It’s possible that when you, or the current generation of little girls, read Cinderella, there was something about her that you didn’t like, even if it was only the idea of her. She’s covered in ashes, scrubbing the floor, singing – certainly not complaining or trying to do anything to get herself out of the physically and mentally abusive situation in which she’s found herself.
When the Grimm brothers wrote down fairy tales such as these, women at the time had very little rights – if any at all. Stories like Cinderella offered them hope; if they behaved and kept passive, perhaps they would be lifted from their position in society. She had to be deserving of help, whether that came from a prince, a fairy, or some other outside force beyond herself.
Marissa Meyer, author of a new version of the Cinderella story, which debuts this month, discusses this idea in an article she wrote for Tor.com, titled “From Werewolf Hunters to Rights Activists: Updating Fairy Tale Heroines”. She goes on to humorously explain why it is that today’s generation takes issue with the protagonist in Cinderella, and the call for revisions to the classic stories.
Here’s a taste of what she had to say:
Today’s teens want heroines who are courageous and empowered, who are willing to fight for what they want and choose their own destinies. And while dashing heroes continue to populate today’s fiction, the trend is leaning toward an equality between the protagonists, with skills and strengths that complement each other, and it’s perfectly acceptable for the princess to slay the dragon herself when called upon.
…While writers continue to experiment with settings, time periods, and tales both common and forgotten, this trend seems to be here to stay. Those passive girls of old are becoming extinct, being replaced with bold and plucky heroines that don’t only deserve a happy ending, but go out and claim it.
I 100% agree with her viewpoints on this. Interestingly, I found this picture on Pinterest, which highlights what Meyer discusses by way of Disney’s leading ladies throughout the years.
I think we’re seeing a surge of strong female leads coming to the forefront, whether that be in books like The Hunger Games, or in children’s movies like Tangled and the upcoming Brave. It gives me hope to know that should I have a daughter in the future, she will have strong role models to enact as she plays pretend.