When I was growing up, I was a big sucker for fairy tales, and all the version I listened to or read always had a Prince Charming to save the lovely damsel in distress. There was hardly any variation in the ending… it was always a “and the beautiful princess lived happily ever after with her Prince Charming”. While that is not a bad ending, I think it just enforced the gender stereotypes on us since we were little girls. I can still see the same thing happening with my young 6 year old cousin. She demands Barbies for her birthdays (as I did), loves to dress up, and playing House is a favourite activity. And of course fairy tales with Prince Charming saving the day is a great favourite.
I catch all of the Disney fairy tales at the theatre as watching them leaves me all warm and fuzzy. I’m happy to note that the recent trend of movies have been very heart-warming and different! Love still saves the day and of course there is a happy ending… but the “True Love” is reflective of all kinds of love and not just that of Prince Charming. The princesses also look more human and imperfect and less Barbie-like.
First there was Brave – a lovely movie about a spirited girl who fights for her own hand in marriage and learns to accept and love her mother for who she is. Then came Frozen – another awesome movie on sisterly love, and one that I related to very well. The latest once was Maleficent – a movie on Sleeping Beauty being woken up by the true love of a mother, and not some random prince who looks at her for the first time.
I think it is very important to not create the gender stereotypes right from a young age, when minds are so impressionable… and the new-age fairy tales are a step in the right direction. I hope my cousin (and other little girls) get to watch these movies and grow up to be strong and secure about themselves.