Cinderella is a story about marketing


In the Grimm Brothers version of the Cinderella story, one of the wicked and vain stepsisters – let’s call her Charise – claimed that she was the rightful wearer of the glass slipper. Only problem? Her feet were too big.

No problemo, says Wicked Stepmother. Out comes the kitchen knife, slicey slicey off goes Charise’s big toe, and voila! the shoe fits. The Prince escorts the stepsister off to the palace, until birds alert him that her shoe is filling up with blood. Then the birds peck out her eyes. (You don’t remember this part? My copy had some disturbing illustrations.)

Completely undeterred by her sister wandering as a blind and limping beggar, the other wicked stepsister  – Jessamine – claims the slipper. Her foot is also a bit too big: slicey slicey, off with her heel. It works out exactly the same way, because the prince is clearly not that bright. Shoe fills with blood, birds sound the alert then peck out her eyes. Jessamine goes to join her sister in pain and obscurity.

The moral of the story

Like many fairytales, this makes more sense as an analogy than as a story. So let’s make the moral about positioning.

It’s easy to understand the desire to jam that glass slipper on your foot. The rewards are massive: money, adoration, power, (dim-witted) admirers… if you can wear the slipper you can have them all.

But we forget that the slippers were made for Cinderella . Made with magic! They’re a custom-fit solution that we can’t use without sacrificing parts of ourselves.

We also forget that the big prizes go to the first one through the palace gates. Even if the slipper fits you perfectly… there’s only one prince, and Cinderella’s already nabbed him. You might get a slightly warty baron, but that’s all.

When we forget these two things, we get blinded. And we hurt ourselves, and allow others to shape us to fit someone else’s path to success.

But what if…

Charise and Jessamine, horrified by the idea of slicing themselves into a dodgy version of someone else, decided to be themselves. They started a marvellously bitchy website commenting on how fantastic they look and how sooty the new princess is and oh my GAWD did you see what the High Duchess of Grabavia was wearing to the coronation? It’s the sixteenth century, hellllloooo.

All those who were tired of Princess Cinderella and Her Attack Birds of Death, or looking for the latest goss on The Least Observant Prince in History, flock (PUN) to the website. Soon Charise and Jessamine are rolling in admirers, money, and high-end gift bags. The End.

Charise and Jessamine could own that story in a way that they couldn’t own the Path to Princessdom. It allows them – requires them – to use their natural gifts, their voices, and their totally wicked hairstyles. And it rewards them accordingly.

So the moral of the story is this:

You can’t fit someone else’s slipper. Find your own.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: kevindooley