B. Narratives: where can we find them and what alternatives do we have?

It is true: fairy tales were never meant to cause any harm or provoke hostile behaviours among their readers – let alone their most important target group: children and young people! And it is also true that fairy tales have been born in times when almost none of the concepts related to human rights and equality were a topic to discuss! Sad, but still true! However, humanity evolved and has shown significant progress in this matter, so it is time to reflex, revise and -why not?- alter the remains of the past so that they fit the values of modern ages where all people shall be equal and respected. Speaking of, fairy tales are no exception. Have you ever wondered if or what hidden messages come out of a more careful reading of a fairy tale? Or are you more comfortable staying blindfolded by their superficial innocence? Let’s have a look at one of the most famous and loved fairy tales of all times!

Cinderella’s evil stepmother and ugly stepsisters would not let her go to the ball, as they were jealous of her youth and beauty. However, her fairy godmother made it happen with magic. She danced with the handsome prince and they fell in love. Since she had to leave by midnight, she ran and lost one slipper. The prince found the slipper and searched for her. After he found her, he saved her from her stepmother, they were married and lived happily ever after.


Hidden negative narrative

Evil stepmother, ugly stepsisters would not let her

➔ step-family is often mean
➔ old/ugly equals mean

Her youth and beauty, the handsome prince

➔ the main characters need to be young and beautiful

With magic, fairy godmother

➔ problems require magic to be resolved

Dance with the handsome prince and fell in love

➔ falling in love is instant and a matter of physical attraction

Lost one slipper

➔ female-in-distress

The prince found the slipper and searched for her, saved her

➔ the heroic male
➔ countries are ruled by wise and noble kings and queens who inherit power from their parents (monarchy)
➔ beauty/grace and innocence are rewarded

The were married and lived happily ever after

➔ happily-ever-after involves marriage
➔ social and financial security through marriage into a royal family
➔ every story has a happy ending

It is more than obvious that most fairy tales involve narratives which are more or less common in all stories. And we are pretty sure that there might be a lot more if we tried to analyse the long version of them! So what would this fairy tale look like if we tried to get rid of all the stereotypical narratives and transform it into a more inclusive and acceptable story? Enjoy our version of Cinderella!

Cinderella was a young and powerful girl with a sharp mind and quite multitasking. The day for the ball had arrived, but she wasn’t sure yet if she would be able to go, as she had to finish her homework for the next day. However, she really wanted to be there -it would be such a nice opportunity to socialise! Finally, she pushed herself a little harder and managed to finish on time. She put a nice dress on and the first pair of shoes she found in the self, which was a bit bigger than her size but there was no time for this – she had to catch the ball. She was determined to have a lot of fun but not stay up till late – the next day she had to go to school anyway! She danced her feet out, she laughed and met a lot of people, so when she laid an eye on the clock she realized that it was almost midnight! It was time to leave! Rushing out of the venue she slipped and -as her shoes were big for her- she lost one of them at the stairs. Luckily, one of her classmates found the shoe and was kind enough to give it to her the next day at school. He seemed very kind and gentle, although she hadn’t noticed him until then. They started hanging out, got to know each other better and he turned out to have a very interesting personality! So, they became great friends and lived happily ever after!

How does it look now? We challenge you to try your own versions of any fairy tale by using a lot of imagination and an open mind! Test your skills in…story writing and have fun!
But returning to our topic, the hot question now is…what can we do about it? How can we fight back and how can we change all that is bothering us? Don’t go too far! The answer is as simple as two single words: critical thinking!