The fairytales we grew up with, to some degree, have tainted our perception of love. They have subliminally told us what love must look like…primarily through a heteronormative lens. Let’s break it down, and reimagine some classic tales of old.
Once upon a time, in a land untouched by smartphones and hashtags, fairytales reigned supreme. These tales were woven with tradition, reflecting the prevailing attitudes of their time. These timeless tales have captured our imaginations, transporting us to fantastical realms filled with love, adventure, and happy endings.
However, upon closer inspection, one aspect becomes oddly apparent: Fairytales have predominantly depicted the love stories of heteronormative characters, inadvertently shaping societal expectations and limiting our perceptions of romance. Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves in a world where the narrative is finally moving, patching together tales that embrace the beautiful tapestry of diverse modern love stories that go beyond heteronormativity.
Before we dive into what fairytales did wrong, it is important to acknowledge that these stories were created at different times, reflecting societal norms and values of their eras. While we critique their heteronormative attitudes, respecting the historical context is crucial while also pushing for more inclusive narratives. With that said, let's get into it.
A Kingdom of Heteronormativity
There’s a pattern that repeats itself across classic fairytales—a handsome prince rescuing a damsel in distress, ready to live happily ever after. From Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, these tales have perpetuated the notion that heterosexual love is the ultimate goal. While love knows no boundaries, fairytales have contributed to the heteronormative matrix that subtly influenced young minds, making it seem like anything nonbinary or outside straight relationships is undesirable.
Stereotypes and Gender Roles
Let's take a moment to appreciate the fairy godmothers who have expertly enforced gender roles and heteronomativity throughout fairytales. Cinderella's fairy godmother, with a wave of her wand, gives her a ball gown and a pair of glass slippers, reinforcing the belief that all women need is a fabulous outfit and a prince to validate their existence. No mention of self-love, confidence, career, or any hobbies outside of longing for love. Sounds like an awfully boring existence in my opinion. However, we do have some modern princesses like Elsa and Mulan teaching young watchers the true strength that comes from within, not from finding the perfect heterosexual partner.
Shattering the Glass Slipper
In recent years, Disney has stirred from its enchanted slumber, realising that the world craves stories that go beyond the confines of heteronormativity. From Elsa's empowering journey in Frozen to the live-action Beauty and the Beast featuring a subtly inclusive LeFou, Disney has finally dipped its toes into the waters of representation.
Rewrite, Reimagine, Relearn
It's time to weave new tales that reflect the realities of our diverse world and ensure that they are free of heteronormativity. As storytellers and consumers, we have the power to reshape fairytales and create narratives that embrace all forms of love. So here’s my attempt at a fairytale that does not limit its audience.
Once upon a time, there lived a being with hair like the rainbow and skin the colour of the earth. In a moss-covered cottage nestled deep within the woods, they hummed melodies of freedom, taught to them by the birds. At a grand ball, just before midnight, dressed in a robe spun from silk and starlight, our protagonist locked eyes with the perfect stranger. There was no question, it was meant to be. But things don't come easy to those that dare to love freely.
After secret rendevous and whispers of love, they battled a hundred hurdles. They refused society’s poison apple, steered clear of judgement's pin-prick, kept their slippers on past midnight, and fought for the pursuit of love. And after many trials, they made it. They loved freely. They loved together and they loved alone. When they were apart, they showered themselves with love and good vibes, with full body massagers like Pulse, of course ;) They lived happily ever after. Partly because that's how fairytales go, but also because love, is simply love.
Celebrate love with-