The Ugly Stepsisters

“If only [my stepsisters] each had a husband as nice as you,” said Cinderella.  “Then they would be as happy as I am.”

Bleeeeeck.  This is an actual quote from a book that I, regrettably, just read to my daughter.  I sometimes change the words in books I read to Kiki if I don’t like something the book says.  But I didn’t even know where to start with this book.

Cinderella then devises a plan to throw a surprise ball for her stepsisters and invite all the eligible men in the kingdom in hopes of making love connections for her poor single stepsisters.  Her stepsisters find out that Cinderella is planning a party, but they don’t realize that it is for them. So they try to sabotage the party in lots of silly ways and their ultimate revenge is to show up to the party in ridiculous-looking gowns so that they will embarrass Cinderella.

“[The men] cried out in horror because the stepsisters were so ugly.  All at once, the men, young and old, ran for the door.  They hurried to get away.”

Come on Disney.  What is a mom supposed to do with this?

You need a man to make you happy.  Your looks are the most important quality when it comes to attracting that man.  These are not things I want to be teaching my daughter.

It had been a really long time since I had watched any of the Disney classic movies.  Now that Snow White and Cinderella have made their way into Kiki’s movie rotation, I find myself faced with leading ladies designed in a different era.  The old school Disney princesses are not exactly heralding women’s equality.  Instead they sing all about waiting for their princes to come (in painfully flighty sounding voices, I must add).

The Disney princesses have certainly progressed over the years.  Belle is an avid reader and a dreamer who isn’t at all drawn to the chauvinistic Gaston.  Rapunzel dares to venture far outside of her comfort zone to discover who she really is.  Tiana is a strong businesswoman who has been working hard to make her dream come true.  All of these princesses are strong and independent women who happen to fall in love with handsome princes along the way (except Belle – is it just me or was Belle’s beau more attractive as the Beast than he was after he turned into the prince?).

Kiki loves her DIsney princesses.  Sparkly dresses and crowns – you can’t really blame her.  Not to mention the fact that Disney markets the crap out of those princesses, so you just can’t avoid them.  Even if I don’t agree with the stereotypes of the classic princess movies, I have to indulge her in the whole gamut.  I try to steer her towards the more current princess movies, but sometimes she just really wants to watch Snow White.  So I just try to keep my eye rolls under wraps when I hear Snow White’s squeaky little voice.

But I tell you one thing.  That Ugly Stepsisters book is finding its way to the book donation box outside the library.  Immediately.

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4 thoughts on “The Ugly Stepsisters

  1. Ugh… Some Disney stuff is atrocious. We made the mistake of watching the original Peter Pan a couple months ago… there’s a whole horribly racist sequence around the kids trying to capture bumbling red-faced big bellied Indians that will make you cringe. It’s hard to remember that pop culture from 50 years ago might be full on racist, misogynist, and full of terrible messaging… Peter Pan won’t be hitting the TV again

  2. I’ve just recently started encountering this as my little girl gets a bit older. It’s sad that most of the imaginative stories send the message that looks are the most important thing and you need a man to make you happy. Are there any books you would recommend that portray a better image for little girls?

  3. I don’t know how old your daughter is (my oldest is 3)… and she enjoys the Kevin Henkes books – Chrysanthemum, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, and Julius, The Baby of the World …

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