I sat down with my then 2 year old daughter excited to read her new fairy tale book, first up was Snow White; a classic. I wasn’t past the first page before I quickly had to think on my feet and rewrite the story, “take her into the woods and bring me back her beating heart” wasn’t the kind of story I wanted to read to my daughter, whatever her age. When I cast my mind over the best known classics I quickly realised that none of them were the kind of stories I wanted to read to my child.
Recently as I’ve been thinking of my role as a mother and the example I want to set for my girls, I realised that’s what is missing from all these fairy tales, a strong, confident mother figure. All the mothers have died and most of the villains are played by evil women; Snow Whites wicked step-mother, Cinderella’s ugly step sisters, Rapunzel’s evil ‘mother’. Pocahontas, Ariel, Belle, none of them have a mother and they were all saved by a man to live ‘happily ever after’. Seriously, is that what we want for our daughters? To believe we can only be saved by a man?
Now before you think I’ve totally lost the plot, it is between the age of 0 and 6 that our belief systems are formed and these lay down the foundation for the rest of our lives. Our beliefs are the lens through which we view the world and everything is formed from them on a subconscious level (we run from 95% of the subconscious mind and only 5% from our conscious, logical mind!). Our subconscious mind is most susceptible when we are in the alpha brainwave frequency, which is exactly the frequency we slip into when watching TV. Have you ever tried talking to your child, or anyone for that matter, when they are engrossed on the TV? You can call their name but nobody’s home, their mouths are wide open catching flies and their little sponge like brains are soaking it all in. Consciously they aren’t thinking ‘oh poor Belle she doesn’t have a mother’ but who knows what’s going in on a subconscious level, especially when all these stories follow a similar tale.
Do I think these tales have been written to supress women and make them depend on men? No, well not intentionally anyway but this has been a ‘man’s world’ for far too long and it’s time we rewrite the fairy tales so that women stand strong, confident and determined. Thankfully this is starting to happen, not just in the fairy tales but all over the world. Women are taking back their power, they’re taking back their power in birth (which I am very pleased to be a part of in my role as an active birth teacher) they are claiming their place in the corporate world and politics but most importantly they are claiming their rights as mothers, healers and creators. The masculine/feminine balance is shifting and this is sooo needed right now. Women (and yes some men too, I’m not being sexist here) bring a different kind of energy, they embody the soft, nurturing warm energy of love but this has been squashed for so long as we try and fit into this ‘man’s world’, as we compete and fight for our equal rights our true nature is buried and we lose sight of who we are. We all carry the masculine and feminine traits but we need to learn to balance these equally and allow our natural, feminine energy to shine through. We need to stand as strong, confident role models for our children. I hear all too many women say ‘I can’t do this or that because of my husband, I can’t have a homebirth because he won’t allow it’ but no man has the power to make our decisions or control our world, only the power we give to them. I absolutely believe in equality and we need to work as a team, especially when raising our children but when it comes to feminine issues like giving birth this is truly a woman’s world and a mother’s decision to make…….but that’s a whole other story, perhaps for another day!
So, do I stop my girls watching all Disney DVD’s? No, but I am selective about what they watch and conscious of the questions they ask and the answers I give. Thankfully things are changing, I’m a huge fan of Tinkerbelle, she’s creative (a tinker of course!) clever, feisty and determined, everything I hope my girls will be; born of a laugh there is no talk of mothers or fathers just adventure and following her heart.
As this blog was whirling around in my head we’d just got back from holiday and it was miserable and wet so I decided to have an afternoon curled up with my girls and went and bought the Frozen movie. With my thoughts of the mother figure in my mind I watched it from a new perspective, what is this teaching my children? Whilst I don’t get OCD on all the details I do try and teach them valuable lessons from the questions they ask like “why is Hans good and then bad?” (Sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t watched it yet). This is a biggy for me; I have always been far too trusting of people. I trust and love everyone, I wear my heart on my sleeve and unfortunately some people are only too keen to take advantage of this and I learnt a very harsh lesson last year on trust. Not everyone can be trusted, some people are only out for themselves and whilst initially I was disappointed with the way they portrayed this in the movie, it is a valuable lesson and I hope I helped to instil this gently in their mind.
