Fairy Tales are a reflection of their time, changing and evolving along with society. But sometimes they need a little help. So we asked Elissa Sussman, author of STRAY, to give some popular fairy tales a feminist makeover.
One day, after the witch leaves the tower, Rapunzel takes a butter knife she has been secretly sharpening and cuts her hair to the length of her choosing. She then uses her braid as a ladder and climbs out of the tower, spending the rest of her life going wherever she pleases and doing whatever makes her happy.
2. Beauty and the Beast
A selfish princess is transformed into a monstrous beast. Through the patience of a handsome peasant boy, she is able to learn kindness, while the young man is able to see beyond her fur and fangs. They fall in love – one built on mutual affection and respect – and the spell is broken.
3. Snow White
When the Evil Queen offers her stepdaughter a poisoned apple, Snow White cuts the apple in half, telling her stepmother that they have both already been poisoned by the emphasis the world has placed on looks. Taking the Queen’s hands, Snow White is able to convince her that the concept of “the most beautiful of them all” is damaging and dangerous. Together they find fresh apples and bake a pie together.
When the king asks if the maiden can spin straw into gold, she says “not literally, but I can do your taxes and get you a really good rebate.”
5. The Little Mermaid
Instead of trading her voice for legs, Ariel makes a deal with the Sea Witch. When she gets to land, she uses that voice of hers to protect the ocean, creating the successful “Eight Tentacles, not Ate Tentacles” campaign, which criminalizes the capture and cooking of octopuses.
When the young bride discovers the room filled the bodies of her husband’s past wives, she uses a spell passed down from her mother and grandmother to reanimate the corpses of her sister-wives. When Bluebeard returns, the women tear him to shreds and transform his dreary palace into a place of refuge for women escaping abusive husbands.
7. The Princess Who Never Laughed
When her father declares she must marry, the princess states she will only marry someone who can make her laugh. Princes come from across the kingdom. When the princess refuses them, they tell her bitterly that she just doesn’t get the joke and women don’t know what funny is anyways. Finally the last suitor enters the room, head bowed and in a quiet voice asks: “why do dragons sleep all day?” “Why?” The suitor lifts her head, long hair falling out of her hat. “So they can fight knights.” The princess giggles and they marry soon after.
When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.
But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her—magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.
After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?