{Guest Post} "Fairy Tales are a Major Influence of Childhood" with guest poster Danielle

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Danielle would love to get other fairy tales fans' impressions of fairy tales and some of the ideas I have about how they've impacted our view of society and our goals and desires as we grow up under the influence of fairy tales.

Feel free to leave her comments on the subject and she'll respond. We'd love to see a great discussion on the topic!

Fairy Tales are a Major Influence of Childhood

by Danielle

Fairy tales are a major influence of childhood.  We dream of being the princess in the tower saved by the noble prince.  We fear the wolves in the dark and the old lady down the street who could be a witch.

Fairy tales spark our imaginations and encourage us and give us hope. 

But Fairy tales weren’t always about being saved by the handsome prince.

Fairy tales began as bloody cautionary tales.  There were reasons to fear wolves in the dark; though Little Red Riding Hood, or Little Red Cap as it was originally titled, had nothing to do with wolves and everything to do with growing up female in a male dominated world.  In the original Ashputtel, Cinderella’s step- sister cut off her heel in order for the glass slipper to fit.  How fairy tales have evolved from their original intent into the hopeful stories we are familiar with today helps plot the change in society and especially how children’s stories have changed and their impact on our expectations as we age.

Ask almost anyone about the story of Cinderella and they will mention a beautiful ball gown, a coach made from a pumpkin, and singing mice helping Cinderella escape from her prison tower.  So how did fairy tales go from self-mutilation to singing mice sewing a dress?

One reason for the change in fairy tales is the launch of marketing targeting children.  It is only within the last century that children have become a target for products and services designed specifically for them.  Rarely can modern fairy tales be seen as cautionary tales, but rather a source of entertainment for children.  But have fairy tales yielded a different sort of lesson with their transformation?

Of course, I don’t blame Disney for expensive prom dresses or the “celebrities” who divorce after four weeks of marriage.  I love Disney’s adaptations of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.   I love watching little girls dress up as princesses and believe that every little girl should be treated like a princess at least once in her life.

“Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after” have become an expectation.  Teenagers dress up for the prom as if they are going to a royal ball.  Weddings have ballooned into a billion dollar industry reflected in reality TV shows such as “Say Yes to the Dress” and “A Wedding Story”.  Divorce is seen as an easy out when happily ever after fails to materialize.  

Fairy tales are reflections of us.  In their original form, they were cautionary tales for a hard and confusing world.  Now they are stories of princesses and fairies and expecting a prince to sweep us off our feet and keep us safe for the rest of our lives.   What do fairy tales tell us about ourselves as a society?  Do we expect the world to be handed to us with little work on our part?  Are fairy tales doing a disservice to our society by the changes society has made for them?   What are fairy tales teaching us?


  1. I tried to write a comment many, many times and each time realized it will anger someone for me to state my true feelings. So I will just say I agree and I predict doom.

    1. Feel free to email me if you like. I'm interested in hearing your opinions.

  2. Unfortunately this is true. I have an aunt who isn't allowing my cousin to watch Disney movies but I think it is so popular in our culture eventually she will see them. I didn't feel like I learned lessons from the movies that made me run out and look for a man to save me... but all kids aren't like I am.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I didn't expect a man to save me, per se, but I didn't expect the Happily Ever After and was upset for many years when it failed to materialize. But I get the sense from newer Disney movies that the trend is shifting again. So there's hope there.

  3. This is such a great post. I do believe fairy tales give us unrelistic expectations, but I still love Disney movies. I still would love to be a princess. All of it is part of the optimism of the American Dream. We are dreamers and we have a messed up society because of it. Divorce is way too common. Are fairy tales to blame? I don't know. This post is excellent.


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