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You are what you read

GWTWind By Amanda Ponzar

A friend just sent me this post "Girls, pick your bedtime reading with care" by Samantha Ellis. Jane Austen has had a tremendous impact on my idea of love, romance and "happily ever after." Add to that all the Disney movies I watched about Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmin, Sleeping Beauty, etc. (you can even take a quiz "Which Disney Princess are You?"), and I was pretty much doomed to believe in fairy tales. It probably didn't help that I majored in English and loved medieval lit. And yes, momma put me in a pageant. Once. I only did it once and decided I wanted to use my brain rather than my...uh...other parts.

Little mermaid Ellis talks about the books and heroines that influenced her, the women in the stories that became her role models -- from Scarlett O'Hara (Gone with the Wind) to Jane Eyre to Cathy Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights). She even mentions the Little Mermaid who "exchanges her voice for legs to get a man". Wow, never thought about it THAT way.

Did Ellis choose the right role models? Did I? Did you? In some ways, the stories (whether on the page or silver screen) taught me to believe in perfect men, perfect love and perfect lives (as least, after you get married, right?) as well as to favor the wild, unpredictable Lancelot over good King Arthur. Time to grow up and get real. Would I marry Lancelot now? Not a chance.

Shrek What I've learned over the years is that the women I admire most are not headstrong heroines or beautiful princesses, but rather women who work hard, never give up, love their families, serve their communities and the poor, and are incredible friends and mothers. (See my posts on "Women you won't see in the Hall of Fame" and "Here's to all the Mommas".) Maybe that's why I like the fairy tale Shrek, because Fiona chooses to be an ogre raising kids in a swamp rather than a princess taking tea in a castle. Now that's an interesting twist. Do we really need more princesses? Most days, my life sure feels more like the swamp, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Comments

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Callie at Womenkind

My mother (a self-proclaimed feminist) used to read me "The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert N. Munsch. It's a good example of a fairy tale without a typical princess (she rescues her prince, then calls him a bum after he tells her that her hair and clothes are a mess). Funny, with a princess we can admire.

Cara

Ariel doesn't "exchange her voice for legs to get a man". Eric is another exciting part of the human world she has dreamed of all her life--in "Part of Your World", she doesn't sing to Eric but to the entire world on land. Plus, she takes her drastic measures in rebellion against her destructive father. So, why is everyone so eager to *%$# on The Little Mermaid?

Annie

I think you pick heroine's that have the traits you admire or embrace. If you believe that love is the most important thing in life than what Ariel did was wonderful, romantic and purposeful. Jane Austin always provided smart herione's with yet the same thing about love.

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