Monday, November 30, 2009

What can you do to not be a victim?

I have to write a paper for my human sexuality class and I’m bothered by the phrasing of the question:

What can you do to not be a victim or bystander of sexual violence, sexual victimization, and rape? Be specific. (Chapter 17)
Obviously, I’m uncomfortable with the implication that it’s the victim’s job to make sure he or she isn’t victimized, though I don’t think my teacher meant it that way, but I’m also bothered by the fact chapter 17 doesn’t talk about this particular issue at all. (My textbook talks about most of the issues surrounding rape and debunks a lot of the common misconceptions surrounding rape and the perpetrators of rape. It also goes into detail of how to help a friend or partner recover from rape, the affects of molestation, and sexual harassment in the work place.)

Though there are definitely some things people can do in certain situations to minimize the risk of being assaulted, I guess ultimately I just feel like our teacher ignored an opportunity for us to have an open and honest conversation about the affects of rape from an individual as well as societal point of view.

And I think that's unfortunate.

Update: I was wrong - there is a section on how to reduce risk in certain situations in our textbook after all. I still think my teacher should have focused on a different part of the text though.

"We Did Not Have a Terrorist Attack on Our Country During President Bush's Term"

I know Hannity doesn't care much for the facts, but I can't believe he just let Dana Perino's comments on Bush stand.

WOW. That's a special kind of crazy right there.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I’m an American. We Don’t Have Czars in America.

I don’t want anyone who stumbles across my little corner of the internet to think that my goal is to bash republicans or conservatives here. Because even though I disagree with almost every single policy stance of the conservative party, I don’t hold anything against the people who make up that party. Deep down I think everyone is just doing what they think is right.

But if you're going to claim a position on a political matter, please please have some semblance of rational thought.

People say words like “spending,” “cap and trade,” and “cutting taxes” without really understanding what they’re saying. I feel like it’s as though they're just repeating a bunch of talking points from Rush Limbaugh and FOX News. I really wish people would learn that saying someone "loves freedom" doesn't actually mean anything. It's an empty phrase (like "pro-life") and it just makes you sound like a douche bag.

Here's another tip: If you don't actually know anything about cap and trade, don't bring up your agreement with someone else's stance on it. It doesn't make you look good.

Now lets be honest here, most people are dumb asses. Politics is a complicated multi-faceted arena and most people aren't up for the work (even I don't know nearly as much as I should). People tend to get into politically discussions and throw out random opinions when they think they don’t have to qualify their answers. Once someone sees through the fog off their bullshit and they're called on it, these people are left speechless and talking about "gotcha" questions. This is not some Palin-centric phenomenon. I can guarantee you that there are many people on both sides of the debate that vote for people just because they like them or find them charismatic.

The thing about Palin fans though, is I feel like this clueless-ness is made worse by her “folksy” persona. It's how proud they are when they admit they don't know her policies but would still vote for her.

That is just scary.

I do think one of the men in the middle of the video (the one wearing that horrible hunting camouflage outfit around 4:10) makes a surprisingly valid point actually; America isn’t the “great beacon of light” it once was considered to be. Whether or not President Obama should be blamed for that or if Sarah Palin can change that is up for debate though.

-Many thanks to Merda D'Artista for posting this video.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A fond farewell to Fairy Tale Week

I thought this was an appropriate note to end on:

"Anatomy of a Fairy Tale" by Julia Murakami:

"Bibbdi Bobbdi Boo" by Bruno Vilela:


I was planning on doing a post specific to Disney, but to be honest I’m just burnt out by this point. This week and a half has been a hard lesson in how I to plan special topic weeks in the future (and they’ll only be a week next time). Fairy Tales are just too complex and too plentiful to narrow down to a simple week of posts done in between homework.

Plus, I got to admit I’m less annoyed at the role of women in fairy tales after all the reading I’ve done. I think the original stories are actually quite empowering and I look forward to telling them to my son.

Obviously that doesn’t mean there isn’t any genuine criticism of Disney or the way they claim ownership over the stories of our ancestors. If these stories tell us something about the people who’ve come before, then Disney tells us something about us now. And I think it’s worth questioning what that message is.

