How many of us remember the fairy tales we were told in our childhood or those that we read from books with eye catching illustrations? Most of us do!
Whenever I would watch Barbie as Rapunzel, I would ransack my cupboard to get hold of all my paints and crayons so that I could paint as Barbie did in the movie. Those fairy tales were meant to give wings to our imagination. They were a world where anything and everything was possible; where the good took over the evil and won.
But now when I look back, I don’t smile but frown because now I realise, even though they screamed of ‘goodness’ and ‘hope’ and ‘positivity’, they have failed to fight an evil that lies within themselves – the gender stereotypes. So I wonder, in reality, are these stories Fairytales or Nightmares?
Be it Cinderella, Rapunzel or Snow White, looks are important. As you start reading, you can’t help but notice the emphasis that’s given on how they look – long lustrous hair, fair skin and lips as soft as rose petals. Most of these stories have a ‘Knight in shining armour’ who comes and sweeps the Princess off her feet, thereby saving her from impending danger. Hence we have the concept of the ‘Damsel in Distress’. Also, many have a sweet, melodious voice that enables them to break into an impromptu song or nimble feet that allows them to give a twirl to their gowns or hands that paint like Picasso. When we look at these closely, we realise singing, painting and dancing are considered feminine talents. Best of all is the “happy ending”, where the Princess finally meets the Prince of her dreams and gets married to him and live happily ever after.
Fairytales can also be hard on boys, though I am not sure how many have read Rapunzel or Snow White. Most of them will dismiss it saying such stories are for girls. The men in these fairytales are usually a Prince or a Knight with an athletic and sturdy built, strong facial features and a huge list of lovers. They are always shown to be the “saviours”, but why haven’t they been shown asking for help?
At the end of the day, all this comes from media. These fairytales are centuries old but these gender stereotypes have been entrenched so deep in our society. When we fight against such stereotypes, we are actually fighting against antiquated folklores that have moulded mindsets since years. Nevertheless, I am happy because I can see a change. For instance, Disney’s Frozen. If you haven’t watched it yet, go do it and figure it out for yourself!Image 1 2 3