She places her jaded heart in a small begging bowl and kneels before him. He dispenses his affection like loose change – amusing himself with her look of gratitude. For a fleeting moment they both pretend that an exchange of value has taken place. She remembers a time when he wanted her with passion. She remembers a time when they all did tricks for her. She remembers who she was and the power of seduction; the power of youth, a pretty face, sexuality and vitality. She dreamed dreams of all things possible. Of course the biggest dream of all echoes through her girl-child mind “I want to be a bride”. She so vividly remembers her wedding day, it was all she ever wanted and often thinks of it as her ‘princess day’.
Daddy called her Princess as he tucked her into bed at night. She believed she was his princess and never questioned his predictions of one day becoming a beautiful woman, falling madly in love and living happily ever after.
What a joke. What a great big fat lie. Was she really so deluded? Was it bad luck, bad judgment, bad choices or is the dream for only ‘the others’. It probably never occurred to her that a Princess by definition must stay young and beautiful.
Cinderella probably started it all and it was reinforced over and over in books, movies, conversations and culture.
As a child she wondered about ‘Him’ and played dress-up games with her friends. They were all called Mrs. and prepared tea for when Mr. came home. They had bride dolls and baby dolls. They imagined and designed their future wedded bliss. He, was handsome, successful, rich and romantic.
Girls were not really expected to worry too much with things like education or finance. That was unless you were a ‘Plain Jane’. No, boys don’t like girls if they are too smart anyway. Beauty is the key – beauty is everything. Beauty is your ticket into ‘happily ever after’.
Happily ever after always had me a bit baffled. Most girls seemed to be very comfortable with the story ending at happily ever after. It nagged at me a bit – well actually it worried me quite a lot. I kind of perceived it to be a little like death. It seemed to me that when you got married your story finished. If happily ever after was so wonderful then why didn’t it become another story; an even better story?
Another thing that really confused me was that as a teenager we were all very obsessed with our looks and working our magic, but something seemed very, very strange. The married women in my town were anything but examples of happily ever after. I don’t mean to be unkind, but these women really scared me. The men were neither princes nor charming.
(I wondered about the girl who kissed the frog who became the prince. A lot of warts I would expect and probably that’s not too far from reality either.)
Well I don’t know who had warts or who had what; I was just observing and wondering. I saw men who drank too much and yelled too loud. Women in thread bare dresses and grubby little kids hanging off them. Hair in plastic curlers and clothes pegs in mouths. Daytime soaps and talkback radio. I certainly knew nothing about ‘all the riches in the land’. Enough to buy fags for the week and a punt on the pony’s maybe, but no diamonds or mink coats which were the status symbols at the time.
Things have changed a little since then and women of today are at least questioning some of these issues. Thankfully, woman now are gaining education, good jobs and independent incomes. Many, are also finding they are quite capable of looking after children on their own rather than enduring abusive relationships. To hear women talk you would think that they really have analyzed and resolved their Cinderella conflicts, but have they?
Does intellect really root out those childhood expectations? Do we still believe that a woman must be beautiful to attract and keep a mate? How much of our happiness and security depends of our youth and sexuality?
Aren’t successful, intelligent, middle aged women still secretly dreaming of ‘Him’. One marriage, two marriage, three marriage, four!
Perhaps if Cindella Part 2 had ever been written we might have discovered that Cinderella did indeed live happily ever after. She might have passed through the natural stages of life with grace and charm. She may have surrendered the things of youth easily and naturally as she evolved into a complete and competent woman within her own right. Perhaps her prince’s initial lust and fascination gave way to a deeper respect, friendship and trust that formed such a bond and deep genuine love, that they did indeed live happily ever after. Isn’t it possible that her warmth, generosity, wisdom, humour and true nature were of greater value as they both evolved?
I do believe that this could be a likely scenario. I certainly appreciate the appeal of youth, beauty and sensuality, but it is not my measure of human value. These things would probably gain my attention for about ten minutes. Now, I am not going to suggest that good looking people are dumb or vacuous, although this is often very stereotypical, it’s not right either. Being good looking does not make a person stupid anymore than being plain makes someone more interesting. We also need to accept that being wealthy is not a measure of value as a human being. Money is good and can make life on many levels a little easier, but it doesn’t make all wealthy men ideal husbands nor does it mean that lacking wealth makes a man an inferior partner.
We just need to do away with all of these unrealistic expectations and judgments and define what is true for ourselves. It is certainly easy enough to just sit for a minute or two and ask yourself why you do love the people you do. I think that your list might be very similar to mine; integrity, humour, empathy, warmth, intelligence and anything that engages or connects me to that person. I really would rather be sitting with a funny, interesting fat boy at the back of the room rather than staring up at a male stripper on stage – that’s for sure.
If we are able to get clear on what we need and want then maybe we could dismantle and reconstruct our Cinderella delusion.
