You must remember this line……
“Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who’s the Fairest of them all? “
Yep….it’s the classic line from that timeless fairy tale, Snow White.
We all know the story – the wicked step- mother asks the magic mirror everyday if she’s the most beautiful woman around and is shocked; actually outraged one day, to find out that she’s got competition.
It seems her stepdaughter, Snow White, is more beautiful than she. And so the plan begins. She must eliminate the competition, permanently.
The step- mother hires a hunter to kill Snow White but in the end, the hunter can’t do it. He leaves Snow White in the forest much to the delight of seven little men – a questionable situation…..
When the step- mother hears that Snow White is not dead, she takes matters into her own hands. Posing as an old woman, she tricks Snow White into eating the famous poison apple.
And so the story goes – A prince gets wind of this fair maiden lying asleep in the forest, rides out on his horse to check her out, is captivated by her beauty, and cannot possibly live without her. He kisses her, she comes to and they live happily ever after!
As a little girl, I loved these fairy tales. But as an adult woman & parent, I ask myself “where’s the fair in fairy tales”.
Let’s look at this for a moment. What are the lessons we learned from Snow White?
Women are jealous of each other’s looks?
Older women especially resent the beauty of younger women?
The ONLY condition necessary for a prince to fall in love with a maiden is that she’s beautiful?
Beauty is the ticket to being rescued by a good looking guy and living “happily ever after”?
Women need someone to rescue them?
It doesn’t matter if you have the same interests, have a good sense of humour or if you are fun to hang out with. As long as you are beautiful, you will get the guy?
It doesn’t matter if you are passed out, in a coma, or even conscious?
In order to get the girl, you must be fearless, strong & slay dragons?
Although fairy tales bear little resemblance to real life, we still absorbed the lessons…….and so might our children.
So tell me – have you ever looked in the mirror only to be less than satisfied with what you see?
If so, then you are in good company…
I think most of us have wished from time to time that the image staring back at us could be altered in some way.
We don’t have to look very far to understand why.
The messages around beauty have been hammered into us from the earliest of memories. From fairy tales, to Barbie dolls to Hollywood movies, the message consistently tells us that the way to “happily ever after” is to be beautiful.
Understanding it is one thing but you might be saying, “Ok…I get that logically but what do I do when my emotions take over…?”
Well, first of all, we have to realize that the mirror is only a day-to-day snapshot of what we look like on the outside. The reflected image has nothing to do with “WHO” we are as people.
The mirror can’t tell you how great a friend you are, or how understanding and compassionate you are. The mirror can’t tell you how amazing you are at baking cookies or planning parties. The mirror can’t tell you how loving you are or how your friends can rely on you no matter what. The mirror doesn’t reflect your dreams and has nothing to do with happily ever after!
Secondly, it’s interesting to note that the image staring back at us is all about perception.
The famous french author, Anais Nin once said, “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are”.
Translated, she suggests our perception of how we see our hair, skin, body size etc changes when our feelings and moods change.
So, if we are having a particularly off moment, the mirror can reflect harsh judgment and criticism of our body. We might focus in on particular body parts, closely analyzing; looking for flaws.
Alternately, if we’re feeling positive, well rested & happy, the mirror reflects our good feelings.
What we see in the mirror completely depends on how we are feeling in any given moment.
Does that sound like a “magic mirror” to you? Maybe.
The recurring theme in fairy tales has created generations of girls & boys who believe that the way to “happily ever after” is through our beauty and/or performance.
As adult women & mothers, we have the power & ability to change those themes for the next generation. Our children have a unique opportunity to grow up feeling empowered because of WHO they are, not what they look like. And it starts with us.
Here’s some “food for thought”….
Is there a “fairy tale” princess you most relate to?
How did that character influence your thoughts growing up?
Are you still affected today)?
What follows “happily ever after”?
Are these just stories or are they real messages that you want to change for your children?
Does the magic mirror define who you are?
Here’s an idea – Find an old tube of lipstick & write yourself the most empowering message ever on your mirror! It can be a daily reminder of how amazing you really are! You may even find your children asking what it says.
Next time you look into that mirror, smile because you ARE beautiful inside and out and there’s no reflection in the world that can tell you WHO you are!
Disordered Eating Consultant/Coach
Facilitator – Self Esteem/Self Acceptance Workshops for Youth
168 Third Ave.