(Image from Disney Images)
There is a blog article floating around the internet today filled with reasons why it may not be a good idea to take our daughters to see the new Cinderella. When I first read the article, I found myself nodding in agreement with a few of her points. We have a blended family, I don’t like to sensationalize bad attitudes and I shy away from things that may lead my daughters to begin to express some kind of body image issues. But, I wasn’t convinced that this particular movie fell into those categories, and after hearing this mom admit that her opinion was based solely on the preview, and talking with a few other moms who had made the choice to take their daughters to see the actual movie, we went ahead with our plans.
And I am so glad that we did. The movie was fantastic, and here is my rebuttal to those original 7 ideas….
1.In a world where Disney Channel characters seem to be void of parents completely, Cinderella’s relationship with her parents in the early scenes of the film was heart warming. She adores both her mother and her father, strives to please them and takes their advice to heart long after their death. And while, yes, their deaths are both somewhat sudden and sad, the relationships she had with them and the way she overcame the tragedy of losing them both in different ways shapes a lot of her personality. Our world is filled with things that happen outside of our control. These things can hurt us in various ways, and we wish that they wouldn’t happen, but they do. It didn’t hurt my girls in anyway to witness this happening to a character they loved so much before we even arrived in the theater, but was an example of overcoming hardships and the importance of making each moment count. And while this lesson was far above the heads of my two middle children, it didn’t cause them any distress or change their view on life and death, and the display of emotions and grief was age appropriate and a wonderful example for my almost 9 year old.
2. Are the step sisters mean? Of course they are! But the meanness displayed by the stepsisters in the movie is far more subtle that even I expected. The writers did a fantastic job in showcasing their entire self centered personalities in the movie, instead of just having them sling names and inflict hurt on Cinderella. Their behavior doesn’t serve to teach young girls how to be mean, or even what to expect from others, but instead it stands to contrast the behavior of our beloved Cinderella. The stepsisters are arguably as beautiful as Lily James’ Cinderella, but by the end of the movie they are ugly by comparison because of their actions, which I believe can speak volumes to our girls.
3. I don’t know that this movie can serve to be a representation of all step or blended families. We are a blended family, complete with step parents. Never once have my daughters compared our situation to the animated Cinderella in all the years of our blending, and I don’t anticipate that Cate Blanchett’s role will inflict any harm on the relationships in our family after seeing this version. Cinderella’s step mother isn’t mean because she is a step mother, but because she is a hurting woman who has experienced hardships of her own and is jealous of Cinderella. Her role is again set to serve as a stark comparison to Cinderella’s nature, showcasing her ability to forgive and be kind in all situations, and that she is not defined by the opinions of others. Furthermore, Cinderella’s stepmothers actions are thwarted in the end and don’t end up hurting anyone but herself. And while this realization is far beyond the grasp of my almost 4 year old, Cinderella’s step mother is a character of no comparison to any of our family mothers, nor is she of comparison to any other moms that we know.
4. Passivity may be a character quality of Cinderella, but it certainly doesn’t define her. In fact, Disney does an excellent job in displaying how many choices she makes for herself and her reasoning behind them. She isn’t waiting to be rescued, but sticks it out in the home that her parents loved so much because she does it in remembrance of her parents. In this live action version, the writers are able to build out her story far more to showcase how she chooses to care for the house instead of letting it fall in ruins. Overtime, her stepfamily begins to expect her to do the cooking, cleaning and care taking because she assumed the role so seamlessly upon the death of her father, eventually treating her the way that one with their selfish attitude would treat a house staff member. And while we can’t argue that she is overworked, she doesn’t seem to be particularly forced into staying and caring for her stepmother and stepsisters. She wants to be in the home where her parents lived and make sure that their memory stays vibrant within those walls, until she meets the prince and begins to see the possibility of a different future. Her quiet determination, courage and kindness are character qualities that radiate from her, and qualities that I would love my daughters to exude.
5. Okay – so Lily James’ waistline may be slightly smaller than what might be considered realistic. But, this is a Disney movie. If, physical appearance is a major concern, there is a scene in which the stepsisters are shown getting ready, and the corsets are shown, as well as the amount of strength that it takes to get a corset tied as tight as needed to get a waist that small. For an older girl, where body image may come into play, what a wonderful world of discussion of dress in earlier time periods this would open up. Corsets were real things that women were expected to wear, and there is an entire history lesson on the topic you could find by just opening google. But, body image and physical beauty is discussed far less in the movie than inward beauty. By the end of the movie, the viewer is left convinced that Cinderella is far more beautiful because of her kindness and ability to forgive, than by any measure of outward beauty.
6. The sheer fact that there are real people in the movie lends itself to being a slightly more mature movie, but not so mature that my two middle children didn’t enjoy it, and not so mature that I would shield them from it. The mice are present, though they do not sing, but they showcase Cinderella’s appreciation for even the smallest of creatures. Her ability to communicate so directly with animals is not because she can audibly understand them, but because she cares deeply for them and observes their needs. The subject matter is still the same, the costuming, as well as the dancing at the ball, are both modest in nature and Cinderella doesn’t even kiss her love interest until they are married.
7. While I agree that I don’t necessarily want my girls to expect that a woman might meet her forever love and marry him a few days later, I am not bothered by the idea of prince charming. In a time period where courting and arranged marriages were expected, Cinderella and her Prince meet and spend time together on more than one occasion where they can get to know each other. They are clear about being drawn to each other’s nature and personality, and the romantic notion that he waited for her for a few months and searched for her is a notion that I am okay with. I want my girls to grow up believing that there is a special man out there for them, that they will become intrigued with his nature and personality, that they should expect him to wait for her, fight for her and take care of her. Princes look different these days, but I don’t believe that my girls need to believe that dating numerous men or getting to know someone for years is necessary. In a culture where living together is more commonplace than getting married, I am perfectly fine with my young daughters daydreaming and waiting for their own version of a prince.
All in all, I am very glad that we took our girls to see this version of Cinderella. I thought that the writers did a fantastic job at creating a movie than can be intriguing and wonderful to girls of all ages. If you are considering taking your daughter to see this, I would say go for it. If you are still uncertain mama, then I would suggest you see it yourself first but I don’t think that you will be disappointed.