By Shabita Nandy, Malaysia.
The clock struck 8, the countdown began, and Cinderella smiled
Like she was taught
From inside the bars of her iron corset blue fairytale dress
The glimpse of her happiness lay a couple of dances and a mere batting of eyelashes away
If beauty and gowns were what she needed to be noticed on that one night
Then beauty she would be, and gowns she would flaunt.
For in a world of celebrated silhouettes and soft-spoken smiles
The value of her looks were a societal dictation that she had sharpened into a weapon
To fight her way out of the rut.
And she did, so well in fact
that when the clock struck 12, her job was done and
All he had to do was remember the face of the woman whom he decided wanted to be his wife.
But of course he could not deign to do even that.
And then there was Belle
Who walked out of one man’s invasive gaze only to land in another’s temperament
Locked up in a castle, serving purely as his entertainment
She offered her life and dreams as sacrifice
A decision she could not possibly have thought twice
For was there really a choice
for her at all
when it came down to choosing between her father’s life and her own
And then there was Jasmine
Whose heart only sang about true love wishes
Sparing not a thought for wealth or riches
But of course, a dream come true
Was too good to be true
For a woman like her
Catfished into a relationship with the only man she loved –
And of course when he rescued her from the smothering clutches of another
How could she possibly refuse
When he asked her to marry her.
(What kind of a princess would she be if she wasn’t grateful)
And finally there was Ariel
Driven to break her own identity and voice of steel
Chasing the only dream she ever had
For that was the way women in her family were bred
To bow down to the iron fist of their king
Or else risk giving up one part of themselves for another.
When you think about these Disney movies and the impossible choices these princesses are faced with, they start to sound very similar to the situations that women face today. Viewing their stories from a literary perspective, it’s easy to see how many of these fairy tales are simply metaphors for the issues that plague our society. A man forgetting the face of a woman because he only remembered the version of her that was beautified by facial products and flattering dresses? Or a girl being forced into a situation where she enters a relationship that revolves solely around the terms of the male’s satisfaction and happiness? A man lying to every extent to a woman just so that he can benefit from her love, while completely disregarding the trust she placed in him? And finally, a girl being forced to give up on her dreams because her father didn’t believe in her passion and abilities? If there’s anything to be learned from Disney’s age-old classics, it’s the way that despite everything, these princesses found their happily ever after. Whether it be by defying expectations or by outsmarting their villains, they fought so that everyone watching them would truly understand the power that all women hold-that they are capable of surviving anything.
Please keep in mind that the stories on this page are fiction, but nevertheless carry a weight to their message.