In the prettiest gets the prize. If
In “Some Day My Prince Will Come” by Marcia Lieberman, Lieberman utilizes daily fairy tales and transforms them into a new way to view a “happily ever after.” Lieberman uses an informative viewpoint as well as evidence from several different texts to inform her readers on what being a princess is really all about. Throughout the text, Lieberman mentions stories and movies many readers have either heard or seen. In these stories, many of these women were often seen as a prize or an inheritance. Lieberman uses examples that exemplifies how superficial or deep these stories can affect the children that read them and even the takeaway message children receive. She uses ordinary fairy tale stories and turns the viewpoint to show the stereotypes in society and how they’ve changed. Lieberman uses a negative tone to showcase the disadvantage women were given by critiquing the aspects of beauty, effects fairy tales have on children, point of view and riches.
Growing up, we all think of what our lives will be like when we get older. We fill our heads with future careers, Halloween costumes, and dream for the day the love of our life will come to sweep us off our feet. However, what we do not realize is that the princesses we grew up wishing to be were not often seen for their true beauty. Beauty is a quality that is noticed and “…is an extreme motivation even in stories in where marriage is more of a punishment than reward.” (Lieberman 386). Lieberman explains how sometimes beauty can be a contest and whoever is the prettiest gets the prize. If eligible women are not chosen by the prince, this can force negativity into their lives where they may already feel insecure. Though “Beautiful girls are never ignored.” (Lieberman 385), she still points out even women have their self-doubts. No matter how pretty or how beautiful a princess can seem, everyone can question their self-worth at times. Lieberman states that “…even beautiful girls fear not being taken care of” (Lieberman 385). I agree with her to the point of no matter who you are or social status you hold, everyone can have self-doubt. However, I don’t believe that these doubts arise from fairy tales.
A major argument made is the image of fairy tales and how they influence a child’s outlook on life. She explains how many people want their children actively engaged in reading and want to find interest in what they’re reading, but don’t want their reading to be harshly influenced by the negativity a character may feel about themselves. Lieberman wants the children to “…think more as they read them ‘of the diversion than of the lesson’…” (Lieberman 384). Another issue is dealing with the psychological side of children and how this affects the way children view their relationships. Lieberman makes the argument “that these fairy tales showcase sexual behavior and only intensify how children view the ending” (Lieberman 384), while I believe that many stories or movies may be too mature for children’s brains to comprehend. When a new movie comes out, many children will beg their parents to go take them to it. The producers who made the film know this and therefore may add more adult humor into the movie to entertain the parents. For example, in the movie Mulan they mention cross dressers. While this would go completely over the child’s head, the adults would laugh because this type of humor is of their maturity level. Other factors like a child’s chronological and physiological age, outside environments, and family life may also play into how a child views a fairy tale. For instance, if a child has grown up in an abusive home, they may fantasize becoming a princess because her life seems much better than that of the child. Though the child can pick up on certain behaviors that were used and different attitudes, ultimately the parents are responsible for deciding what is appropriate or is not appropriate for their children to watch.
Another aspect that Lieberman points out is that the way women are portrayed in certain fairy tales gives them a disadvantage because it does not define who they truly are. The point of view weighs heavily on how the characters are presented. Lieberman views it as “Girls win if they’re the ‘fairest of them all’; boys win if they’re capable” (Lieberman 385). Though many times in the movies the princesses are supposed to be damsels in distress, this isn’t always the case. In the movie Frozen, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa defy all stereotypes. When Anna’s sister Elsa becomes in danger, Anna stops at no ends to fight for their sisterly bond. They find their strength through each other and prove that no matter your stature or gender, you can still be brave and fight for what is right. Another great example of this is Mulan. Fearing that her dying father will be called to duty, Mulan takes his place and is forced to survive some of the harshest conditions. Mulan was seen as ineligible and weak to her country because she is a woman. However, she gives her all to prove that she deserves to fight just as much as the man next to her. In the end, Mulan trading hair for a sword proves that just because she was at a disadvantage does not make her incapable. This proves that not all women are portrayed as helpless, and they have a purpose. Anyone can fight for what they believe and are capable of doing so. So, while Lieberman thinks that “the rescuer’s gender is mostly predictable” (Lieberman 391), think again.
The final point Lieberman makes is that of fame, power, and riches. Several princesses were born into a life of royalty. Ariel from The Little Mermaid grew up being a princess. She and her sisters knew the ins and outs of living in royalty. However, this isn’t always the case. Mentioned earlier in the text, Cinderella was a full-time maid that catered to her step sisters’ every need. She was treated poorly and had terrible living conditions. Now while Lieberman points out that “…she inherits wealth because she married a prince…” (Lieberman 387), she did not start out this way. Here at Baylor, I feel like many students can relate to this stereotype. Everyone thinks that if you go to Baylor, you grew up in a big house, with a big backyard, in the best neighborhood, never having to worry where your next meal was going to come from and have always had the financial security to go to any university you wanted. While this may be true for many students here, this isn’t so true for others. Several students here could not afford to go a private university without financial aid and scholarships. Sometimes people are so caught up in the image this university has, that they don’t see the people who attend. So just like some of the princesses, not everyone who goes to Baylor is born into wealth. Similarly, many years ago women were not even allowed to attend college. Now, everyone has an equal opportunity to go to college and get the education they want. Women have proven again and again that no matter what background you’re from, they can achieve anything.
The current world we live is anything but a fairy tale. However, the world is not what it was a hundred years ago. There have been several movements and acts that have strengthen women’s role in society. Women are allowed the same rights as a man and can have the freedom to serve our country in whatever way they please. Women have an equal opportunity to have the same financial status as any of her peers and can be anything she wants to be. Women can not only be seen as moms, but as leaders, law enforcement, and providers who are strong and not the victim of society. Lieberman’s negative tone used to critique the aspects of beauty, effects fairy tales have on children, point of view and riches greatly draws out how the world has changed today. No matter how women are portrayed, in the words from Princess Jasmine in Aladdin we are “… not a prize to be won.”