The more cheesy the music, the better. It’s mother-daughter bonding at its most obnoxious, and I am more than willing to admit it.
Though I can quote/sing the majority of these cliché films, my daughter was the one to open my eyes to a message within Snow White not too long ago. Snow White had finally had her wish granted. Despite the Evil Stepmother’s attempts, her Prince had found her sleeping and woken her in time to ride off into her happily ever after. Though that sunset ride is something most women had been taught to crave, my little girl reacted very differently.
As Snow White and the Prince rode off, she began to cry. At first it was hushed, as she whispered goodbye to the departing princess. Slowly, the cries began to escalate until she was sobbing and yelling at the screen. As I tried in vain to comfort her, I couldn’t help but wonder what in the world had happened. Snow White had gotten the happily ever after- wasn’t that a good thing?
It wasn’t until my daughter was had cried herself into a deep sleep in my arms that I started to really think about it. Yes, on face, Snow White had received her happy ending, but at what cost? Her Stepmother, an obviously disturbed person, had been driven to self-destruction instead of getting the help she needed. The dwarves, who had been there for Snow White when she had nothing and no one, were abandoned with a low likelihood of future visits or letters.
And what about this supposed happy ending? Snow White had ridden off with the Prince, sure. Let’s think about the connection, though. Snow White was a young, teenage girl. She had literally spoken with the prince for less than five minutes total. She fell in lust with an escape route and a title, and threw away genuine friendships and her only family connection, even if it was dysfunctional.
In other words, Snow White ends up glorifying things we never want to teach our daughters. That men are the only way to make a different life for yourself. That it’s ok to abandon the people you care about for someone you barely know. That’s not what I want my daughter to think. That’s not how I want her to act.
Look, I’m not one of those women who think that Disney is the devil. I’m a Disney junkie, remember? I’m not about to ban Snow White in my home, either. I’d never taken the time to think about the Snow White story like that until my daughter started crying. There are two lessons to take from this. For one, kids are a lot more perceptive than we give them credit for. They absorb everything around them at a rapid rate, and understand it on a higher level than even we might. For two, as much as I like to see myself as the teacher in our relationship, I’m going to end up learning just as much, if not more, from her.
As I laid my daughter in her bed that afternoon, I whispered a prayer:
“Please give me the eyes of a child. Help me to view the world through those eyes of love, and make my decisions from that perspective. Please give me the wisdom of my elders, that I might guide this precious child toward the the lessons we all so desperately need. Help me to teach her that she can make her own crown, and that in my eyes, and yours, she already wears one.”
– Lauren Nelson, Prayables
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