Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fairy Godmothers of the World Unite!

I have a confession to make, I really hate Cinderella.  I don't like the story line or the character.  As a child, it annoyed me that poor little Cinderella was such a goody-two-shoes but never had the gumption to get herself out of what was clearly an untenable situation.  I always suspected she was a whiny little brat who was seriously lacking in the determination department and thus I had a hard time scraping together too much compassion for her.  Why did she put up with her evil step-sisters?  Caught in a similar situation, I imagined that I would find some insidious means of terrorizing the bullies so they would leave me alone.  What can I say ... I have a cruel and vengeful side and have never taken well to being victimized, even at a young age.

(And if you don't believe me, ask my Mum.  She loves retelling the story of Choppy, our pet Rooster, who had the audacity to peck my knee when I was a toddler.  Let's just say Choppy was missing a few tail feathers by the time I was done with him.) 

The story, however, does have some redeeming elements.  The mice, for example, were always main characters in my mind.  Forget Prince Charming, who looked to me like he had spent a suspicious amount of time grooming his hair into that perfect pompadour, in my opinion the mice were the real heroes of the story.  I delighted in the mice.  And if I was going to identify with anyone in the story?  I have to say that I always loved the Fairy Godmother.  Now here was a character who was making things happen!   She had power!  She had wisdom!  She had a magic wand!  Sparkling glitter followed her every move!  This was my kind of woman!

The Disney version of the Fairy Godmother has never done too much for me.  I mean, with all that power, why on earth did she look so frumpy?  Given her powers, I would definitely have used that wand to transform myself into a svelte and stunning beauty and find myself some better clothes.  I've always leaned towards other versions of the story where the FGM is a gorgeous blonde, wearing a diaphanous gown, preferably with a nice set of iridescent wings.   Or like Julie Andrew's version of the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, all satiny and blue, with her hair swept back in a sophisticated chignon.

(What's up with the blue, by the way?  Anyone know why FGMs, even in the case of Disney's chubby old lady character, all seem to wear blue?  Is this a subtle Madonna reference?)

So, with my fascination for FGM's, it should not surprise you that I was quite thrilled 8 years ago when my brother and his wife asked me to be the godmother for my newly born niece.  I was excited!  But I was also a little nervous.  I mean, the thing is, I'm not even Catholic!  And I've never had a godmother myself, so I have no role models, no idea what the godmother is supposed to do, how they're supposed to act, what their responsibilities are!

As a result, in finding my way through the godmother/goddaughter journey, rather than relying on religious examples, I've leaned heavily on the extraordinarily academic source of the FGM's found in many fairy tales.  Granted I don't wander around wearing long blue gowns, with a tin-foil wrapped paper towel tube in hand (not that I haven't considered this, of course), but I do try to use my "godmother" role as a way to make my goddaughter's life a little bit easier, and hope in the future, as she grows older, to have the opportunity to teach her to make her own happy endings.

While it may sound great to have a "Prince Charming" swoop down and rescue you from your ashy existence, I've learned throughout the years, that I'd much rather have a man who is my equal partner, standing by my side, not reaching down to my "lowly state."  My husband does not complete me - he compliments me in my personal journey towards completion.  My husband doesn't kiss me so I will come alive - he kisses because I am already alive, and vibrant, and mistress of my own destiny.  I'm not waiting around for some lame glass slipper to tell me what I already know - I am a princess in my own right, thank-you very much.  I happen to think that my husband is the most wonderful man in the world, but only Jesus saves.

Today my goddaughter had her First Communion.   Here she is, waiting with the rest of her class before formally entering the church.

Isn't she beautiful?  And I didn't need to wave any magic wand to help her.  All she needs is a few cute mice and a pumpkin, and I bet she will find her own happy ever after.


  1. I love the lighting of this photo! wow.. it gives them almost an angelic glow. really cool, considering the occasion.

    I always liked the story of Cinderella, in that she didn't have to lower herself to their tactics, in order to win. She put her nose to the grindstone, no complaining.. and worked hard .. the good won out. Even in the face of (fairytale) real adversity.. she stuck to her moral law. There's a real message there I think.. one that I've always appreciated... but I appreciate your view too.

    You'd be an amazing GM. Your niece is blessed.

  2. I wanted to be Cinderella in a school play when I was in Kindergarten. Not so much because I liked Cinderella but because I enjoyed being a STAR!

    The teacher gave the role to another girl because she was blonde and beautiful but whose acting abilities were evidently not half as good as mine. Feeling that the casting was a bit unfair, I asked the teacher "How come?" and she said that anybody can be Cinderella but the step-sister is a more challenging role that required more talent.

    Jealousy got the better of me on the day of the play when I just wore a long dress whereas the teacher had made a lovely crepe dress for Cinderella...totally pissed me off so I got a bit carried away in the bossing her around scene and tore the whole thing off onstage so that poor poor cinderella ended up with just some torn bits of crepe hanging off some droopy elastic...

    I got in such trouble both at school and at home (my father has all of this on film) regardless of insisting that I was not really bashing, biting, pinching her but just playing my "role".

    I've wanted nothing to do with Cinderella since then...Give me Ariel any day!

    Loved your post by the way...your goddaughter looks lovely! Nice photo.

  3. Oh Purple Cow, I can just imagine that scene perfectly! Too funny!!! Must make for some funny family reunions when that video gets replayed! :D

    I do like Ariel, but I'm most partial to The Paperbag Princess myself.

  4. Helen, the photo is perfect. *perfect!*

    Wish i could've been inspired enough to think of looking for a godmother for my child... she really needed someone like you :)



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