Movies to Books: Cinderella (1950)

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I was never a fan of Cinderella. I thought she was incredibly lame, giving the message that all you had to do was wait around and wish on a star for your life to get better, and all your problems will be solved by your knight in shining armor.

But then I saw a set of Tweets from someone named Melissa Gray:

"I see a lot of "She just waited around and then a prince saved her. The end. What antifeminist dreck!" When I was a kid dealing with abuse, what other people saw as "waiting," I saw as "surviving."

Cinderella never seemed to me to be a doormat putting up with abuse. She survived it and then found love later in life. And that was actually a really positive message for [me]. I kind of hate seeing it torn apart.

"Why did Cinderella let her stepmother/sisters treat her like that?" Shut up. Not how abuse works. Cinderella survived abuse. It didn't turn her hard and cold inside. She stayed good and kind and found a way to be happy.

I hate hate hate when people say they'd stand up to abusers. Means they have no fucking clue what it's like to live in fear. So what if Cinderella's happy ending is finding love? Do you have any idea how hard it is for survivors to believe they're worth loving?

Cinderella marrying the prince isn't a passive, antifeminist act. Loving and being loved are super hard when you grow up with abuse. Abuse warps people inside. Choosing to be kind is not choosing to be passive. It's choosing to end the cycle of abuse."

Cinderella isn't weak. She's one of the strongest Disney princesses of them all.

But on a writing note, THIS is abuse. When you write a character getting bullied, keep this dialogue in mind because Cinderella was one of the strong ones, and most people aren't that strong. Bullying, abuse, cruelty--it changes you. It destroys you. It teaches you to annihilate yourself, to lose yourself and become a shadow of your old self.

If you're writing a character being bullied and you want them to show inner strength and fight back, having them scream and punch back isn't the only way. Sometimes it takes more courage to hold their tongue and take it, especially if they realize the consequences of fighting back will be far worse. It takes incredible guts and strength to withstand abuse without turning to violence. If you see a victimized character quietly taking abuse and doing nothing about it, you should know that they're not doing nothing. They're doing a hell of a lot. They're waking up in the morning even though they know what's coming. They're surviving.

And to me, those are some of the strongest characters of them all.

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