Ten reasons why I love fairy tales, in no particular order.
- They age well. There have been many times in my adult life where I’ve found new meaning and new comfort in a well worn fairy tale. Themes pop out that were hidden. All at once, I see the compassion and complexity in a villain. Take the witch in the story of Rapunzel. What if demanding to raise the unborn child (after the husband is caught stealing Campanula rapunculus—equivalent to spinach and radishes—for his pregnant wife) was not a punishment but a mercy? Things have to be pretty dire if a little family can’t afford some spinach. And what if this wasn’t the first child the family was welcoming into their cottage? What if there were half a dozen other children already? I wonder.
- The happily ever after. Life is meaninglessly cruel sometimes. And hard. And exhausting. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it’s everything… everywhere… all at once (if you could read that last bit with the same delivery as Harrison Ford presenting at the Oscars, that would be awesome. Also did you see the film? Did you like it? I think that movie might have the most beautiful/romantic line I’ve ever encountered in a film). An HEA is life affirming. I cherish them.
- The memorable side characters. Cinderella is a timeless tale, but I love seeing how the fairy godmother is portrayed in every iteration. Because she/he/they is an awesome character. The fact that fairy godmother often vibes with matriarch architypes just makes me that much happier. I aspire to be a badass matriarch in my golden years. I’m super interested in representations of my future.
- Fairy tales have their priorities straight. Relationships are at the center of every story. Not special effects, intricate fight sequences, verbose descriptions, self-indulgent pandering to niche audiences. Those are my kind of stories.
- Rag to riches. I can rattle off a few fairy tales that teach us that appearances are changeable. Fortunes too. As I often look incredibly scruffy and bedraggled, this is a comfort. Sure, I may look like a zombie mommy now, but given the chance I can clean up real nice.
- Magic. Fairy tales play around with powers that we don’t see, systems we don’t understand, and metaphors that matter. Often the magic exists, but is never explained. Why? What is magic? What is this story saying about what I can control vs. what I can’t? I love it so!
- Fellas that fall hard. I love the boys who become intrigued in an instant. I love imagining the banter in the scenes that follow. I guess I’m a sucker for instant attraction. Especially when it happens to the fella first. Feels like a more equitable power dynamic, but I digress.
- They are old. These are old stories, with old settings. To me, they feel like literary old-growth forests.
- Fairy tales give voice to creatures we don’t often listen too. Puss in Boots features a talking cat. The Frog Prince has a talking frog. That’s fun, and it’s wonderful to acknowledge that all living creatures do in fact communicate with us and the natural world. But what about the other human characters? The impoverished ones. The female ones. The very young. The very old. The ones who sound a little peculiar. I appreciate that the heroes/heroines in fairy tales are the unlikely ones, often the ones our modern society dismisses.
- Fairy tales are sharable. I can share fairy tales with my daughter or son. I can share fairy tales with my little nieces and nephews. I can share fairy tales with my English professor sister or filmmaker BIL. I can enjoy an iteration with my husband. I can read one of my aunt’s historical romances and see the fairy tale influence. These stories were designed to be shared, told and retold. They are everywhere in our entertainment and culture, and we’re all the better for it.
Why do you love fairy tales?