By Jeff Brunner

So here is a list of posts I think are worth checking out:

Disney Princesses, Deconstructed
The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters
Racism In Disney’s Fantasia
5 Possible Problems With The Princess And The Frog
Race and Gender in “The Princess and the Frog”
Why Has It Taken So Long For Disney To Create A Black Princess?
The Disneyfication of Folklore (.pdf)

Archetypes in Fairy Tales: A Mirror of the American Ethos
Female Gender Roles in Fairy Tales

And if you just can't get enough of fairy tales I suggest checking out this blog.

And that's it. I hope you guys enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fairy Tale series by Miwa Yanagi

I thought these were awesome in a totally creepy way:

You can see more here.

Lesser Known Fairy Tales - The Princess Who Stood On Her Own Two Feet

A long time ago in a kingdom by the sea there lived a Princess tall and bright as a sunflower. Whatever the royal tutors taught her, she mastered with ease.

She could tally the royal treasure on her gold and silver abacus, and charm even the Wizard with her enchantments. In short, she had every gift but love, for in all the kingdom there was no suitable match for her.

So she played the zither and designed great tapestries and trained her finches to eat from her hand, for she had a way with animals.

Yet she was bored and lonely, as princesses often are, being a breed apart. Seeing her situation, the Wizard came to see her one day, a strange and elegant creature trotting along at his heels. The Princess clapped her hands in delight, for she loved anything odd.

"What is it?" she cried. The Wizard grimaced.

"Who knows?" he said. "It's supposed to be something enchanted. I got it through the mail."

The Royal Wizard looked a little shamefaced. It was not the first time he had been taken in by mail-order promises.

"It won't turn into anything else," he explained. "It just is what it is."

"But what is it?"

"They call it a dog," the Wizard said. "An Afghan hound."

Since in this kingdom dogs had never been seen, the Princess was quite delighted. When she brushed the silky, golden dog, she secretly thought it looked rather like her, with its thin aristocratic features and delicate nose. Actually, the Wizard had thought so too, but you can never be sure what a Princess will take as an insult.

In any case, the Princess and the dog became constant companions. It followed her on her morning rides and slept at the foot of her bed every night. When she talked, it watched her so attentively that she often thought it understood.

Still, a dog is a dog and not a Prince, and the Princess longed to marry. Often she sat at her window in the high tower, her embroidery idle in her aristocratic hands, and gazed down the road, dreaming of a handsome prince in flashing armor.

One summer day word came that the Prince of a neighboring kingdom wished to discuss an alliance. The royal maids confided that he was dashing and princely, and the Princess's heart leaped with joy. Eagerly she awaited the betrothal feast.

When the Prince entered the great banquet hall and cast his dark, romantic gaze upon her, the Princess nearly swooned in her chair. She sat shyly while everyone toasted the Prince and the golden Princess and peace forever between the two kingdoms. The dog watched quietly from its accustomed place at her feet.

After many leisurely courses, the great feast ended, and the troubadors began to play. The Prince and Princess listened to the lyrical songs honoring their love, and she let him hold her hand under the table - an act noted with triumphant approval by the King and Queen. The Princess was filled with happiness that such a man would love her.

At last the troubadors swung into a waltz, and it was time for the Prince and Princess to lead the dance. Her heart bursting with joy, the Princess rose to take his arm. But as she rose to her feet, a great shadow darkened the Prince's face, and he stared at her as if stricken.

"What is it?" she cried. But the Prince would not speak, and dashed from the hall.

continue reading...

Fairy Tale Inspired Fashion Editorials

"The Snow Queen" by Tim Walker for UK Vogue (2009):

“Beauty and the Beast” by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue (2005):

see more...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where fantasy and fact collide in fairy tales

When we want to look at something like sexism or classism in fairy tales it’s important that we keep in mind that fairy tales have changed over time and really tell us more about the people who told them (at that particular time) than the fairy tales do themselves. A good example is the story Blueberd by Charles Perrault. The heroine of this story has no option but wait for her brothers to rescue her from death and that says something about the patriarchal culture of the French court in the seventeenth century when this story was circulated. In Fitcher’s Bird, an older version of almost the same story that was recorded by the Grimm brothers, the heroine saves herself.

