Last night, I was watching the new Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD, and thinking about how beautiful the film looks restored (watch a clip below), how wonderful it is that the extras give individual animators their due, and how, as my soon-to-be-born niece’s self-appointed entertainment director, I will obviously be showing her this long before Buffy. Suddenly I was noticing things that I hadn’t before: The first gift the good fairies bestow upon the baby Princess Aurora is beauty, and she is engaged at 16.
I don’t want to overreact, but I also don’t want to increase the odds that I’ll see my niece on The Bachelor in 2028 talking about how every girl grows up wanting to be a princess. (I’ll still love her if that happens; I’ll just make her blog about it and link to this post.) So tell me: How do you handle classic fairy tales with girls? Do you say nothing because they’re too young to read between the lines? Or, do these movies, which I hear kids watch over and over again, have enough of an impact that you need to say something like, “The three fairies were clearly bestowing their gifts in reverse order of importance. Beauty is least important, so Aurora received it first. The gift of song, which you’ll learn all about on that karaoke machine I’m getting you, is of some importance, so she received it second. Education, the most important gift of all, would have been given to Aurora last had the fairies not needed to use their final present to save the princess from her death sentence. Also, because the prince was Aurora’s true love, he agreed when she suggested off-screen that they have a long engagement so that she could explore the world outside the forest she’d been held captive in for 16 years.”
Seriously, what do you do?