Monday, June 21, 2010

Can we ban the Ugly Duckling?

I was curled up on the sofa watching Sleeping Beauty (it's been one of those days)   and I started thinking about fairy tales in general.   I have this thick volume of them from when I was a kid  called "Best Loved Folk Tales of the World".    I loved that book, it had so many different versions of some of the classic fairy tales (That's right, Disney did not create half the stories we might think they did)  but not once in there do we have the Ugly Duckling. 

Actually, one of my favourites in that book is the Girl who Married the Dead  about a beautiful but stupid girl who falls in love with a ghost and has to live most the time at night, and when she has her baby the baby is half human only.  

The Ugly Duckling is a bad idea.  Well, a bad idea to be telling little girls anyway, great story to tell little boys but a bad one to tell little girls.

We all know the plot of the Ugly Duckling;  egg hatches and the mother duck is shocked to see that the new baby is not the same as her other ones, but she loves her anyway and keeps reminding the little duckling that it will all be fine in time and to keep the faith. Then the little duckling grows up to be a very graceful sensual swan:  Yes, I realize that the moral of the story is suppose to be about how being different can be a blessing in disguise.

Only thing is, when you're not beautiful a story like that only does more damage to you're self esteem when you grow up.  I can not tell you how bloody often I was told this story by adults when I was growing up.   I was never told Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or even Beauty and the Beast,  no, I was told time after time after time  about the Ugly Duckling.  As if by telling me this bloody story it would magic(k)ally  make it true.  I resent this story. 

But by all means tell the men in your life this story, maybe it will change the way they look at the world,  but stop telling the women in your life this story  cause it might not lead anywhere but heartbreak.