In Defense of Cinderella
Written by Cara Carlson on November 12, 2021
For many Gen-Z girls, Cinderella was our favorite Disney princess growing up. She wore the prettiest dress, had her own fairy godmother, and let’s not forget about the gorgeous royal husband. Cinderella is arguably one of the most iconic fairytales of all time–and yet, in recent years, Miss Cinderella has found herself under fire for not doing anything in her own story except letting herself be saved by the prince–and by her fairy godmother. And by the mice. I mean, she’s about as passive a princess as you can get, right?
Spoiler alert: That is not right.
Since Cinderella hit the theaters, several more badass Princesses have joined the Disney family–Mulan, Merida, and Moana, to name a few (side note: why so many “M” names?). When compared to these Princesses, who not only save themselves but those around them, Cinderella may seem more passive, and maybe even helpless–but that could not be further from the truth. Cinderella may not cross the sea to restore the heart of Maui and save her kingdom, but she does save herself. Cinderella is the hero of her own story, not Prince Charming. Let’s break it down.
First, let’s take a look at what Disney themselves have to say about Cinderella:
“Cinderella knows that kindness is magic that can transform the world, so she is warm and sincere with everyone she meets. Whether it’s the smallest mouse or the King himself, she treats everyone with equal respect. She believes in herself and is determined to overcome the adversity she faces. Despite her circumstances, Cinderella finds the courage to be kind, because she knows that kindness conquers all.” (via princess.disney.com/cinderella)
They say that Cinderella “believes in herself and is determined to overcome the adversity she faces.” Although she has no real physical power to escape or stop her evil step-family, she has protected herself against them mentally through her belief in herself. She never stops dreaming, despite how hard things may get, and in this way, we can see how exactly Cinderella has saved herself–even if she never married the prince and physically escaped her family, she had already made the choice to stay happy in the face of adversity: thus saving her spirit and herself.
Cinderella also powers her Fairy Godmother’s magic through her hopefulness and pureness of heart. As mentioned in the movie, the only reason the Fairy Godmother shows up for Cinderella as she cries in the garden is because of Cinderella’s faith. In the Fairy Godmother’s own words, “If you’d lost all your faith, I couldn’t be here. And here I am!” Her Fairy Godmother even comforts her as she cries and assures her that all is not lost–which is basically Cinderella being kind to and comforting herself, if you want to think about it that way. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother is essentially the personification of all of Cinderella’s best traits–her kindness, her determination, her hopefulness.
Let’s also not forget one VERY important note in the whole “Cinderella saves herself” argument–she does NOT go to the ball in order to meet the prince or try to become his wife. In fact, she doesn’t even realize he was the one she danced with all night. Rewatch the movie if you don’t believe me! Cinderella goes to the ball to have one night for herself, and the prince notices her and approaches her. She doesn’t find out until the next day when the Duke knocks on the door with the glass slipper that she’d been dancing with the prince all along. Personally, I believe the whole reason the prince notices her and falls for her is because of her internal beauty shining outward, but I’m definitely biased, so, draw your own conclusions. But it is true that she was the only maiden at the whole ball–probably in the entire kingdom–that wasn’t concerned with trying to get the prince, and I think that is the whole reason he takes special notice of her in the first place.
So, anyways, that is my argument in defense of Cinderella. Actually, my argument in its entirety is much longer, but I will save the rest for another time. For now, let’s just all agree that Prince Charming is NOT the hero in this story–Cinderella is her OWN Prince Charming.
And they lived happily ever after.