I recently read an article about a mum in the UK wanting to ban the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty from her children’s school. Apparently, it contains an underlying theme of sexual assault as the princess did not consent to being kissed in the first place. When I was a child, what I took from the tale was that the princess fell in love and got to wake up. I’d be pretty happy about that, to be honest. As much as I enjoy sleeping. Should we ban fairy tales?

 

should we ban fairy tales?

 

Most children don’t associate fairy tales with real life, they are not developmentally able to see the theme adults pick apart the stories for. Is it just me or has the world gone PC mad? Should we ban fairy tales, is that the answer? If we run with this, let’s explore some other fairy tales with adult eyes and with children’s eyes.

 

Snow White

Adult eyes: Snow White has a kiss that was nonconsenting, she also lived with seven men she did not know. Not only that, but she happily spent her days cooking and cleaning for them. Very unfeminist and stereotypical. Her stepmother tried to kill her and the Huntsman abandoned her in the woods. Should children of divorced parents not be allowed to read this story in case they start fearing their stepmother?

Children eyes: Snow White is kind and good. The stepmother is evil and wicked. Snow White is very trusting, probably a bit too trusting. She takes the apple from the wicked stepmother and falls into a deep slumber. The handsome prince comes along, thinks she is very beautiful and wants to marry her one day. He saves her, they then live happily ever after.

The intended moral: Vanity leads to destruction and real beauty comes from within. Also, don’t take things (especially food) from strangers.

 

Alice in Wonderland

Adult eyes: If you look at Alice on a surface level it seems to be about a whole lotta drugs and she goes on one big trip. This is clearly not setting a very good example for children. I mean, who doesn’t want to go to Wonderland to meet the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter and other fascinating characters? It does look like rather a lot of fun. And children are impressionable after all.

Children eyes: Alice got very bored listening to a story with only words and no pictures. She is a very curious girl and followed the rabbit. She had a really cool adventure.

The intended morals: Feed your curiosity, it is ok to grow and change and everyone is a little quirky in their own ways.

 

 

Aladdin

Adult eyes: Aladdin is a pathological liar who changes himself completely to be with Princess Jasmine then lies to her. Surely, this is teaching children that it is ok to lie, as long as you get the girl? Or is it saying that you have to change to get the girl, coz she won’t like you otherwise?

Children eyes: Aladdin fell in love with Princess Jasmine, her father only wanted her to marry a prince so he would do anything to be with the Princess. Eventually, he realises that he should just be himself and Princess Jasmine falls in love with the true Aladdin. Plus, Genie is pretty cool.

The intended moral: it is best to be yourself and that honesty and integrity trump wealth. Greatness and strength come from within, not from without. In other words, it’s what’s inside that counts, not what is on the outside.

 

Beauty and the Beast

Adult eyes: Stockholm syndrome central here. C’mon she falls in love with her captor, that’s clearly not healthy. Also, there’s the bestiality thing.

Children eyes: Belle is bullied in her village, they all think that she’s a bit odd and she doesn’t really fit in. She comes to see the Beast for the person he is on the inside and falls in love with him. He doesn’t judge her or think that she is weird because she gets lost in books and wants to be more than just another village wife.

The intended moral: Don’t judge people by their looks, inner beauty is much more powerful. Remember Gaston? Yeah, he was a douche. Pretty, but still a douche.

 

Here are some more examples why we should ban fairy tales

If we are jumping on the PC bandwagon we can make mountains out of molehills, we should ban fairy tales, all of them:

  • Pinnochio is also a liar, he drinks and does drugs too. Very naughty
  • Hansel and Gretel get abandoned by their folks
  • Cinderella gets abused by her stepmother and stepsisters and ends up with a man with a foot fetish
  • Pocahontas = slavery
  • The Little Mermaid is another one who has to change herself to be with the man she falls in love with
  • Goldilocks and the three bears = white privilege
  • Shoemaker and the elves = more slavery
  • Ugly duckling is steeped in prejudice
  • Rumplestiltskin shows greed and that its ok to blackmail people
  • Thumbelina was nearly forced into an arranged marriage
  • Peter Pan kidnapped the Darling children

 

In contrast, fairy tales have underlying morals that are intended to teach children that:

