Princess Lessons: Don’t Dream Your Life Away

Cinderella is not my favourite princess.

There, I said it. (Don’t hate me.)

Image source: disney.wikia.com

Image source: disney.wikia.com

There’s no denying her life is hard and she must have some saint-like qualities to put up with her wicked stepmother and awful stepsisters, but – and this is my problem with her – she doesn’t do anything except dream of something better. Of course, it’s important to have dreams for your life and I hope to teach Poppet and Pixie to have big dreams, but Cinderella seems quite content to dream her life away.

Everything that occurs in the film happens to her, as if she’s not really an active force in her own life. If not for the mice and birds, she wouldn’t have a ballgown for Anastasia and Drusilla to rip to shreds.

If not for her fairy godmother, she would have stayed at home in her tattered gown and dreamed of better days.

If not for the mice (again) she would have remained locked in her room until the Duke left.

If left to her own devices, nothing in her life would have changed. I don’t want my daughters to get the idea that other people will make their dreams come true.

Poppet and Pixie have a fabulous fairy godmother who is also their hairstylist extraordinaire. (She works magic with their curls, and I won’t deny the life-changing power of a good haircut, so if you’re on the East Rand and looking for a stylist, ask for AC at Pasquale.)

However, Cinderella’s uncomplaining servant heart is a quality I’d like to foster in my little princesses. I want to teach them that serving others is not the same as being a doormat. And I’d really like them to sing happily while tidying up instead of moaning about it.

Cinderella is kind and loving, more qualities I’d like to instill in Poppet and Pixie. She looks after the animals – even Lucifer, the mean cat. She doesn’t shout; she doesn’t even raise her voice. She forgives her stepmothers and stepsisters for their cruelty to her.

So, despite her passivity, we can still learn from her. And there’s nothing wrong with dreaming – as long as that’s not all you do.

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7 Comments

  1. TW: Abuse

    I kinda agree with you. But Cinderella is my favorite princess so I must defend her. XD Seriously, a third of my blog is about her. So here goes: I think that was kind of the point. The system she was in was so oppressive and harmful that there was no way she could speak out or do anything about her situation. This story is hundreds of years old. This story comes from a time when women didn’t have a voice like they do now. Even now, that voice is stifled.

    Deep down, Cinderella is a deeply abused girl. Most movies and books present her as a generally happy, cheerful girl. But, imagine the trauma she must have gone through. Her parents die when she is young. She is ripped from her comfortable surroundings to live by the fireplace. Her entire life is taken from her. Her station, her belongings, her autonomy, etc are taken. That would traumatize anybody. Not to mention the beatings she must have received. It is really a lesson on why abused girls stay in bad relationships.

    Cinderella could have left anytime she wanted, sure. Just walk out the door and leave. But who would take care of the animals, even Lucifer? Who would take care of her father’s estate? How would she make a life for herself in a time when women had to rely on their husbands? Would she just end up a servant in someone else’s home? It literally takes an act of God to set her free. Here’s a wonderful post giving some possible reasons that Cinderella stayed. http://amethystmarie.com/2014/09/14/cinderella-whyistayed-and-whyileft/

    Now you could argue that the message is still misogynistic. It does kind of give the impression that a woman just needs to find the right man to be happy. But, still, I see a deeper level to the story. Because I don’t see the Prince as *just* a man. I see him as Jesus Christ and the Fairy Godmother as the Holy Spirit. I don’t know if you’re a believer but I’m just telling you how I see the story. Sometimes, and I would argue most of the time, it takes the power and love of God to change your identity from that of a slave/victim to that of someone who is dearly loved and cherished. The Bible says in Psalm 113 that God lifts the poor up from the ash heap and seats them with kings.

    Maybe Cinderella *was* dreaming her life away. But her identity was built on being a slave. A slave has no autonomy, no agency, no power to act on their situation. That is, until a higher power comes along to break the illusion. Maybe it’s not some ecstatic vision of God. But maybe it’s a friend, a teacher, a coworker that says, “Hey, I see something great in you.” and acts for you and with you in your situation.

    I’ve argued on my blog that the power of the Fairy Godmother wasn’t transformation from one thing to another. It was the power to reveal who you truly are. The Fairy Godmother didn’t see a slave. She saw a beloved daughter of the King, beloved bride of the Prince, a beloved princess of the people. When we get a hold of that revelation of what we truly are, we are unstoppable. In Colossians 2 and elsewhere, the Bible says that we have the fullness of God within us. What power we have! If fully realized, we could change the geography of the planet spiritually and physically. We could make women safe and loved and give them power beyond imagining whereas they would spend most nights just dreaming.

    Ok, so I realize that this is a lot longer than your actual post. I hope I didn’t read too much into what you wrote. I hope I got you thinking. As you can probably tell, I’ve thought a lot about Cinderella and how her story applies to our lives. I’d love to discuss this more with you. Thanks for reading!

  2. Pingback: Is Cinderella Feminist? | Ashley Reavis

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