Now, this is where things get really interesting. Billions and billions of dollars change hands due to clever marketing tactic cashing in on our Cinderella belief. In the extreme, women can be so convinced that beauty is the only measure of self worth that they will literally destroy themselves. Do you think I’m kidding? Warm, wonderful, valuable, clever, talented people are going to take themselves right out of the game of life. They are going to do it deliberately and willingly and I will tell you why.
Brainwashing. It is so incredibly easy to do as we have already bought into the princess belief as children. Reinforcing the idea that being beautiful makes us happy or that lack of beauty makes us undesirable is the perfect marketing formula. Powerful and effective marketing requires subtle, consistent and emotionally charged interpretation. Everywhere we look we see imagery of beauty and youth attaining success, love, romance, sex, wealth, admiration, security and happiness. Not so obvious is the underlying message that without beauty, we are not worthy nor are we capable of having these things.
Men are victimized too, but their version of self worth is tied in to money, success, power and prestige. Lives are being totally destroyed by the belief in this BS! It’s not true. It’s not even logical and it’s as clear as day, but we still believe it. Not only do we believe it; we actually promote it ourselves. The effect of this kind of marketing is that people diminish themselves to the point of total worthlessness and disappear into themselves. The really sad and pathetic motivation behind it all is simply greed and making money. And we have bought it all; the belief, the solution and the products. We allowed them to break us and then to fix us and we paid a lot of money for the privilege.
Get this – some clever-dick is going to package a jar of mud, put it in a crystal jar and go on TV and convince us that this gunk will smooth out wrinkles and give you a youthful, alluring completion. His mate, a bigger and more ambitious conman can’t believe the amount of dollars rolling in and decides to crank it up a bit. He has a magic syringe which pumps poison into your face, paralyses your expression and calls it ‘a cure for frown and smile lines’. It’s phenomenal! He makes a bundle and inspires many others to come up with all kinds gimmicks and gadgets.
Well, no one in their right mind would believe this nonsense!
That is unless it’s repeated over and over. That’s the thing with brainwashing; it needs repetition. It also helps to have testimonials; we like to know others have tried it and can confirm it works for them. Celebrities (another marketing tool) wouldn’t endorse crap if it wasn’t true would they? Beautiful celebrities (The epitome of happily ever after) show us their secrets to success:
Silicone bags inserted into breasts
Vacuums sucking out thighs
Daisy Duck lips
Acid skin peels
Plastic nose, cheeks and chin
And sew and tighten up that vagina!
You have got to be joking – no one would be fooled into doing that! Billions of bucks say that you are wrong. All it takes is to convince you that you are not okay, you are not worthy, not loveable and not ever going to be happy. And that is so easy to do because right from the start you were brainwashed into believing that love is only for the young, the beautiful and the rich. You probably don’t realize this either, but you, yes you, are a part of the propaganda and you are endorsing and promoting it.
Your ridiculous stiletto shoes which have deformed your feet and weakened your knees and ankles are a part of the game. The yo-yo dieting, binging and purging. Your outrageously expensive clothing, perfumes and cosmetics are all a part you play in perpetuating ‘The Beauty Myth’.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not opposed to people looking good. I totally agree that looking good can make us feel good. I am also aware that looking good can be attractive and alluring. BUT, it’s Not All That!
It’s the lies that I find offensive; the stupidity and the destruction that those lies perpetuate. I’m not talking about make-up covering blemishes or enhancing skin tone, I am talking about the cosmetic industry covering up true beauty. I am talking about The Cinderella complex; our own participation in maintaining these unrealistic and dangerous beliefs. Women are competing with other women in a battle of illusion; disrespecting and destroying themselves and their sisters.
This is what it all boils down to: We have been brainwashed into believing that youth and beauty equals happiness – which translates into love and security. That’s the whole Cinderella quest. We all want to love and to be loved and feel secure. What we have all been brainwashed into believing is that love and security are only available to the young, beautiful or rich.
Men haven’t escaped either; they are suffering the Prince Charming scandal as well. Money is the mark of a man. Short, fat, bald, cigar smoking millionaires dripping with young hopeful starlets – what a pathetic sight to see! But someone obviously believes it.
I’m not trying to downgrade wealth; having money is good, much better than not and ditto for beauty. The point is that we have accepted it as a measure of human value. Much worst than that though, we allow ourselves to be judged and we judge others by this yardstick. Isn’t it time that we set examples of human value by being true to who we are? Isn’t beauty really just a mask? Let’s all just peel it off and have a peek at what’s inside.
Every age has its own beauty. In many cultures the elders are the wise and respected members of the community. Or more succinctly the most loved and honoured. Isn’t it time we all took a more realistic look at these ideals and worked towards reshaping and reassessing our values? It’s time for Prince Charming to show some integrity. Tonight as you hot wax your legs, think of me; curled up on the lounge wearing pajamas and Ugg boots, laughing, talking and loving my old man. Heh, I’m no Cinderella myself!