Are Fairy Tales Out of Date?
We all know the stories.
We were read them as kids and probably our grandparents too.
Fairy tales and Folk Tales have been the bread and butter of Children’s literature for ages. Stories such as Cinderella, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New clothes, and Beauty and the Beast have been told and retold over and over again with often great success.
But why do we keep coming back to these stories from eons past? In them are a lot of outdated ideas.
Such as, in Beauty and the Beast, Belle is held captive against her will by the Beast. Yet, she falls in love with him over time, almost as if she was afforded no choice in the situation.
In Snow White and Sleeping Beauty’s Briar Rose, the young women are unconscious when the prince kisses them, which raises up a lot of issues about consent. This is especially relevant now, as conversations surrounding sexual assault and abuse have become more mainstream, thanks to the #MeToo movement. These two stories also feature an evil older woman who is jealous of the younger woman’s beauty. This is a harmful stereotype, as it not only reduces the value of women to their appearance only but also perpetuates harmful and ageist stereotypes about older women.
For Cinderella, the only form of escape avoided to Cinderella comes in the form of a prince whisking her away from her house. This perpetuates the idea that women have to rely on men in order to be saved. This sends a message that we have to appear a certain way to be valued and loved, that we have to fit a certain mold in order to deserve a better fate.
Despite these flaws we still read these stories to our kids because they hold simple truths and morals that we want to instill in our children.
Truths and morals that stand the test of time.
Beauty and the Beast: It’s a reminder that inner beauty, not outer beauty, is what leads to lasting love.
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty: true love conquers all and goodness prevails.
Cinderella: You are more than what other people say you are and that no endowment can guarantee success and happiness
Back in November (Reading: But Why?) I talked about why we read and its importance to the mental and emotional growth of our kids. Fairy Tales and Folk tales provide object lessons which allow us to be taught and enjoy the process along the way.
Many great teachers are the same, using allegory or alliteration to communicate a difficult subject. Even Jesus repeatedly used stories or Parables to communicate the new kingdom he was bringing to all mankind.
While many folk tales and fairy tales have some antiquated ideas in them, those elements don’t take away from the truth being communicated.
So, keep reading the classics!