In a country obsessed with skin colour and fairness creams is a ‘fairy tale’ like ‘Snow White’ something we should be narrating to our children. When a mom pointed out how her baby girl at the young age of three knew she is fair but another girl in her class is dark, I realized reading them a catchy phrase like ‘mirror mirror on the wall…’ is not in their best interest or ours. Introducing them to the concept of different skin colour at such a young age may not be the apt thing to do. This got me thinking about all the fairy tales we have heard/ read as kids.
Why was ‘Little’ Red Riding Hood wandering about unaccompanied in the forest. It’s just too unrealistic a story line. I cannot even begin to point out how many things are just plain wrong with the plot of Hansel & Gretel. Reading that story could instill a serious fear of abandonment in children. The Beast kidnaps and imprisons ‘the Beauty’, threatens to kill her father unless she marries him and yet the Beauty falls in love with him. In medical terms this is know as Stockholm syndrome. I would keep my little kids away from such stories be it fact or fiction. Is the purpose of these stories to scare our kids to sleep??
The running theme of evil stepmothers who have to compete with the ‘princess’ of the state in terms of beauty and the King’s love is getting a tad bit stale. Fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White and Rupanzel need some revamping!! Moving on to the ‘damsel in distress’ act. Why are these fairy tales always putting women in a helpless situation. Why does she always need to be rescued, that too by a ‘handsome & charming’ prince? How is this helping young girls build any self-confidence. And if any rescuing needs to be done at all, why can’t she be rescued by her best girlfriend or maybe her sister. Yes you may argue this is a fairy tale and it’s fiction. But let’s face it parents, children are very impressionable and they do not understand the difference between fairy tales and reality.
Take a moment to think about how awesome the movie Frozen was. ‘Only an act of true love’ could save Elsa, cliché?? Well..That act of true love was no kiss from some prince who she had just met and fallen in love with in the span of one romantic song, but her sister, Anna’s sacrifice to protect and save her sister. Point being stories can be told and made the non-cliché way and still be entertaining for children!!Fairy tales by definition are fabricated stories that usually intend to deceive. Why narrate such stories to children. Most of them have a dark story line and no moral or obvious positive message that they can boast of. The most unrealistic stories are being read to kids all over the world. The child is bound to have imaginary friends if you let him believe there are talking mirrors and poisoned apples in this world.
When we are so careful about the kind of language and tone we use in front of our children why not give a second thought to what these tales maybe teaching them. Stories are the first connect a child has with the world. Let us introduce them to one where they could live comfortably, conflict free. These stories are unconsciously promoting concepts like racism and sexism. The notion that women are the weaker sex and men are considered to be the protectors of society is helping promote patriarchy. We need the coming generations to think differently. Equality among all beings in all forms is the aim and this age is where it all beings. Embedding ideas that women must be rescued by a ‘prince charming’ is something we should not be teaching our little ones. Girls do not need rescuing and boys don’t need to feel any pressure to perform!! And if you have read Cinderella to your little one help him/her realize ‘She never asked for a Prince, all she wanted was a dress and a night off’!!