Like many I have a daughter obsessed by Princesses and the whole idea of fairytales. Bedtime stories tend to be variations on Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, and DVD choices tend to be of the Barbie and Disney Princess variety. Mostly I don’t worry about the messages she’s getting from these stories because I was also obsessed with fairytales as a child and it didn’t make me wait around to be saved by a prince in real life.
However, over the weekend I read that academics are worried about the effect fairy tales are having on girls and their beliefs about men and what being a girl is all about. With one citing Disney films as a potential problem. I am not sure if this academic has watched any Disney films of late, or seen how Princesses are portrayed but I think the modern heroines are far from being pathetic and passive. Ask my daughter what she likes about Rapunzel and aside from her hair, she’ll tell you she likes the way she helps animals, fights with a frying pan and can ride a horse and that’s fine by me.
As for fairy tales being bad, I think they’re actually a pretty good cautionary tales for kids offering gems of wisdow such as – don’t go off the path, wander into other people’s houses , trust strangers etc. Yes they have flaws such as making evil equal ugly but on the whole I don’t think they warrant warnings from up high.
Also let’s be honest most adults love fairytales too for a bit of escapism and fun. Many, many mums I know LOVE the Twilight series and I’m pretty sure a whole host of them will be off to see the dark re-telling of Snow White and the Huntsman with Kirsten Stewart and Charlize Theron, and the lighter Mirror Mirror with Julia Roberts.
But what do you think? Are fairytales bad for kids? Does it give them the wrong idea about what it means to be a girl or boy? Let me know.