I am, and have always been, obsessed with fairy tales. I love them. I love how I feel when I read them. (Yes, present tense. Read them. Have you read Gregory Maguire’s retellings of fairy tales? I didn’t care for the Wicked series, but I LOVE the rest of his work.)
As I’ve gotten older, though, I can’t buy into them as much as I used to. I get tired of the princess character.
The basic plot of almost every fairy tale is:
- Princess character (oppressed in some way) has a problem
- Prince is introduced
- Prince fixes things
- Princess character becomes an actual princess is whisked away to a life of luxury and security with Prince character
On the surface: emotionally exciting and very easy to escape into. At it’s core: boring. No one grows in this story. No one experiences much character development. Especially not the princess.
Think about it. Cinderella, my favorite princess, was a crazy hard worker. She cleaned, she put up with a lot of stuff. But she had spent her young adult life not sticking up for herself. I always wondered why she didn’t tell her stepsisters off. Why she didn’t grow. And when her prince shows up, the guy she didn’t even know before she married him, magically, because he came looking for her, her life was better. What even happens after the wedding? I don’t believe Cinderella II & III. There had to have been some issues.
Lies. All lies. If I had sat around waiting for my “Prince Charming”, I would be fat, immature, and unemployed. I would be sitting on my heels, waiting for someone to come and magically make my life without any effort on my part.
I had to grow as a human being before I was ready to get married. I had to, and still have to, work hard to make money and keep my apartment clean. I have to work hard to honor God and to keep growing. I have to work hard to be a woman who is pleasant to be married to, who continues to grow.
And that desire for someone to come in and save me is caused by my need for Christ. I was made to be redeemed. But He doesn’t come in and fix everything in an instant. He loves me too much. He loves all of us too much. He makes us go through the hard stuff to refine us like gold in the fire, and walks with us through everything. That’s a real story with character development. (And lots of crying on my part.)
My story wasn’t over when I got married. My story isn’t “on hold” because I’m not a mother yet. I had to actively wait. I have to live my real, messy story with Christ and be thankful for today.
What do you think about our cultural fairy tale obsession?
This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge, in which a group of writers post a piece every day for the month of October.