Role of Cinderella in Modern Times

Role of Cinderella in Modern Times

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Role of Cinderella in Modern Times

There are many fairy tales told to children in the United States. My personal favorite was, is, and always will be the tale of Cinderella. The story is as follows: A young girl's mother dies, leaving her alone with her father. As the little girl grows up, she and her father become very close, and he treats her like a little princess. One day, he tells her that he is remarrying. At first, the woman and her two daughters are kind to the girl, but this all soon ends. Shortly after the marriage, the father dies, and from that point on, the "wicked stepmother" and "evil stepsisters" rename the girl "Cinderella" (after the cinders she is forced to sweep from the fireplace). They treat her as an indentured servant, ordering her around, and being very cruel in general.

One day, all the woman are invited to a party at the royal palace, the purpose of which is to find a wife for the Prince. But the stepmother tells Cinderella that she cannot go unless she finishes all her chores-an impossible task in the short amount of time before the ball. The stepmother does not want her at the ball because Cinderella is much more beautiful than the woman's own daughters.

After the stepmother and stepsisters have left for the ball, Cinderella looks around the messy house, and begins to weep. Suddenly, a fairy appears, tells Cinderella that she is her "Fairy Godmother" and makes her a deal. She simply waves her magic wand, and the house is spotless. Another wave, and Cinderella is clean and beautiful, wearing a gorgeous ball gown and glass slippers. The only catch is that Cinderella must be home at midnight, when the spell will wear off.

When Cinderella gets to the ball, she is the most beautiful woman there, and the prince is immediately enraptured by her. They dance all night, but suddenly Cinderella realizes it is almost 12 and she must leave. While fleeing the palace before the prince can see her transform back into a servant girl, Cinderella loses one of her slippers.

The prince is determined to find her again, so he sets out to try the slipper on the foot of every woman in the countryside. He sees by the very small size of the shoe that it would fit only Cinderella. When he gets to Cinderella's house, the stepsisters try to cram their feet into the shoes (in the original version of the story, they even cut off their toes to do so).

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As the Prince is leaving, he sees Cinderella and asks her to try the shoe. Of course, it is a perfect fit, and "Prince Charming" takes Cinderella away from her evil family and they get married and "live happily ever after".

This story fulfills several functions in the belief system of our culture, such as showing what lengths women will go to in order to attract a man, showing what jealousy between women can lead to, and presenting the beliefs that a woman cannot be happy until she has been "saved" by a man, and that the most beautiful woman gets the "Prince". This last idea fits into the theory of belief systems as a way of promoting social order and cohesion. A long time ago, this idea may have been correct, but in today's society, it just does not hold water. The most beautiful woman is unlikely to get the "Prince" if she is nothing more than just beautiful.

This weekend, I attended a party in L.A. that was full of women who are considered to be among the most beautiful and desirable women on Earth. But while talking to them and watching them, I realized that the men they were attracting were not the true "Prince Charming" variety. Yes, the men these women are approached by and date may be handsome.
OR they may be rich…or intelligent...or simply famous. But rarely are they more than one or two of these things. Most of the women I talked to complained that the men they attracted were sleazy, or dumb, or mean-hardly the "Prince Charmings" one would think these women could date. As I watched four gorgeous women, all just a year or so older than myself, fight for the attentions of a man in his seventies, I felt not jealousy of their looks, but rather a sadness for what those looks have meant for these girls.
Many would argue that biologically, men are programmed to want to reproduce with (and by extension, marry) the most beautiful women possible. This may have been true at one point, but from what I have observed in any situations, it takes far more than simply being beautiful to attract a man who can truly be called a "Prince" (in a literal or metaphorical sense). Most men nowadays want more. Looking at men who are leaders of nations, heads of state, captains of industry and the like, one cannot help but notice a couple of things. First of all, these are men who most women would consider to be "Princes". They are brilliant, wealthy, powerful, fascinating to talk with, entertaining to be around. But they do not all have wives who are beautiful. However, not one of them has a wife who is not intelligent, well-educated, sophisticated, gracious, etc. This goes to show that the tale of Cinderella may nowadays be just that-a fairy tale, with not a lot of relevance to today's world.
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