Even though many people are quick to claim that fairy tales are basically misogynistic, we must remember that is was mostly women who told other women these oral stories. They wouldn’t do so if they didn’t feel a connection to these stories (though obviously this doesn’t mean it can’t be sexist just because women like it).

Every book you read about the role of women in fairy tales will say that the prevalence of stepmothers in these stories is based on historic fact. In the past, women married young, bore many children, and then died young (usually in childbirth). Childbirth was no easy feat in centuries past and women could expect to give birth more than ten times. Fathers then had to remarry in order to have someone to care for the children and the house while he worked. The new wife would likely have children of her own and if there’s little to go around we can guess how family dynamics might play out. This is just the reality of the way things were.

You’ll find some people asking why Disney hates mothers and it’s important we see the difference between Disney’s need to categorize every women as either good or wicked and the prevalence of missing mothers in his stories. First, they’re not his stories and that’s a very important fact. Second, the mother has to be missing in these stories because there has to be something that prompts the child to leave the house. As I said in my previous post, the Good Mother can’t do that and therefore it’s easier to just take her out of the picture.

But why does the relationship of the father and daughter fall apart so completely in many of these stories? Well, some say it has to do with the erotic undercurrents that happen between daughter and father beginning with adolescence. In response to this awkwardness, many fathers distance themselves from their daughters as the father does in Cinderella. And unfortunately some fathers grow too affectionate like in the Donkey Girl or Thousand-furs.

From Spinning Straw into Gold by Joan Gould:

In a patriarchal story like this one, the wife, even if she’s dead, must bear the guilt for her husband’s incestuous demand. How could a father be so beastly as to want to sleep with his own daughter is his wife hadn’t forced him to that extreme by her jealous cunning that extended beyond the grave? Stories like this, which used to be common in pre-Freudian times, have nearly vanished from our bookshelves. We can tolerate fantasies about child abandonment, infanticide, even cannibalism, but not incest. That may be too close to home.

“My father was a king. The King can have sex with anyone,” wrote the poet Anne Sexton in her private notes.

If there were a lot of agricultural tasks in fairy tales because agriculture was such an important part of the peasants who told these stories and then a complete shift in fairy tales so they could rationalize the life style of the wealthy class in seventeenth century France then one cannot completely disregard the role of women in fairy tales as fodder for fantasy.

And maybe the reason women are always shown as getting married is because they didn’t have many other options. For most of our history education has been a privilege and a lot of women had few options besides getting married. If that was the reality these young girls faced then maybe we should consider a story like Beauty and the Beast was used as a way for them to come to terms with that. Maybe it helped remind them that their new husband may look and act like a beast but there could be a prince underneath. When you read fairy tales in their older forms you do not get the impression that the prince is the end-all be-all of the story (which of course Disney changed).

My problem ultimately is that we don’t have many modern stories to counter these ones. (Not to mention many people don’t even know these stories themselves which is kind of sad.) Maybe marriage was the only viable option in the past, but that’s not the way things are anymore. And yet, where are all the fairy tales that reflect that? I think fairy tales are great, but we should be balancing that with stories about Sybil Ludington, Joan of Arc, Clara Barton, or any of the other amazing women from our history.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We just need a healthy balance and I’m not sure if that’s going to be so easy with a corporation like Disney peddling dresses and crowns from every place they can.

Wow, I didn’t really have a plan when I set out writing this and I feel like I’m all over the place.

Up Next: I plan on wrapping this baby up by Friday, so expect only a few more posts.

-Picture: Book of Fairy Tales

Eugenio Recuenco Fairy Tale Shoot

I'm planning on doing a post of fashion editorials that have fairy tale themes, but I think these photos by Eugenio Recuenco are so gorgeous they deserve their own post:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Terrible Mother

This should be considered part two of my first post The Witch Must Die.

In my post The Witch Must Die, I talked about Sheldon Cashdan’s theory that the witches and evil stepmothers in fairy tales are really just projections of the bad parts of the protagonist as well as ourselves. Whether or not you agree with Cashdan’s “self theory,” the point I was trying to make is that the wicked stepmother is not just a flesh and blood person in these stories.

