Tell A Fairy Tale Day with Sandie Docker
‘Tell a Fairy Tale day’ is on February 26th. In a modern world of female empowerment and striving for gender equally, it isn’t surprising to find people who are quick to denounce Fairy Tales as archaic stories that go against everything we should be teaching our daughters about what to expect out of life. And I get it. I have a thirteen year old daughter and I do not want her to wait for a man to ‘rescue’ her, or for her to think the only value a woman can have is as a ‘princess’, or that she has to be pretty with the voice of an angel and long golden locks of hair, for a guy to be interested in her. No way.
And while Fairy Tales get a bad wrap for perpetuating those ideals, in the spirit of ‘tell a Fairy Tale day’, I’d like to take a more positive look at these age-old fables.
More modern Fairy Tales are changing. You only have to watch Tangled to see an example of a girl running carefree through fields barefoot, protecting herself from harm as she wields a frying pan with a hefty hit, and cutting off her hair in a reverse rescue where she saves the man in distress. And while you could argue that more traditional Fairy Tales do set us up to believe in an idealised version of Prince Charming, who let’s face it, doesn’t actually exist, there is so much more to a Fairy Tale than pretty dresses, swooning princesses and coveted tiaras.
Look deeper. Fairy Tales teach us three very valuable lessons.
At their heart, Fairy Tales are about good triumphing over evil. And that is a belief that I definitely want to instill in my daughter – that ultimately good will win out and evil will fall; that with enough determination, whether you’re the prince, the princess, or the sidekick, you will succeed.
They are also about love. And whether we like it or not, love is something we all need, all want. And if we look beyond the ‘damsel in distress’ waiting to be rescued by the Prince, and go deeper, we can see so much more love in Fairy Tales. The seven little men who take in a stranger and adopt her as part of their family; the mice and woodland creatures who befriend a lonely wretched girl when her stepmother takes over; the bond between a brother and sister that enables them to free themselves from the clutches of a witch. What Fairy Tales teach us, is that with love in your corner, you’re going to be alright.
But what, I hear you ask, about the fact that happily ever after isn’t reality – that life doesn’t stop testing us – ever – that even if we do find love with the person of our dreams, skipping through the tulips hand in hand into the sunset isn’t exactly how every day will be thereafter? True. But, go deeper again and ask what is at the centre of the concept of happily ever after. The answer is the most powerful emotion there is. Hope. That no matter what we have to endure – being sent out into the woods and forced to survive wild animals and exile from our kingdom, being locked in a tower by an evil old hag, having our home taken away from us by someone who is supposed to care about us – if we hang on to hope; if we believe in happily ever after, as a concept rather than an absolute truth; if we trust in the right friends, our real life fairy god mothers and woodland creatures; if we believe in love – then we can survive.
Yes, when my daughter was 5 she wanted to be a mermaid princess. Did I worry about that? Did I go into a panic and tear up her picture books and throw out her Rapunzel doll, feeling like I’d failed her in this modern world? No. Because I knew the other lessons she learned from those Fairy Tales – determination, love, hope – would be what would stay with her. Today she battles a life threatening medical condition – her ‘evil queen’ – with a bravery and determination second to none. She is a kind and loving soul toward everyone – princes, sidekicks, woodland creatures alike. And her ambition is to become a medical researcher, to find a cure, to be the rescuer, if you will – to seek out her own happily ever after through hope.
These stories may present us with a fantasized version of life, but they hold lessons that can stay with us forever, if we only choose to believe in the Fairy Tale.
Sandie’s latest novel is The Cottage at Rosella Cove
Why had the house stayed empty so long? Why had it never been sold?
Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the
first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.
Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.
Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove. He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.
Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.