The Damage of Fairytales: Surreal Children's Portraits & Stories

The Damage of Fairytales

My daughter has recently started to be interested in the princesses. I kind of hoped this day would never come, but here it is.  Don't get me wrong, all the princesses in the Fairytales are good, kind, beautiful women. Nothing wrong with those qualities as a role model. There are many good things that the Princesses can teach young girls. Just from my own experience, I have some issues with some of the Fairytales.

Lets look at the basis of all Disney stories, the classics anyway. A beautiful strong young girl is in a predicament. She is usually oppressed in some way, trapped even. Arial wants out of the ocean, Cinderella wants out of her evil step family, and so on. Then a rich handsome charming man somehow comes along and there is instant love. I mean instant. And they want to be together forever, and they do live happily ever after eventually. First however the handsome gentleman has to rescue her from her situation.

There is something wonderful and romantic about this of course, we all love romance. I know I certainly do. And who doesn't want to be rescued by a strong handsome rich guy? But what these stories did for me as a young girl, is they left me with a very unrealistic view of relationships. I also feel it showed me that I need a man to rescue me when things get bad. I spent a lot of time in my teenage years, and my early 20s messing up in my relationships, and feeling a lot of heartache when it came to men, well lets be real, they were boys ;) I expected perfection from them, I expected them to be this perfect prince that would rescue me and never do anything wrong. This was of course something I was not aware of at the time, but I can see it when I look back.

I can't blame this all on Fairytales, there are certainly other factors involved. But the connection I see there in my own story is very real to me and something I want to be aware of teaching when teaching Fiona about relationships.  Am I going to keep her away from Princesses and Fairytales? No I am not. The plan is not to shelter her from these things. My plan is to teach her in other ways about real relationships and her expectations of them. To show her within our own family, and my own marriage what it looks like on an everyday basis, and how things can get hard sometimes, but we work through it, we say we are sorry and we forgive. I can talk honestly with her when the time is right about how men/boys sometimes forget to call on time. About how they probably won't have a full understanding of what it is that will make you happy even if they have full intentions to, and that sometimes you have to rescue them.

I made this image because this is the type of princess I see my daughter as. She loves the outdoors, playing in the woods, and the chicken coop, looking for lizards and frogs. She loves to sleep in her tent and hunt for acorns. She is a Woodland Fairy Princess if she is a going to be a princess. She is special, and beautiful and so very sweet and good.

Did you look closely? She is holding a frog because I want to teach her that frogs are ok too. That the one she loves might not be the most handsome, or the richest guy in town. He might be more like a frog, a little funny looking, but still really cute. He might be shorter than you, or chew his food funny. He will be imperfect in the best way for her, and that is perfectly ok. I pray that she experiences the romance the we all love so much about these Fairytales. I did eventually find my imperfect prince and I hope he and I can show her how to love hers someday.

xoxo Meghan Aileen