She is also an incarnation of the Terrible Mother.

From Spinning Straw into Gold by Joan Gould:

In most of the stories, although the girl never suspects the truth, it’s Nature as the Terrible Mother, taking the form of the wicked stepmother, witch, or thirteenth fairy, who is the agent of growth, propelling the girl out of maidenhood and forward into sexuality, which is something the Good Mother – who wants her child to remain a child forever – could never do.
It is the Terrible Mother who is an agent of growth. The Good Mother tries to keep her daughter a child by her side forever if she can, but the Terrible Mother pushes girls from adolescence into maidenhood with no regard to happiness or readiness.

Unfortunately, as all women can attest to, the heroine can’t move directly from childhood into sexuality without passing through a period of difficulty and hardship. In fairy tales that struggle often takes the guise of either work or sleep. Cinderella works while Sleeping Beauty sleeps a hundred years. Snow White does both. (The apple and the finger prick can be seen as symbolic for Snow White and Aurora gaining sexual knowledge and the sleep that follows is essentially the metaphorical time it takes them to absorb and understand that knowledge before they’re ready to “wake up” and join the word as sexual adults.)

My point ultimately, is that fairy tales are (at least in part) about the heroine’s transformation from one part of her life into another. Unlike the hero, who wants to grow more powerful and conquer things, the heroine embodies metamorphoses. And true transformation requires pain. The prince isn’t supposed to save the day like we’ve been lead to believe. He’s merely proof that the heroine is ready for love and marriage. He’s not supposed to be a flesh and blood person who occupies the heroine thoughts and saves her from the world. If anything the prince if an embodiment of the future that awaits the newly sexually liberated heroine as a mother and a wife.

But though the Terrible Mother is a catalyst for change, the women who embody her in the fairy tales is also devoid of growth herself. These wicked stepmothers and witches haven’t developed. Snow White’s stepmother can’t accept that she is getting older and her stepdaughter is more beautiful. The witch refuses to see Rapunzel as the grown sexual being she is. Though the witch propels the heroine on her journey, the witch is also fearful of that journey because growth leads to old age and death.

When we put together the two ideas that the witch represents negative aspects of the hero/heroine as well as the idea that fairy tales also explain the transformation women go through I think we get a much more nuanced and flavorful version of these old tales. Of course the problem is that most people aren’t exposed to these sorts of theories unless they go out of their way to learn them.

Instead our children are read watered down versions of stories that may not be sending the right messages. In place of the difficult transformations young girls go through in order to become women we get stories from Disney where romance is the most important thing. Instead of learning about how vanity or envy can hurt growth and destroy relationships we hear our heroines singing songs about the day their prince will come to save them from their dreary lives.

I can’t help but think of this as a great loss to our children and it makes it that much more important we embrace fairy tales in all their gruesome glory so children can learn a more complex way of looking at things.

Up next: What fairy tales tell us about women and society.

Disney World Photos

I typed "fairy tale" into flickr and all these amazing pictures by Joe Penniston came up:

click on any image to make it larger

As you can see his pictures are remarkable. (It was hard just to narrow it down to these.) Follow the link at the top to check out more of his work.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cinderella and Envy

There was once a rich man whose wife lay sick, and when she felt her end drawing near she called to her only daughter to come near her bed, and said, “Dear child, be pious and good, and God will always take care of you, and I will look down upon you from heaven, and will be with you.” And then she closed her eyes and expired. The maiden went every day to her mother’s grave and wept, and was always pious and good. When the winter came the snow covered the grave with a white covering, and when the sun came in the early spring and melted it away, the man took to himself another wife.

Cinderella is one of the oldest and most popular fairy tales out there. I remember reading somewhere that there are over 700 Cinderella stories have been documented and the story is believed to be over a thousand years old. Cat Cinderella by Giambattista Basile is the earliest written version though and it debuted in 1634. Basile began his tale by proclaiming, “Envy is ever a sea of malignancy” which sets the tone for the whole story.

Cinderella is often looked at the princess who just sits there waiting for her prince, but I have to say I don’t see it that way at all (mostly).

