I am slowly overcoming my aversion to Disney princesses. If I did not have super-girly daughters, this wouldn’t be a priority to me. But in spite of our best efforts, my wife and I got a couple of girls who love all things pink and sparkly.
That’s why I picked up the audio storybook for Disney’s Cinderella at the library over the weekend. And, wanting to be the best father I can, I listened to it with them.
I think I actually groaned when the story got to the part about Cinderella arriving at the prince’s ball. This is the bit of the story that I remembered and upon which my original negative feelings for the story as a whole are based.
The girl walks in and she’s beautiful, causing the prince to fall madly in love with her. They dance together but exchange no information about themselves (shouldn’t she have told him her name?), and he decides that he wants to marry her and no one else.
We were listening to the story in the car as we drove to the grocery store. At the arrival at the ball part, my wife said something incredibly insightful.
“Yeah,” she said sarcastically. “It’s a good thing that looks never fade.”
Now, maybe I should have realized this before, but the story isn’t about a stupid guy that bases major life decisions on appearances alone. Nor is it about how wishing really hard for something will cause that thing to come true (Bippity Boppity Boo!). It isn’t even about how important it is to wear impractical footwear (A glass slipper? Really?).This is a story about being the right kind of person when the appearances DO fade. After all, the main twist in the plot is that when the clock strikes midnight, the magic is over.
When we meet Cinderella, she is sweet, kind, hardworking, and she has a way with animals. When the fairy godmother comes along, all of these things are still true, they are just buried within a pumpkin carriage with mice for horses. Sure, the fancy dress got her into the door of the ball, but who she was got her the rest of the way there.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that this is a good story for children to base their lives upon, but I think I get it now. Wishing something was different doesn’t change anything, but being a hardworking sweetheart will make it easier for things to go your way when the chance arrives.
Was I the only one who took thirty years to pick up on this theme in Cinderella’s story?