  • Beauty comes from within
  • It is ok to be different
  • Curiosity is a wonderful thing to embrace
  • Bad things often happen, it is how we react that is the most important
  • Be kind and good
  • Wealth is not the most important attribute to strive for
  • Sometimes you have to go through bad times to reach the light at the end of the tunnel
  • Dream of impossible things
  • Everyone is a little mad
  • It is ok to ask for help
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • It is ok to not know your way in life
  • Appearances can be deceiving
  • Time works in mysterious ways
  • Everyone can be a hero
  • Love is a wonderful thing

These are wonderful things to teach children and make up the bulk of why I don’t think we should ban fairy tales. Fairy tales can teach children traits that will serve them well into adulthood, who doesn’t want their child to grow up to become a kind, curious, well-rounded adult, comfortable in their own skin and accepting of others?

 

 

 

While I agree there are some dodgy underlying themes to some fairy tales, they are essentially just children’s stories. If we try to sexualise or place adult themes in them then we are taking away the innocence of children. Let them enjoy the whimsy and naivety of being children. The big bad world will still be there waiting for them when they are older.

One thing I do think that should be made more aware of in fairy tales is the gender roles they portray. As these tales are mostly from generations past, when the gender roles were more uneven they are true to their time. However, I do think that we need some modern fairy tales that portray a more even gender gap. Tales that show that if you are a woman you don’t need to be rescued by a man.

If we look at the origins of fairy tales, they were told as cautionary tales in days where people lived in very different worlds. Today, they are whimsical and enchanting for young children who enjoy being taken out of their own worlds for a short period of time. They are simply stories that young children enjoy with innocent eyes. I personally don’t believe that we should ban fairy tales.

 

 

Below are some original and modern fairy tales for more reading

Note, these are affiliate links, if you make a purchase I receive a small commision (at no extra cost to you) 

  • The original Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales are a great read, some of the tales are quite different from their modern versions. They are a wonderful talking point with children to discuss the differences in modern life to the life that these tales are set in. Many of the Disney versions are taken from the Grimms Brother’s, including Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and Snow White
  • Hans Christian Anderson wrote the original Little Mermaid and Snow Queen. One of my favourite Anderson tales is the Little Match Girl.
  • Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned: Enchanted Stories from the French Decadent Tradition (Oddly Modern Fairy Tales). Subverting the conventions of the traditional fairy tale, these old tales made new will entertain and startle even the most disenchanted readers.
  • Fairy Tales from Around the World has over 100 fairy tales from more than 50 nations taken from The Blue Fairy Book and eleven other collections compiled by Andrew Lang.
  • Psyche’s Stories: Modern Jungian Interpretations of Fairy Tales. Fairy tales can reveal a hidden side of our lives, our unconscious, and our interrelationship with others. Each of these essays provides a Jungian interpretation of a well known or rare tale to reveal the universal psychic dynamics that affect us in our lives and collectively in the world around us. (Synopsis taken from Amazon)
  • The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales is a collection of stories from the 19th century to the present. These stories include the trolls, fairies, princes’s and princesses we all expect from fairy tales but with a more modern point of view.
  • Princess Smartypants is a modern alternative to old-fashioned fairy tales. Princess Smartypants is enjoying single life too much to want to settle down, much to her fathers disgust. He insists she gets married to sets suiters impossible tasks….
  • The Paperbag Princess is another modern alternative that children enjoy reading. The Princess has to throw on a paper bag as a dragon smashes her castle and burns her clothing. She outwits the dragon and attempts to save the prince who looks down at her and tells her to come back when she looks like a real princess….

 

At the end of the day, it is up to individual parents to make the choice whether or not to ban fairy tales for their children. Enforcing a blanket ban is not the answer. Children learn from real life experiences through friends, play, school and family members. Stories do not play the sole role in teaching children right from wrong.

What are your thoughts? Do you think we should ban fairy tales?

 

Jem

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should we ban fairy tales?

19 comments on “Should we ban fairy tales?”

