The CelebYouth study is about the role of celebrity stories in structuring young people’s aspirations. Given the fantasy elements in these tales, perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when fairy tales and superheroes came up as our participants asked whether Cinderella, Beauty Belle and Batman were celebrities. In this guest blog post, Sir George Monoux College student, Mahreen Safdar, talks about the significance of fairy tales in her own life.
‘Once upon a Time…’ That sentence was overused by me whenever I used to write my stories set in the past, I would even use it verbally at times, in my life. ‘Happily ever afters’: I also thought they existed. But throughout my life as I was growing up, I realised that life isn’t as simple as fairy tales, real experiences don’t start off with ‘once upon a times’ and neither do they finish with ‘happily ever afters’.
Young children up to the age 13 in my generation (I am currently 17 years old), never knew problems of life and how their life may have started off. Children at that age are blinded by sweets, the kindness around them, fairy tales and dreams. It’s not until they get a bit older and start to experience life without holding their parents’ hands, when they start to realise how life really is, how scary it can be and how a majority of people never get their fairy tale beginnings or endings.
Most fairy tales show young children perfect princesses and perfect relationships with unrealistic problems and unrealistic solutions to solve the problems. For example, when Snow White is poisoned by an apple, and as every princess has their ‘happily ever after’, she came back to life with a kiss from a prince, and she lived ‘happily ever after’.
There are many fairy tales which also have multiple meanings. For example, in Red Riding Hood the colour red could represent blood and danger representing the wolf side of the fairy tale. On the other hand, if we look at it from the perspective of Little Red Riding Hood it could also mean love and innocence or sexuality. Such as the love she has for her grandma, the fact that she is innocent, not realising who was in the bed, when she entered the house, and her hidden desires.
In my opinion my favourite fairy tale so far has to be Shrek
Do you know why Shrek is the best fairy tale? This is because in some fairy tales the princes and princesses are perfect, but in Shrek it teaches us that imperfect people can still have their own happy endings.
Shrek also teaches us that in life, there will always be ‘ups and downs’ between relationships. Fiona and Shrek have their own disagreements, but they also have to compromise and communicate with each other to in order to reach a resolution to their problems. Their solution does not just magically appear out of nowhere.
Shrek also shows the audience that people get judged and disliked just because of their appearance and that people don’t try to get to know the person before judging them. For example Fiona’s father disliked Shrek as he was not human, but over time when they gradually got to know each other’s personalities, they developed a reasonable relationship; they accepted each other for who they were.
I will conclude by saying, that fairy tales have impacted on my life so much when I was younger, eight years ago I would have imagined my life to be different, my appearance to be different, my dress sense to be different and maybe even my personality to be a bit different. I wanted to wear dresses and speak in a polite, girlie manner. I wanted the princess dream, living ‘’happily ever after’’ with the prince.
Shrek, however, presents an alternative prince as he represents strangeness, difference and the other.
Shrek is contemporary because he is a lead character represented as an alien unlike the more traditional fairy tales, where there’s an obvious stereotypical representation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. For example, in most fairy tales the norm has been the ‘white fairies’ who make all dreams come true. But that is not always the case as in a new fairy tale called Epic the main fairy who made her land peaceful was a young black fairy (voiced by Beyoncé), which is a more radical interpretation of fairy tale stories. There is a positive attitude of difference in these movies as it shows a black role model in power rather than a white image of ‘goodness’.
About the author
Mahreen Safdar attend Sir George Monoux College in Walthamstow, East London. She is in her last year studying for qualifcations in Communication and Culture, Law and IT. She wants to become a police woman, likes writing and listening to music, and dislikes spiders. She has enjoyed writing stories about her personal experiences in Communication and Culture, where this piece of work blog started life. Using life experience helps her to connect with whatever theme or topic she is writing about. You can contact Mahreen on Twitter @Mahreen96.
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