Cinderella and the Evil Stepmother Stigma

Cinderella-2015-Movie-Sophie-McShera-Cate-Blanchett-Holliday-Grainger

My daughters and I had a much-needed girl’s day on Friday. I took the day off, treating them to breakfast, a movie, and a trip to the bookstore and antique store. All three of us wanted to see the new Disney version of Cinderella. It has always been one of our favorites, and all three of us love fairy tales. We actually enjoy the darker original versions, which if you are unfamiliar with the original version of Cinderella, check it out! One step-sister cuts off her toes to fit into the shoe and the other part of her heel, at their mother’s bidding.

We were excited to see the somewhat grown-up version of this classic fairy tale. The best thing about seeing movies with older children is the ability to discuss movies. We enjoyed the movie overall. It was well-acted, the effects were visually stunning, and just like all Disney movies I was transported back into a child-like state of wonder where magic is possible and wishes come true.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about the movie and I hoped before seeing this remake Disney would tone them down a bit. The first was of course the obvious fairy-tale prince image. I feel Disney has made some progress over the years with Brave, Frozen, and Frog Princess, showing that women can be their own people and don’t necessarily need a man to be successful and fulfilled in life. I want my daughters to grow up believing they are enough without a man. I remodel antique trunks (which involves the use of power tools), write, photograph abandoned houses and buildings (sometimes alone), and I try to teach my daughters by example that a woman can do almost everything a man can do, if she so desires. A man is supposed to be a partner that enhances you – not someone you need. They did portray Ella as a kind female character, but the story was essentially centered around her meeting and keeping the prince. The prince fell in love with her because she was courageous and kind-hearted, when the other women in the movie (the step-sisters) were mostly concerned with themselves and in landing a rich husband. In this regard I suppose they have made progress. I don’t want my daughters sitting around waiting for their prince to come. I want them to go out into the world and make their own dreams come true, with or without their prince.

Evil Stepmother

My second issue with the movie is they portray the stepmother and step-sisters as evil villains. Step-parents have worked so hard over the years to kick this stereotype to the curb. Movies like Cinderella, Snow White, and Enchanted send children the message at a young age that if a parent remarries, the new husband or wife will automatically be the child’s enemy. Not to mention, if the ex-husband or wife is the least bit negative about their ex and the new spouse, this will just reiterate the evil step-parent image for the child. I think there were ways they could have redone this movie and toned down the evil step-mom image. The stepmother was portrayed as a jealous, greedy, cold woman who only marries Ella’s father for his money and estate. Jealous of her new husband’s past relationship with his late wife, and his current relationship with his beautiful daughter, she makes Ella’s life as difficult as possible.

One movie released recently I felt did a great job of portraying blended families in a more positive light was Blended, with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Blended Trailer

How do you feel movies portray blended families? Do you think the way the media depicts us has a direct effect on the way our children see us?

Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of twelve and fifteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish is the owner and founder of Family Fusion Community, and Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com,  www.bigblendedfamily.com, and, www.herviewfromhome.com. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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2 thoughts on “Cinderella and the Evil Stepmother Stigma

  1. I so agree with you, Trish. The “evil stepmother” concept just needs to go away. One of the reasons I wrote my book is to eradicate this notion of evil stepmothers, and, now, here we go again with a remake of Cinderella. Really? Do we really need this? Although, one stepmom commented on the remake saying that at least her step kids will get to see how lucky they are to have her as a stepmom. It could be worse! Lol

    My other complaint is that there no TV shows depicting realistic blended families and there are so few movies about blended families. I did appreciate the realistic portrayal of the relationship of Drew Barrymore’s character with Adam Sandler’s kids, and vice versa in the movie Blended. Overall, the movie was a little weak, but, hey, at least they showed blended families! I’d love to see more of this in the near future. There are over 14 million stepmoms in the United States and the majority of us care about our stepchildren and want to do what’s best. So, couldn’t we use some support and encouragement? I say, “Yes!” 🙂

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