Once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess….blah, blah, blah….handsome prince…blah, blah, blah,…rescue…blah, blah, blah…and they lived happily ever after. That was the gist of most of the fairy tales I knew of when I was a little girl.
It was a lovely thought. No matter how difficult the beginning, in the end everything worked out beautifully. Fairy tales are a weird genre anyway when you think about it. There is always someone quite diabolical or evil in them. The stories are often put together in one book for children called “Bedtime Stories”. Scary enough to conjure up some strong nightmares for the poor little ones who have them read aloud to them right before going to sleep. Whose idea was that? In fairness I do know that originally these tales were meant for adults as much as they were for children.
I recall putting on the Disney movie “Beauty and The Beast” to watch with our grandson, Tristan, who was only 3 or 4 at the time. I had to turn it off when the wolves were chasing Belle and her father through the forest. Tristan was totally freaked out! It never occurred to me that a Disney movie could be so terrifying. Don’t even get me started on the Brothers Grimm, who I loved reading, but those were some scary stories!
I’m getting a little off topic here, I meant to talk about the unrealistic “happily ever after” sentiment that these stories left with us as young children. As little girls we all wanted to be the beautiful princess who was rescued by and then married the strong handsome prince. I have a very close friend that is still hoping for a handsome prince to ride his stallion into her life, swoop her up into the saddle with him and while she clings to his strong chest they will gallop into the sunset to “live happily ever after”. Now I’m not saying that won’t ever happen, but I just think that there is a whole lot of messy stuff that accompanies it too. You know, like their kids from previous marriages, the exes, the money issues, etc, etc.
To illustrate my point, I recently found the following images by Vancouver photographer/artist Dina Goldstein. I think they are brilliantly done. These photos come from her “Fallen Princesses” project. “These works place Fairy Tale characters in modern day scenarios. In all of the images the Princess is placed in an environment that articulates her conflict. The “…happily ever after” is replaced with a realistic outcome and addresses current issues.” (Quoted from http://www.dinagoldstein.com/)