Last summer, my good friends at Bazaar Girls Yarn & Fibre Emporium approached me about helping them sponsor Key City Public Theatre’s December production of Cinderella. Being a fan of Bazaar Girls as well as KCPT, I saw this as an opportunity to support two of my favorite local organizations.
There was just one problem: Cinderella?
Cinderella bugs me for multiple reasons. First, there’s that whole handsome prince thing. I worry about little girls internalizing the message that we need a prince to rescue us. Love is a nice thing to have in our lives, but we are not “less than” if we don’t have it.
Second, I can attest that the myth of the wicked stepmother has permeated our culture. Nine years ago, as a new stepmother, trying to support two kids through the painful divorce of their parents, I often found myself suspected (even by therapists) as part of the problem. It’s not easy to come in to a new family, with its shared memories, experiences, and culture, and those early years were tough enough without the extra baggage the wicked stepmother stereotype provides.
Still, seeing KCPT’s production, which is bust-a-gut funny, I feel good about my decision to sponsor the show.
Gosh darn it, when Cinderella’s slipper fits, and wins the prince, we were all crying. No matter the message, we love her and want her to win. Cinderella is that hard luck, hard-working young woman who just needs a little help. We are swept up in the story because we can relate to her in some way. If she ends up happy, there’s hope for the rest of us, too.
The fairy godmother, in my view, is an older and wiser version of Cinderella. She has the empathy of someone who has been there and is grateful enough for her own life to want to pay it forward. We women could learn from this, lifting each other up and supporting each other’s dreams. We also — and I can’t stress this enough — be our own fairy godmothers. Watching the production, making a public debut as a sponsor, I realized I need to do more to finish my books and promote them properly. I sometimes work harder for others than I do for myself, and that has to change.
The prince, in my view, is whatever our dream come true is. Back in the day, all a girl could hope for was to marry well. These days, we can have different dreams. We can have love, but we can also have careers and aspirations. I suspect that Cinderella, in her happily ever after, would want to work to better conditions in the kingdom.
In the end, Cinderella is gracious and forgiving to her stepmother and stepsisters. Perhaps we, too, can forgive the parts of us that are selfish and cruel. When we do that, we can find our own royalty.