Thanks to the recent release of Disney’s live-action movie, Cinderella, there’s been a resurgent popularity for the romantic fairy tale. In a February post, I mentioned my enthusiasm for the upcoming (at that time) movie and my eagerness to see it. (I’m hopeful to catch it this coming weekend.)
Unfortunately, from about the 1960s and forward, the Cinderella mythology fell out of favor because the feminist dogma unofficially rejected her as an undesirable sexist stereotype. Google “feminism and Cinderella” and numerous posts result, many of which attempt to provide a new take on this formerly discarded fairy tale heroine.
Due to the feminist backlash against Cinderella, a generation (or more) of girls grew up looking down their noses at the sweetness of this fairy tale. Little girls, especially in the six and under age group, have a natural inclination to identify as princesses … at least if they’ve been encouraged to feed and develop their fertile imaginations! But when they’ve been taught Cinderella as a negative stereotype, they learn instead to sublimate imagination.
It’s difficult for me to understand the foolishness that’s involved in quashing the imagination. (A little girl typically loves frilly dresses and shoes and glittery jewels! Furthermore, she’s often taking cues from her mama who seeks to dress nicely and fashionably; maybe she’s not wearing frilly dresses etc., but she’s probably careful and meticulous about her appearance. Why not allow her daughter to do the same?)
Reading a 2006 piece from the New York Times Magazine, I was amused by the befuddlement of the author whose young daughter dearly wanted to feel good and right about Cinderella … while the author/mother’s cues were completely negative. About halfway through the piece, the girl wants to know why her mother doesn’t like Cinderella. Mother answers: “… honey, Cinderella doesn’t really do anything.”
Is that it? Doing something (as in a “real” job … running a Fortune 500 corporation, arguing a landmark case in front of the Supreme Court, delivering babies in a major metropolitan hospital) has become the sine qua non of the correct feminist role model … and somehow, Cinderella doesn’t (and hasn’t for a long time) fit the image.
Actually, my recollection of the Cinderella fairy tale has her providing a foundational role in her household. She’s cooking and cleaning, lighting and minding the fires, and washing the clothing for her family! Granted, given these jobs have long been considered menial labor, I guess they don’t categorize as “doing something.” But who’d have done them without her? She provided an indispensable contribution to the smooth operation of their household. She was in fact doing something!
Personally, I’m glad the current generation of little girls has been gifted with this new iteration of Cinderella! I hope it serves as an impetus for cultivating their imaginations! Their lives will be much richer as a result.
Several weeks ago, in my wanderings around the internet, I stumbled upon a post on the Tweetspeak website entitled Glass Slipper Sonnets that looks to have been posted around 2011. The author sets a challenge to compose a Glass Slipper Sonnet from the viewpoint of a step-sister. Being the sonnet-lover I am, this challenge intrigued me! Naturally, I accepted the challenge.
The sonnet below also underscores my belief referenced earlier that almost every girl (yes, even ugly step-sisters) at one time or another has longed to be a princess … if only in her own imagination. What does Cinderella do? She helps us believe that all things are possible!
5 thoughts on “What Does Cinderella Do?”
Sweet! And I agree with you about little girls. Boys want to cowboys or race car drivers or firemen. Girls want to be princesses!
Thanks, Debbie. The sonnet was fun to write.
Good post! Great point about Cinderella never really “doing anything,” just the wash, the cooking, cleaning, sewing, basically running the entire household. What a dreadful message we send to ourselves, our mothers, our daughters, when we do not value the work of Cinderella.
I love the sonnet. It’s about shoes! All girls love shoes, even sensible ones.
Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I really thought it was ironic to suggest Cinderella doesn’t do anything. Wow. Glad you enjoyed the sonnet.