Fairy tales are major fodder for feminist theorists. And I can see why. The themes of most fairy tales reveal the harsh realities of being a woman, particularly an aging woman, in society.
Sure, times have changed since the days of Grimm but the fears of losing relevance, appeal and recognition haven’t. While women have so many opportunities before them now to express their creativity, brains and power, so many of us are plagued by aging.
I referenced my own fear after seeing the Disney re-make of the Rapunzel story, Tangled with my kids (Weekend Observations: Turning Into A Witch). Again, this fear surfaces in another Grimm re-make, in this case of, Sleeping Beauty, called Mirror Mirror. This is fairy tale is perhaps the best representation of an aging beauty. Emma Gray writes about this in her Huffington Post piece, ‘Mirror, Mirror’: What The Snow White Narrative Says about Women, beauty and Aging. She interestingly notes that in the original story, the mother’s mirror responds in a male voice, as if it’s another being reacting to her. But in the current film, the mirror just shows her own reflection, implying its her own perception, no one else’s, that is feeding or destroying her confidence.
Will we, women, ever get over this fear? I don’t believe we’re immune to it.
But my mom has given me hope. It was her birthday a few weeks back and I asked her if she feels older. She said “I never feel older.” She taught me through this short phrase that, just like the wicked mother’s relationship with the mirror, it’s all (or at least a lot is) in your head. It’s not to say my mom doesn’t try to look her best. Believe me, every six weeks, like clockwork, she’s getting her hair colored. And she’s the first among us to take advantage of the new season’s fashions to add to her wardrobe. But she doesn’t see herself as old. And as a result of this attitude, she doesn’t act it or look it! In other words, if you think you look great and youthful, it will be so!
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