With the new live action Cinderella set to impress audiences, fairy tales have been on people’s minds. They remind us of our childhoods, and of the hopes that they had inspired in us.
Many fairy tales have a dark and horrific history that have been altered for people to enjoy. In a Huffpost article, it discusses the disturbing truths of some of our favorite tales, including one of the most popular: Snow White. It’s believed that the tale was actually based on the life of Margarete von Waldeck. Her brother used small children for mining, and after they became deformed, a man would serve poisoned fruit to the children who he believed had stolen from him.
Margarete’s step-mother was also evil in her own way: she was jealous of Margarete’s beauty and sent her away, where she had a love affair with Prince Philip II of Spain. She was then poisoned because of the affair. Sound familiar? This awful history was altered to be sold as a more pleasant tale.
However, when these tales were changed, they may have become more pleasing to listen to, but they also left out some important life lessons.
1. There’s Not Always Someone There to Rescue You
In almost all fairy tales, someone is there to save the main character: The hunter saves Red Riding Hood and Fairy Godmother helps to rescue Cinderella. But what these tales don’t teach us is that occasionally, we have to save ourselves. Sometimes in life we will get ourselves into a bind, but it will be up to us use our own strength to pull ourselves out again.
2. We Won’t Always Sing While We Work
When Snow White and her dwarf friends sing songs that include lyrics like, “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go,” and “Just whistle while you work”—as well as all of the singing Cinderella does while she finishes her house work—we learned that singing helps you get through the work day.
While that true on some days, what fairy tales don’t tell us is that some days, even the cheeriest song can’t make the things go easier. When workers, bosses and customers are stressing us, we can feel more like screaming our way through work than singing.
3. Everyday Will Not Be a Perfect Hair Day
There’s a common trait that almost all fairy tale characters seem to share: They are always looking perfect. Whether it’s in movies or pictures in storybooks, everyone looks good, no matter what is happening in their lives. However, that’s not always true in real life.
There will be many many days when you feel less than beautiful or perfect, when your hair is looking like something a bird flew out of and your makeup is non-existent. It’s ok to be looking less than perfect, we don’t need to look like a Princess 24/7. We just need to let our inner beauty shine.
4. Beauty Comes In Every Shape
Along with perfect hair, the main characters of fairy tales are often depicted as the perfect shape. While there’s nothing wrong with these pictures and movies, since they are for entertainment, we need to know when we get older that there is nothing wrong with not being a size 2.
It’s a lesson that girls especially have to take to heart for as long as we can. We don’t need to feel bad if we don’t have the waist of Belle. Pictures are just pictures. We need to embrace who we are as a person and let our looks not get us down.
5. “Ugly” Doesn’t Mean Evil
The “ugly” people in fairy tales tend to be evil. Of course that’s just to show us the difference in characters. But it can sometimes teach us that ugly is bad. Which of course isn’t true. Your outer appearance has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. Beautiful of not, it’s up to you how you live your life.
6. Life Can Still Be Good With a Step-Family
Did anyone ever notice how many how many step-families are evil in fairy tales? It can almost makes you think you’re doomed to unhappiness if you belong to a this kind of family. But what we need to learn is that, while yes, blending families can be extremely difficult,it won’t be all bad. With hard work and effort, blended families can be pretty great. They can be chaotic and fun and full of love.
7. Sometimes You Need to Be Tough Instead of Sweet
Fairy tales tend to have main characters who are kind, sweet and gentle. And while that works for creating stories with lovable characters, it doesn’t always work for real life. There are times in life where being sweet and kind isn’t going to get you far. Sometimes, you need to bring a little toughness, a little can of whoop-ass to the table to get things done or to get what you need. And those days shouldn’t make you feel bad, but, rather, they should make you feel strong.
8. Balancing Work and Play
In the famous tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper, we learn that hard work gets us ahead in life. But what also needs to be taught is that the grasshopper wasn’t all wrong. Too much work will make life pass you buy. Without any playing or enjoyment, there’s not much point of living. You need to balance work with play. So go ahead and get the work done, but don’t forget to take breaks and enjoy the life around you.
9. The Past Can’t Always be Undone
In tales like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, life resumes as normal after the curses are lifted. But that’s not always true. There are times in life where we can reverse what’s been done, but there are many times in life where what’s been done can not be undone. Learning that our actions, whether good or bad, can be permanent—that there’s not always a “do over”—is important. It makes us take responsibilities for what we do.
10. Bad Things Do Happen from Time to Time
We all know the famous saying, “And they Lived Happily Ever After.” Every fairy tales ends this way, and it makes us feel very god inside. But life doesn’t always have a happily ever after.
Bad things really can and do happen. Our hearts do break, we lose people we love, and we have to cope with the pain that real life brings. While it’s wonderful to live in these tales to enjoy the “happily ever afters,” it’s important that we learn that real life doesn’t always turn out that way.
Fairy tales are fun, happy and enjoyable. And while there are many things we can learn from fairy tales, there’s also a lot of life lessons that these fairy tales don’t teach us about. But that’s ok—we’ll continue to love these fairy tales for generations to come. And the other life lessons? We’ll figure them out along the way.
Featured photo credit: JANIE via flickr.com