Cinderella is a famous Disney children’s movie. The movie tells a story of a young maiden who is trapped with awful family members, but eventually escapes into royalty. As a little girl, Cinderella was one of my favorite movies. Prior to my adulthood, I had always thought Cinderella was a fairytale movie, and I never thought too much into which messages the film was trying to convey. Looking back now as an adult, I have realized that there is much more to the movie than what I previously assumed.
Throughout the movie, Cinderella is continuously trying to make herself more presentable. She feels like she cannot go to the ball unless she has a beautiful dress. She spends hours sewing and creating a dress so she will be able to go to the ball like all of the other young girls in the kingdom. Once she finishes the gown, her stepsisters rip it apart to shreds. Cinderella feels like she is forbidden to go to the ball now. Why can’t she go as she is? She knows the prince wouldn’t notice her if that were the case. Eventually, her fairy godmother creates a beautiful gown, gorgeous shoes, and a glamourous carriage to drive her to the ball and back. However, Fairy Godmother’s magic will eventually expire, so Cinderella has to be back home by midnight. When she is with the prince in her “costume,” she feels beautiful and attracts the attention of a young, handsome, rich, and charming prince. She becomes so embarrassed at the thought of Prince Charming seeing her in her raged clothes, so she runs away from him before the clock strikes twelve. Cinderella’s actions might send a negative message to children: you have to make yourself into somebody who looks more beautiful than everybody else in order to find your true love. If young girls feel like they can’t be themselves to find love, they will try and transform themselves into what society says is appropriate or acceptable. When looking through a critical lens, is Cinderella implying that if a woman is beautiful enough, she might be able to escape her terrible living conditions by getting a wealthy man to fall for her?
By contrast, the movie sends a positive message to young children in regards to having a happy life in the end. Cinderella only has her evil stepmother and stepsister as role models since she lost her father when she was very young. Her so called “family” turns Cinderella into a maid to do their chores while they treat her with much less respect than she deserves. Eventually, after many personal trials, Cinderella finds her true love and escapes the horrible living conditions she was originally trapped in. Cinderella leaves her less-than-acceptable lifestyle behind as she proceeds to live a glamourous life as a princess. Cinderella represents a child with an undesirable lifestyle and upbringing. The positive message the movie sends is that just because a girl has a horrible childhood does not mean her life cannot be turned around.
When comparing the two implied theses, the one that children tend to recognize the most is the positive one. Disney was certainly not trying to imply that it is necessary to be beautiful to have a successful life, but that overcoming obstacles can lead to a happy ending. When watching a movie, children do not overthink what is being told on the screen. They watch Cinderella and think about the fairytale and how lucky Cinderella is to become a princess. Young girls, including myself as a child, want to grow up to be just like her. However, children understand that becoming a princess is not as easy as in Cinderella’s case. To them, Cinderella is just a fun fairytale to watch with their other princess friends. As an adult, it is easy to criticize the film and argue that children shouldn’t be given these horrible messages, but in reality, children don’t read that much into the movie.