Cinderella is one of our hardiest cultural icons–the cinder-wench’s story has been told and retold, tweaked and re-imagined and set to music. Soon she’ll have another straightforward big screen adaptation.
Yet the Cinderella story, far from offering a viable script for female fulfillment, peddles a seductive and toxic recipe for disaster to young girls at their most impressionable stage of life.
Let us examine the text.
“Well what do you say? Do you still think you are not able to attend the ball?” asked her godmother.
“Oh yes!” cried Cinderella, “but should I go looking like this, in these rags?”
Her godmother only touched her with her wand and instantly Cinderella’s rags turned into a dress of white and silver, sparkling with jewels.
To top it off, fairy godmother gave Cinderella a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the whole world.
Obviously, I understand the allure of daring, avant-garde footwear and no-holds barred couture, but this is precisely the wrong approach to sneaking into a ball. Flamboyance makes you notable, and notability, even for beauty and taste, is your mortal enemy when trying to mingle undetected at an event where you do not belong.
The last thing you want, as you ask some handsome swain to fetch you another cocktail, is to catch the eye of a waiter who realizes that fifteen minutes ago you were a member of the catering team. Your goal here is to look both unimpeachably correct and absolutely unremarkable. Stick with dark colors and classic cuts.
When Cinderella made her entrance, the dancing and music stopped as everyone turned to gaze at her beauty
See? See what happens?
And if you’re coming late, you need to use the service entrance or some other unobtrusive and forgotten aperture. The main doors are risky at any point, but in the hubub of the general arrival you might be able to slip or brazen your way through. A dramatic solo entrance after the legitimate guests have been ushered in a) makes it clear you aren’t one of them, and b) makes it easy for security personnel to get hold of you.
Cinderella even made time to approach her step-sisters, who still did not recognize her, and shared some of the oranges the prince had presented to her as a gift.
Pushing your luck, madam, pushing your luck.
The Prince rushed up to greet her, led her to the most honorable seat by his side and later took her out for a dance. As they danced, the crowd whispered together “How gracefully they dance! But who can the beautiful lady be?”
Again, I get it—not only have you infiltrated the thing undetected, you’re going to carry off the prize of the night right from under the bastards’ noses. It’s enough to make a girlish heart go pitter-pat. But it’s just not practicable.
Pairing off with the ball’s most eligible bachelor can only invite the aforementioned dread foe of gala-crashers everywhere, notice. Moreover, someone is bound to be jealous, and a fervent wish to see you gone combined with a whisper about your mysterious origins portends, at least, a stressful night.
Despite Cinderella’s absurd fairy-tale example, dancing with the prince will make the ball less enjoyable for you, not more.
The prince never left her side
One dance with a man is fine, but if he asks you for every dance he’s bound to ask other things as well–“What is your name? Where are you from? When can I see you again?” As far as I can tell, Cinderella seems to have completely neglected the advance planning that makes this line of inquiry tolerable. Perhaps she had a unique gift for thinking up things like “The Countess Henriette Marie d’Conteuse, désolé, je parle verrrrrrry little Eeeenglish” on the spur of the moment, but if so, she’s the exception, not the rule.
Cinderella was enjoying herself so much that she completely forgot the time!
When the clock struck midnight, Cinderella was shocked and fled immediately, leaving one of her glass slippers behind in her haste.
No advance planning, no track of time, no exit strategy. And consequently leaving something by which they can trace you! O Cendrillon,Cendrillon, how many young girls have you already led astray by your immortalized incompetence!
How many young women, in their trusting innocence, have broken their hearts over the unrealistic expectations and inadequate life preparation this story offers; how many have attempted to crash their first charity ball, all eager hopes and rosy idealism, only to fail spectacularly when they meet their first suspicious coat check manager.
Parents, when you let your children read Cinderella, consider the kind of women you want them to become. Consider the messages this sugar-coated lie is sending. Talk to your daughters about the dangers of the Cinderella mythology–talk to them now, before it’s too late.