As I read the recent stories about women who are trying to manage both a top-level career and their home-life, I am reminded of the lessons contained in many of the traditional fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
I’m not talking about the Disney versions; I’m referring to the original versions written as folk tales by authors like the Grimm Brothers and Charles Perrault back in the late 1600’s. These stories had a completely different message than Disney’s.
The original tales were really about the Heroine’s Journey. They were stories of a girl”s transformation from a girl to a woman, a maiden to a matron. And the girl herself was the agent of change, not the man. Disney made them into a hero’s journey, with the prince swooping in to rescue the poor princess.
Cinderella, for instance, lost her mother at a young age, and had to live with her dad and step-mother and 2 step-sisters. They made her work day and night, cleaning the house, including the ashes from the fireplace; thus her original name of Ashputtle or Ash-girl.
Cinderella uses her years of servitude to learn how to be independent, rely on herself, work hard, endure suffering and loss, and gain self-efficacy. When the Ball happens, she is ready to meet the world, on her terms. She is confident and powerful, and this energy is what radiates outward from her and attracts the prince. She has connected with the princess within her, and she’s ready for a man, but on her terms.
All girls need time in their adolescent years to withdraw from the world to gather the strength, courage, and wisdom to be able to overcome the challenges they will face as adult women. THAT is the Heroine’s journey.
And that is the theme of my upcoming book on girls: Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women: Guiding the Transformation of Adolescent Girls.