What I do love about Frozen is that this is the first Fairy Tale where she isn’t saved by a man; she’s saved by a woman. Elsa, like many of us, is made to hide who she really is; her gift is seen as a curse. This is exactly how I have felt about my sensitivity my whole life; ‘stop crying’ ‘don’t be so sensitive’ ‘toughen up’, they all say don’t be who you really are “conceal it, don’t fear it, don’t let them know” but for the first time in forever I’m seeing this as my gift and using it for the good it can do (did you see what I did there? 😉 if you’ve not seen the movie that one will go way over your head!).
Is there a part of you that feels like a curse?
If any of you have daughters watching Frozen, like me you’ve probably watched it over and over and over again. Katy likes me to play the ‘let it go’ song repeatedly and I love it, we sing and dance around together; ‘that perfect girl has gone’ ‘here I am and here I stay’ ‘let it go let it go’. Elsa represents everything I write about; finding your true self, your gift, letting go of perfection and standing in your power. This movie is about being who you really are and sharing your gift with the world, it’s about strong, confident women who don’t need to be ‘saved’ they just need to be who they really are, I love it!
This, of all the blogs I’ve shared so far, is the one that I thought might get people thinking I’m just a crazy fool who thinks way too much (and that’s ok, I’m not denying any of that) so I read it to my sister. My sister by the way, by her own admission, is my biggest fan and I have to say my biggest support; I don’t know where I would be without her, this one is for you Katy! After reading it to her I was pleasantly surprised by her reaction when she said she loved it and had been thinking the same thing! She also said I couldn’t post this until I’d watched Brave so, purely for research purposes of course, that’s what I did and she was right!
Meredith is another girl after my own heart, in fact she reminds me very much of my sister! She is strong, determined, feisty, and brave; she knows who she is and what she wants! I love her! (Wow lots of exclamation marks coming out can you feel my passion!) What I love most about Brave is the focus on fate, our destiny. This is something I believe strongly in, we all have a destiny, a purpose but also the free will to choose our own path. We aren’t all as fortunate to have willow the wisps appear just when we need them to illuminate our path but we do have an inner guide, our intuition, who speaks to us if only we would learn to listen. “Our fate lives within us you only have to be brave enough to see it” and of course the Scottish accent just makes this movie a treat for the ears too!
Are you brave enough to see your fate? I wasn’t for a long time, I held off writing for fear of ridicule but I know this is what I’m meant to do, it just feels right and yes it does take bravery, every time I hit the publish button I get that nervous/excited feeling in my tummy, I wait and hope that someone will leave a comment, that sharing my inner most thoughts and feelings hasn’t been a waste, so thank you to all of you who have commented and encouraged me to continue!
Finally, the most poignant point of the Brave movie is Meredith’s relationship with her mother; our mother is (for most of us) our strongest influence in our life. As the Queen she has expectations on how a princess should be but Meredith is far from your average princess (however she does depict beautifully many young girls of today). “A princess must always strive for……perfection”. It’s not just princesses who are expected to be ‘perfect’. It’s not easy as a mother to find the balance between allowing your child’s true nature to flourish and having them behave like we think they should. We are all guilty of telling the energetic child to calm down or the sensitive one to stop crying but we need to work consciously on allowing our children to follow their own path, using their gifts and not try to instil upon them what we think that should be based on everybody else’s view of the world.
It’s time to rewrite the fairy tale and it starts with you. You are the strong, confident and capable role model for your children, you need to show them that to live ‘happily ever after’ you just need to be your true self, no hiding, no fitting in, no dependence on others (although I am all for interdependence) be who you are, follow your heart, use your gifts and I promise you will find your happily ever after!
As always I would love to hear your thoughts, have you ever thought about the stories your children watch in this way? Or has this blog got you thinking differently about them? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you and don’t forget to sign up in the sidebar to the left or at the bottom of the screen so you never miss a post!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/unephotos/6819858446/”>UNE Photos</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>