allowed the Cinderella obsession to run rampant. I allowed the dress up clothes, books, movies, birthday party themes, posters, sticker and coloring books, flash cards, and on and on. There seemed to be no end in sight. It was completely against my gut instinct. When I read Ainsley the books or watched the movies I would cringe inside, my gut kept telling me – this is so unempowering.

When she was four I realized these things do not resolve themselves and the message that she needs “saving” is going to have negative consequences for her life. It will especially effect her love life and her ability to be happily alone or independent.

I told her the truth about Cinderella and banned most paraphernelia. If you critically deconstruct this fairytale there is nothing harmless about it. It is probably harmless as a simple story, but the degree to which it is marketed to young girls makes it a huge influence in their lives.

Have you ever talked to a young woman, newly engaged and planning her storybook wedding? You realize she’s living her Cinderella fantasy and she truly believes something magical is happening and expects to live happily ever after? When I meet these girls I always feel terribly sympathetic for the truths she will discover in about a year. Wouldn’t it be kinder to our daughters if we told them the truth about love and marriage and “the prince.” Wouldn’t it be more empowering if their expectations were in line with reality?

So, I told my daughter first that Cinderella didn’t need saving. She could have saved herself. At least in today’s practical world, the one my daughter relates to, Cinderella had options. She could have graduated from high school and gone off to college. She could have gotten a medical or law degree. She could have left her stepmother’s home, achieved an education, then a job. Had she done that she would would have no need for her stepmother’s money.

Cinderella also made a giant mistake by attempting to find happily ever after in another person. What she could have done is learned how to make herself happy first. She could have found hobbies and had friends and pursued something.She shouldn’t have wasted her life waiting.

On a practical note, Cinderella hated her life because she had to do all the housework. So she became a wife!

Stupid, stupid, stupid. How many women out there got married and then realized how much housework is involved in raising a family? I certainly do a lot of housework as a wife. Most wives I know do most of the housework. If my daughter gets married and expecting to do no housework she’ll be severely disappointed.

I’m married. Every married woman knows one basic truth – it’s a lot more work than we were told. I think it’s a valid and wonderful institution, but it’s no quick easy way to happily ever after. My daughter deserves to know that. It’s also not the only way for women to find happiness.

I’m no lawyer, but depending on the state she lived in she could have just sued her stepmother for her inheritance. I know in Texas the estate is split between the children and the wife if there is no will.

Cinderella is a terrible example of an empowered girl. But, she can be used as a good teaching tool. We can point out what she did wrong. We can also offer great alternatives like college and careers and encourage girls to find their own true selves. I think we owe them that.

For better ideas about love and self to give our daughters try these two books, Princess Bubble where she'll learn she can save herself and missing piece meets big o where she'll learn she is whole and complete already.

14 comments:

Joanne said...

Hi Tracee,
Great point of view.

I used to be a cinderella myself, I was always the one waiting at home. Wait for him to comes home, wait until he has more time then we can go do more things together, wait until he has earned enough so that we can go for our belated honey moon, wait for one day if we can get a baby sitter who can helps at night time so that we can go out together sometime, wait until one day my children are big enough so that ...

And you know what? all that did not happen but what I received from my waiting is a divorce paper!

I'll sure take the opportunity to educate my daugther, and my son, wait no more but stand up to save themselves.

Thanks Tracee.

Joanne

So Sioux Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
So Sioux Me said...

Joanne,

I'm glad you are done waiting! I'm glad you're teaching your kids to go out and make a life rather than waiting for one to happen to you.

Good for you Joanne.

Tracee

Anonymous said...

Tracee~
As a former cinderella, thanks for reminding me that I don't need saving. After years of being told that I needed a man, it feels good to be able to make it on my own. Although I am a single mother, I only wait upon the Lord not a husband.

So Sioux Me said...

Anonymous,

Good for you. You are whole and complete in yourself. Find a new life not a new man. In my experience we keep finding the same man until we learn that we are whole within ourselves.

Tracee

Lydia said...

Tracee,
I loved finding your blog - couldn't agree more. I am searching the web for movies that show positive images of women and girls to balance out all of the "princess" stuff my 3.5 and 1.5 year old girls are exposed to. Do you have any ideas?
Thanks!
Lydia

Tracee said...

Lydia, welcome and please bookmark and return.

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media exists because you're not the only mother having this problem with the way women and girls are portrayed in films.

You'll have to make your own boundaries. I threw out most of our Princess stuff Disney Princess films once or twice probably won't damage them - but those films over and over and over watching movies and adding the consumer paraphernelia is damaging girls' core selves, in my opinion.

Certainly, I felt if my daughter only wanted to play "Kiss Me, Save Me Prince," we needed to address the problem.

Some parents don't restrict the exposure to the Princess stuff - but they amp up the communication with their daughters about what choices the Princesses make and help their daughters get a better message from them.

I love Princess Bubble, but it's a book, not yet a movie.

I have let her watch most Disney movies - as a rental.

Little Women started a great conversation about how far women have come.

The Last Mimzi has a lead girl character who saves the entire species.

Please come back and visit often!

that girl said...

I love theses Disney references. You've got such a niche here.

Yaya said...

All of those 'fairy tales' are such a horrible message for young girls.

This pic is adorable!!!

Lynnie said...

SO FAR (and I know this may change as my four year old goes to a traditional preschool for the first time and gets exposed to more) my daughters have escaped the princess culture. We don't own any Disney Princess anything, nothing, no movies, no backpacks, no shirts, no shoes. We read empowering books. We've been lucky so far because they have no idea it's out there.

So, this really super cool thing happened a few days ago. I was playing an old 80s mix and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" came on. My daughter said "I don't like this song! It's a rude song!" I asked why. "Because it says girls just want to have fun, but girls can be interested in things, too!"

My mouth dropped. I always wonder if my efforts are just in vain. Here's proof that they're not! I will have to write more about this in my own blog shortly because it's something I do think about a lot as the mother of two girls.

Anonymous said...

I fell for the Cinderella fantasy and regret it a lot today

Of course if i had my time over i would have stood up to my mom and worn pants to my prom not a fluffy old fashioned dress - i was a coward

Carol Saha said...

Have you seen Ever After with Drew Barrymore? It was excellent. She ends up with the Prince but he comes and finds her when she's in the middle of freeing herself from the bad guy her stepmother sold her to. I think you would like it.
Carol

Lisa said...

Yeah. Totally true. It took me until I was 40 (last year) to finally wake up to this truth. I'm the only one who can save my own life!

It's been a huge dose of empowerment - with frequent moments of confusion, fear, and doubt mixed in - ever since!

Thanks for your most valuable blog and overall mission. :-)

Tracee said...

I'm so happy for you Lisa.

Yes, I've seen that Carol. I too loved Drew's character.