The first time I saw this internet image was three or four years ago. Over the years it has been sent to me many times. I suppose people know I would enjoy it and maybe this is my future fairy tale.
A fairy tale is described as being idyllic, extremely happy, and what essentially someone dreams and hopes for. It is the quintessential happily ever after. Disney folklore has been under siege in recent years for exemplifying unhealthy gender roles and stereotypes for the young women it is aimed towards. The Disney princess empire is estimated to be worth approximately $4 billion dollars. It elevates the ultimate aspiration in life to being with Prince Charming, and the ultimate duty to be the perfect home-maker.
Taking a critical look at the classic princesses, misogynistic actions are actively reinforced in these fairy tales, beyond the damsel in distress, perfect homemaker archetype. Aurora marries a man who molests her in her sleep. Ariel endures lifestyle altering plastic surgery to be with a man. Belle remains with an abusive man hoping he will change. How can a little girl who grew up idealizing these tales, identify these episodes as sexual violence as an adult? Why are boys being taught this is an acceptable way to get the girl?
I grew up with these fairy tales. I do not feel any life-altering psychological damage as a result. Unfortunately I think that is only because the ideals are so inherent and reinforced with every social construct no one particular thing can be attributed as the cause of why society is still clutching to these gender identities.
I have nieces and cousins who are on the cusp of beginning to play with dolls and watch cartoons and I wonder if giving them an alternative type of fairy tale of girls who fight oppression, seek higher education, and do not need or require a man would make a difference. With a quick internet search I found some interesting results. An example of which is:
A story of a princess who rescues the prince from dragons, and still chooses not to be with him (all while wearing a paper bag).
With children watching an average of 2-3 hours of television a day, it might not hurt to see some evolution in the typical pop media geared towards little girls. It would not hurt for happily ever after to mean something besides Prince Charming.