Basile’s Cinderella, along with Grimm’s, is a much different version than the one we’re used to and I think they have a much stronger point than the Perrault version that Disney used. These are the two I’m going to focus on the most, but you can read Perrault’s version here.

In all three of these versions of Cinderella, Cinderella’s mother is either dead already or in the process of dying in the beginning of the story. Then, as expected, Cinderella’s father re-marries and all hell breaks loose because of the new stepmother’s jealousy about Cinderella’s role in the household.

The new wife brought two daughters home with her, and they were beautiful and fair in appearance, but at heart were, black and ugly. And then began very evil times for the poor step-daughter. “Is the stupid creature to sit in the same room with us?” said they; “those who eat food must earn it. Out upon her for a kitchen-maid!” They took away her pretty dresses, and put on her an old grey kirtle, and gave her wooden shoes to wear. “Just look now at the proud princess, how she is decked out!” cried they laughing, and then they sent her into the kitchen. There she was obliged to do heavy work from morning to night, get up early in the morning, draw water, make the fires, cook, and wash. Besides that, the sisters did their utmost to torment her, mocking her, and strewing peas and lentils among the ashes, and setting her to pick them up. In the evenings, when she was quite tired out with her hard day’s work, she had no bed to lie on, but was obliged to rest on the hearth among the cinders. And as she always looked dusty and dirty, they named her Cinderella.

What I’ve always found interesting about the Cinderella story is why Cinderella decided to stay and be treated like a maid. This is the only blood kin daughter of a wealthy merchant and yet she’s forced to clean and cook all day. I mean, if Snow White can survive in the forest than surely Cinderella can as well. An interesting idea I’ve read is that Cinderella suffers because she knows she has to for her own transformation from an adolescent to a maiden. I think this has theory some validity to it and would explain why so many heroines either suffer or fall asleep during the time they’re transforming from young girls into sexual beings.

Through Cinderella’s suffering she learns strength of character that her step sisters don’t have. Cinderella is no longer reliant on her family, but her step sisters are stuck in a perpetual state of child-ness. Instead of clinging to her stepmother, as her stepsisters do, Cinderella sees the new mother figure as oppressive. It’s important to see that Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters are also a force for growth though.

It happened one day that the father went to the fair, and he asked his two step-daughters what he should bring back for them. “Fine clothes!” said one. “Pearls and jewels!” said the other. “But what will you have, Cinderella?” said he. “The first twig, father, that strikes against your hat on the way home; that is what I should like you to bring me.” So he bought for the two step-daughters fine clothes, pearls, and jewels, and on his way back, as he rode through a green lane, a hazel-twig struck against his hat; and he broke it off and carried it home with him. And when he reached home he gave to the step-daughters what they had wished for, and to Cinderella he gave the hazel-twig. She thanked him, and went to her mother’s grave, and planted this twig there, weeping so bitterly that the tears fell upon it and watered it, and it flourished and became a fine tree. Cinderella went to see it three times a day, and wept and prayed, and each time a white bird rose up from the tree, and if she uttered any wish the bird brought her whatever she had wished for.

If there’s anything I’ve learned reading fairy tales, it’s that fathers should be quite worried if their daughters ask for something alive like a branch or a rose.

Now if came to pass that the king ordained a festival that should last for three days, and to which all the beautiful young women of that country were bidden, so that the king’s son might choose a bride from among them. When the two stepdaughters heard that they too were bidden to appear, they felt very pleased, and they called Cinderella, and said, “Comb our hair, brush our shoes, and make our buckles fast, we are going to the wedding feast at the king’s castle.” Cinderella, when she heard this, could not help crying, for she too would have liked to go to the dance, and she begged her step-mother to allow her. “What, you Cinderella!” said she, “in all your dust and dirt, you want to go to the festival! you that have no dress and no shoes! you want to dance!”

When the stepsisters and the stepmother mock Cinderella about going to the ball, this is what emboldens her to find a way to go on her own. Whether or no we want to admit it, surfaces count. That is what the stepsisters show Cinderella and part of her is jealous of that. The problem though, is that the stepsisters are all surface. There is nothing going on underneath all that makeup and fancy clothes. Cinderella, on the other hand, is all soul and no surface. In defiance of her stepmother and stepsisters she finally gets that surface (i.e. the gown and slippers). Who knows what would have happened if Cinderella would have never burst into tears as the stepsister’s flounce out of the house on their way to the ball? Whether or not we like the stepsisters in this story, we have to give them credit for creating a discontent in Cinderella and propelling her transformation.

