Princesses and fairy tales
As children, many of us aspired to be a princess when we grew up; we aspired to be beautiful, meet our prince, get married, and live Happily Ever After. This dream involved lots of ball gowns, castles, fancy parties and of being adored by all because of the fair and just way we behaved.
Alongside these fantasies, we also had fairy tales that opened our eyes to the strengths of a Princess. Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel… taught us that life may not always be easy but if you do your best and stick to your values you can still come out with your happily ever after.
Today, in 2019, we find ourselves with a real-life Princess, just like the kind we dreamed to be as children. She is beautiful, she has married her Prince, she attends balls, lives in castles, and (in my opinion) behaves fairly and justly. On top of this, she has some awesome power to raise awareness and enact change, to stand up for those who are unable to reach her platform, and to speak for those whose voices are otherwise unheard. Actions I note, that she undertook as an ordinary citizen prior to becoming a Princess; prior to being gifted the title her actions already mirrored those of the fantasy.
In these same fairy tales there were also villains waiting ready to tear down others to take the power for themselves. While I do not believe many children aspired to become these characters I think many of them now, as adults, face a reflection that looks more like Ursula than Ariel. As adults today, these mirrored reflections are judgmental, hurtful, and spiteful. However, unlike the fairy tale villains, there is no intention to take power for themselves; there is simply the sad intention to take power.
We live in a world where opinions are easily, widely, and anonymously shared. This anonymity allows people the freedom to criticize and pass judgement without fear of looking like the villain. Social and online media ensures that these curses of hurtful words are publicised without a second thought, sometimes with an intention that they will put the heroes or heroines into an eternal slumber but more often than not with no consideration for where the apple will fall.
Happily ever after?
As an adult, perhaps happily ever after is a term that is a little naïve, life tends to be a touch more complicated than that but I think it is fair to say that out of life we each seek happiness in whatever form that takes and (generally) wish the same for others.
So, why then do we try to lock our heroes in towers with our words issued anonymously from behind heavy velvet curtains? Has the internet become our aging, ugly portrait, allowing us to move through our lives without the consequences of our actions?