Disney has finally done something that us grown up girls really want: a new version of Cinderella’s Glass Slipper. Shoes are the stuff that dreams are made of so the divine combination of a classic fable together with fashion’s famous is nothing short of genius. Wedding planners and Prom Queens will adore the sparkling platforms but the more serious among us will crave the version by Ferragamo. But no matter, what girl doesn’t want some sparkle on her feet? But there us a darker side to this tale of magic and wonder as it is revised once again for a “modern” audience of girls and women.
This iconic story has its origins in an old french Fairytale that naturally expresses values and social situations that are reflective of the 18th Century. But the deep origins of this tale has always had feminists and the more “liberated” women in a twirl. Why does the Prince release Cinderella from bondage and promise a ‘happy-ever-after’ because she had the right dress and shoes? (I watched the trailer to delve further) The dialogue emphasizes that Cinderella is really a good girl. She’s nice and friendly and does everything she is supposed to do but nothing works for her in the face of a bunch of really mean family members. So, she’s in a pretty dysfuntional family with a raging step mother and an ineffective father figure who abandons her. She has to rely on herself to get through it all. That is certainly a more modern spin than the original version that gives all the power to the Fairy Godmother. Much has been made of the conjuring of the magic coach, horses and gown, but historically in the 18th century theses aspects were simply the trappings for a person of noble birth. Cinderella was in fact a person of noble birth so her transformation in the story is purely a restoration of her original station in life that allows her to be considered as a potential marriage partner for the Prince. All will end well, as her true identity is revealed via the magic slipper. But, what are we telling young girls today? Be a good girl, dress properly and all good things will come to you including your winning of the golden prize, the Prince. That’s it?
Maybe this is why woman who make up 55% of the workforce have only 5% of the top CEO jobs in America or why girls don’t pursue jobs as scientists and engineers nearly in the numbers we will need them to in the next 25 to 50 years. This is a sad fact of a education and workplace worlds that have a long way to go as there is still a myth that permeates our society that Cinderella will want a “Prince” instead of that promotion and nice girls don’t get to the top. I love fantasy and fashion like any girl does but a film like this reinforces a pervasive myth and old stereotypes and does not help nor support the future of women and girls in a positive way.
We need to make this century a better place for them and we might start by re-writing this old story into a new version that is more empowering.
I will take all suggestions, here for a new version of this old story.