This is why I don’t think of Cinderella as a princess just waiting for her prince. Cinderella had the power to ask for a nice clothes and jewels all along, but she wasn’t ready yet. She wasn’t strong enough to ask for the things she wanted. And where did Cinderella get that power in the first place? From nourishing the tree herself. Cinderella’s power for transformation comes from herself in all but Perrault’s version. Unfortunately, as I said before, Perrault’s story is what Disney worked with and we have lost that message in the most known story today. In the Disney version, and its predecessor, transformation comes out of the blue. Cinderella has no part in it. Instead of her suffering being part of her growth and the catalyst for change (along with the stepsisters), Cinderella is shown to be happy and cheerful with her abuses. Then a fairy just appears out of nowhere and conjures up the goods (plus I like the mother element the tree adds to the story).

And as there was no one left in the house, Cinderella went to her mother’s grave, under the hazel bush, and cried,

“Little tree, little tree, shake over me,
That silver and gold may come down and cover me.”

Then the bird threw down a dress of gold and silver, and a pair of slippers embroidered with silk and silver. , And in all haste she put on the dress and went to the festival. But her step-mother and sisters did not know her, and thought she must be a foreign princess, she looked so beautiful in her golden dress. Of Cinderella they never thought at all, and supposed that she was sitting at home, arid picking the lentils out of the ashes. The King’s son came to meet her, and took her by the hand and danced with her, and he refused to stand up with any one else, so that he might not be obliged to let go her hand; and when any one came to claim it he answered, “She is my partner.”

Whether is be by fairy or a magic tree though, this is the point in the story where Cinderella transforms from and adolescent into a woman. This is the point where Cinderella can acknowledge that she is beautiful and worthy of love. (It’s also worth wondering why Cinderella would run away from the prince three times if she was just waiting to be rescued.)

Ultimately, the third time Cinderella leaves a slipper the last time she dashes away from the prince. Many people have explained how the shoe represents Cinderella’s sexuality and a glass shoe her virginity, but I’m not gonna get too much into that. The point is the prince, not knowing what else to do, decides that he will marry whoever the shoe belongs to.

And when it was evening Cinderella wanted to go home, and the prince was about to go with her, when she ran past him so quickly that he could not follow her. But he had laid a plan, and had caused all the steps to be spread with pitch, so that as she rushed down them the left shoe of the maiden remained sticking in it. The prince picked it up, and saw that it was of gold, and very small and slender. The next morning he went to the father and told him that none should be his bride save the one whose foot the golden shoe should fit. Then the two sisters were very glad, because they had pretty feet. The eldest went to her room to try on the shoe, and her mother stood by. But she could not get her great toe into it, for the shoe was too small; then her mother handed her a knife, and said, “Cut the toe off, for when you are queen you will never have to go on foot.” So the girl cut her toe off, squeezed her foot into the shoe, concealed the pain, and went down to the prince. Then he took her with him on his horse as his bride, and rode off. They had to pass by the grave, and there sat the two pigeons on the hazel bush, and cried,

“There they go, there they go!
There is blood on her shoe;
The shoe is too small,
Not the right bride at all!”

Then the prince looked at her shoe, and saw the blood flowing. And he turned his horse round and took the false bride home again, saying she was not the right one, and that the other sister must try on the shoe. So she went into her room to do so, and got her toes comfortably in, but her heel was too large. Then her mother handed her the knife, saying, “Cut a piece off your heel; when you are queen you will never have to go on foot.” So the girl cut a piece off her heel, and thrust her foot into the shoe, concealed the pain, and went down to the prince, who took his bride before him on his horse and rode off. When they passed by the hazel bush the two pigeons sat there and cried,

“There they go, there they go!
There is blood on her shoe;
The shoe is too small,
Not the right bride at all!”