  1. I believe fairy tales are a timely tradition that needs to be passed down from generation to generation. It gives all children a real/imaginative idea of the world and what it is like. When I was young, my father told me the story of Cinderella from memory almost every night. That is to this day one of the best memories I have of my father… who has been gone over 15 years now. People need to be worried about their own family and lives if they don’t want to tell their children the fairy tales that is fine but Don’t try to tell me I can’t. Thank You for the post, I think it will go far and get people talking…

    • What a lovely memory you have with your father. I agree, worry about your own family first 😊 it is up to parents to choose for their own children what to teach them, it’s not up to parents to choose for other children

  2. As a bookaholic and someone writing a novel, I say heck no! If we do that,then we should ban a lot of books for kids, not just fairytales. I won’t even get into the political part of this discussion.

  3. First off, I think that it is important to note that the Disney version of the original stories are a little, and sometimes a lot, different than the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Anderson versions. Being a now grown lady who grew up loving and watching these Disney fairytales, I consider both points, but I don’t believe that it’s necessary to keep them from children. Even as an adult, I don’t watch the movies with the perspectives you offer above. I watch for the moral value. Ultimately, you choose how you raise your children, but I think you’re making this bigger than it has to be. It’s made for entertainment. Plain and simple. As long as children understand the moral value, then that’s what most important. You can teach them the lessons along the way. That’s just my perspective. (I’m speaking as a teacher, an aunt, a big sister, and a fairy tale fan.)

    • Yes the Disney version and the grimm versions are quite different. I have read both (to be honest, prefer the grimm version) and studied both. I agree that the Disney stories for made purely for entertainment, the grimms versions were told as cautionary tales mostly and to pass on morals from generation to generation as they were told before printed books were common. I also agree that we are responsible for raising our children with the values we believe are best instilled. I wrote this as a knee jerk reaction to reading how someone wanted to ban sleeping beauty. A lot of the negative things I’ve said about fairy tales are a bit tongue in cheek as I personally love them and think they’re wonderful. The world is going a bit too far in this PC bandwagon. Thanks for reading, I totally agree with all your points

  4. I never made it to the end, so let me come back and say that I agree with your ending of not making them recognize and understand the adult perspective. We shouldn’t taint their innocence. I completely agree.

    • We should definitely just let children be children and make the most of their innocence while they have it, it’ll be gone before long and innocence is a wonderful thing

  5. Wow, I like the detail with which you’ve analysed this, especially the intended morals. But overall I think fairytales are part of childhood and lend an air of magic to life as a child. As adults we tend to overanalyse and complicate things – and I would read a tale in the spirot it was intended to be read- through the eyes of an innocent child.

    • I totally agree, we adults tend to put our own view on something that is intended to be innocent and a bit of whimsy. I tend to just read/watch children’s stories as they were intended but the article I read about someone wanting to ban fairy tales made me want to analyse why

  6. Hi Jem! I so love this post, I will be coming back to read all of them ( read half of it but time for me is up and gotta go).. overall I think we should not, it is a matter of how you pick up the morals of these and teach the children according to their perspective.

  7. Great article. While it’s easy to look at anything and find fault with it we should be looking at the true intent. It’s more important how the children see the story than how we as adults interpret it.

  8. I absolutely loved this post! I am a Disney lover and a lot of Disney stuff is based off of fairytales. I have also considered the flip side to many of these tales and how their underlying means are a bit twisted, but I see no reason to ban them! There is so much “over the head” humor in children’s movies to keep parents interested as well…yet we still take kids to see them!!

    • Take Shrek and all those types of movies for example, they have humour aimed at adults that fly right on over children’s heads, just as they are supposed to! Children don’t understand or need to understand the underlying means that us adults can twist to whatever we want it to mean.

  9. the only thing I dont like from fairy tales is that all girls are waiting for a prince to rescue her, and boys must be a prince too! why? why cant a girl just not need to be rescue at all or why cant we let boys be boys and not prince? Then we grow up and reality sucks lol! because no prince will come rescue us even if we are “gorgeous” and no boy is a prince at all. Then as woman we are waiting for them to be lovely or caring as those tales, but is not sometimes in their nature, so they must be alone because of that? because they don’t fit in a fairy tale? it wouldn’t matter if fairy tales were just that, but we can avoid dreaming because thats what those are for.

    • I agree, the message about waiting to be saved from the Prince is one of my bug bears. Where is my Prince???!! Some of the more modern stories aimed at girls have princesses or strong women that don’t wait to be rescued which is wonderful. We still need to come a bit further with it though.

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