A few months ago I came across an article on one of my favorite fashion and beauty blogs discussing a recently released book titled Cinderella Ate My Daughter, written by Peggy Orenstein. This book claims society has forced a squeaky clean bubblegum-pink expectation on all female juveniles, leaving them with unrealistic dreams and ideals for their own lives, and setting them up for guilt and self-loathe when they make decisions unworthy of a sparkling tiara. The reader’s comments echoed the same theme, despairing that young girls are being poisoned with the mentality that we must all be good, pink and sparkly, and this has set us up for a deep sense of failure when we measure less than perfect.
This certainly got me thinking, because I grew up with Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the whole gang as my constant companions. Could I be living with a damaged world view from this so-called “girly-girl culture,” and not even realize it? On the contrary, I believe these young women, as imaginary as they may be, played a very positive role in my most vulnerable years.
- Snow White taught me that it’s okay to work hard, even when it’s a little dusty and dirty. Even more, her cleaning endeavor was not even to benefit herself, but for those whom she believed to be children who had no one to look after them. What a sweet act of selflessness!
- Cinderella never sought out her own revenge against her wicked step-sisters, for she knew in her heart that her patience, endurance, and forgiving sweet spirit would be rewarded. It always is.
- Belle loved her sick father so much that she was willing to take his place in captivity that he might be free. Before that she stood strong against the wooings of the “it” guy.Gaston would have raised her status and popularity level in the village to incredible heights, but she did what she knew was right, and waited for true love. She also taught me that it’s okay to love books and pursue your own passions, regardless of what is considered “cool.”
- Pocahontas loved those who didn’t love her, and placed her own life in danger to save a life she knew was innocent, even if no one else believed her and her best friend turned against her.
I’m not claiming these young ladies never made mistakes. I’ll be the first to say that they did. But I think the consequences of the decisions were clearly displayed in these “tales as old as time.”
Someday, if I am blessed with a daughter, I look forward to sharing these stories with her. Am I worried that I am setting her up with unrealistic expectations? Will she be left to wonder why her Prince Charming hasn’t yet galloped in, and despise Cinderella for her fairy godmother easy-out? I suppose that is a possibility.
But as these great stories display, there is a different purpose, plan, and outcome for each individual life. All things considered, it is my sincere hope that my daughter will have role models and companions as lovely as mine. Besides, squeaky clean expectations aren’t all that bad. It sounds a lot like accountability to me.
Excuse me while I go dust off my tiara.