Then the prince looked at her foot, and saw how the blood was flowing from the shoe, and staining the white stocking. And he turned his horse round and brought the false bride home again. “This is not the right one,” said he, “have you no other daughter?” - “No,” said the man, “only my dead wife left behind her a little stunted Cinderella; it is impossible that she can be the bride.” But the King’s son ordered her to be sent for, but the mother said, “Oh no! she is much too dirty, I could not let her be seen.” But he would have her fetched, and so Cinderella had to appear. First she washed her face and hands quite clean, and went in and curtseyed to the prince, who held out to her the golden shoe. Then she sat down on a stool, drew her foot out of the heavy wooden shoe, and slipped it into the golden one, which fitted it perfectly. And when she stood up, and the prince looked in her face, he knew again the beautiful maiden that had danced with him, and he cried, “This is the right bride!” The step-mother and the two sisters were thunderstruck, and grew pale with anger; but he put Cinderella before him on his horse and rode off.

So the prince passes the test and recognizes Cinderella even in her rags. This is also another example of the stepmother’s envy. The stepmother has no qualms about mutilating her daughters in order for them to ascend to the throne.

It’s interesting that even though people like the Cinderella story because it seems like a “rags to riches” story, during the time Perrault wrote the story social distinctions were seen as something immovable and intrinsic. Maids couldn’t become princesses. But girls from wealthy families disguised as maids could.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a Grimm story if it didn’t end on a bloody note.

And when her wedding with the prince was appointed to be held the false sisters came, hoping to curry favour, and to take part in the festivities. So as the bridal procession went to the church, the eldest walked on the right side and the younger on the left, and the pigeons picked out an eye of each of them. And as they returned the elder was on the left side and the younger on the right, and the pigeons picked out the other eye of each of them. And so they were condemned to go blind for the rest of their days because of their wickedness and falsehood.

I know I can’t be the only one who wonders why the sisters are punished instead of the mother. One theory is that it’s because the stepmother of this story has children of her own and therefore considered a true mother instead of just a wicked replacement. Another is that she didn’t actually try to kill Cinderella. Though the theme of envy isn’t so heavily handed in Cinderella as vanity is in Snow White, I think the story does do a good job of showing how jealousy can affect interpersonal relationships.

Either way, the stepsisters having their eyes pecked out is symbolic. Not only is jealousy the green eyed monster, but the stepsisters also refused to see the good that was inside Cinderella. It’s definitely fitting in a gruesome fairy tale sort of way.

Picture by Arthur Rackham and scanned from my Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Edit: I forgot to mention that Disney’s decision to turn Cinderella’s stepsisters into buffoons is another problem I have with his version. The idea that beautiful people can be ugly on the inside is a message children should be taught and I don’t understand why he decided to change it. Do we really find it so hard to dislike a pretty face?

Fairy Tales in Ads

There are so many fairy tale ads that I had to split them up into three posts (and I know there has to be tons out there still).

Book Store (Brazil):

"Great stories live forever."

Meltin'Pot clothing store (Italy):

Levi Kids (Korea):

SKY Satellite (Italy):

"Only the safest program for your kids (Thanks to the parental control button, you can check on your kids' programs)."

Rinat Levy:

“A bride like no other.”

Self tanning lotion (Germany):



Rush drinks:

"Just a little naughty."

Literact Foundation (Canada):

"When a child doesn’t read, imagination disappears."

Air freshener (Brazil):

"Every now and then your Prince Charming also goes to the bathroom."

Besame Radio (Columbia):

"Love can do anything."

Burger King (Brazil):

"It's another story."

AXE Deoderant (Germany):

Listerine (Australia):

"Put the tooth fairy out of business."

Ford (India):

“Now with height adjustable driver’s seat.”

K-Fee Coffee Drink (Germany):

Bru Cappuccino (India):

"Drink More. Flirt More."

Historic Lynchburg (Canada):

Jeep (Thialand):

"Prove it. Only in a Jeep."

Diving School (Portugal):

Jamieson Brewery (Australia):

"Anything but sweet."

Van Den Berghs Foods (Netherlands):

Evian (USA):

Melissa clothing and footwear (Brazil):

Amnesty International (Chile):

"Mom was reading me a tale, till daddy came back...
Violence against women is violation of human rights.

From the Quanto?Project: