Yes, this is the bah-humbug column where I tell you how much I’m struggling with Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and all the other pathetic, insipid, malnourished Princess types who have taken up residence all over my house.
They’re in doll-form, storybooks, DVDs, the dress-up box and most worryingly, they’re in my four year old daughter’s head. All of them. All the time.
The Princess Thing crept into our life insidiously and without warning. One day it was all the harmless innocence of Winnie The Pooh and Dora The Explorer and the next, we were drowning in a pink sea of Really Bad Messages. Stop rolling your eyes and muttering “but they’re just STORIES”. I’m serious.
And this is why. Pretty much every mainstream fairy tale goes like this: skinny girl gets herself into perilous situation and is desperately unhappy or almost dead before being rescued and redeemed by a handsome prince. There is a wedding and then there is happily ever after.
I know you’ll be surprised to hear I have a problem with this blueprint for life. Why don’t any of the female characters in fairy tales have jobs? Or skills? Or even hobbies? Where are their friends? Why are the ‘good’ characters always described as beautiful and handsome while the ‘bad’ characters are always ugly? Why are all stepparents and stepsiblings evil? Why does every woman have to be rescued by a Prince? Why can’t they rescue themselves? And why does a happy ending depend on a wedding? WHY?
In other words, why doesn’t Cinderella go do a TAFE course to learn a trade other than cleaning, move out of home and have some therapy to deal with her dysfunctional childhood instead of being such a victim and waiting around for a fairy godmother and a prince to rock up and save her with a wand and a wedding?
Not only does this nonsense place unreasonable expectations on men but also on godmothers. And weddings. Think about it.
It’s not just the fairy tale messages that horrify me but also the package they’re wrapped in. Have you taken a close look at animated female characters like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Tinkerbell? They are the perfect shape for little girls to aspire to so long as you don’t require any room for pesky things like internal organs or ribs. Oh yes. The Princesses make the models in fashion magazines look morbidly obese.