Cinderella was the story I grew up hearing, the movie I grew up watching, the doll I grew up playing with. Why, you ask? It all has to do with the multi-million dollar Disney Princess franchise. A trip to most clothing or toy stores will result in an encounter with Disney’s most famous ladies: Arielle, Belle, Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, and Jasmine. Although matching one’s daughter to a Disney princess wasn’t as popular in the eighties as it is today, my parent’s managed to be ahead of the trend. Katie, my older, raven-haired sister, became the Snow White of the family, while I, the butterscotch blond was dubbed Cinderella.
During my childhood, the only Cinderella I was familiar with was the Disney Cinderella. You know the one: two ugly stepsisters, one wicked stepmother, talking mice, and a fairy Godmother. It really is quite an innocent little story, isn’t it? It wasn’t until college that I learned how many Cinderella stories there truly are. France, Germany, Italy, China, India, and Native America all have their own versions.
Since then, I have read some of these versions which differ greatly from their Disney counterpart. My personal favorite, which should come to no surprise, is the German (Grimm’s Brothers) version, Aschenputtel. In my opinion, it is a darker version of the tale. The wicked stepmother is so desperate for her daughters to become princesses that she makes them cut off parts of their own feet in order to fit into Cinderella’s dainty slipper. I’ve always been a fan of the Romantic period in art and literature. I love the emotional extremes within that movement and in this telling of Cinderella, though it’s rather strange to think that this is the kind of tale that was told to children. I’m sure my parents would have thought twice about buying me Cinderella dolls had that been the only version of the tale. It makes you wonder what we would know of fairy tales today if it hadn’t been for the animators at Disney!
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