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Did Cinderella Really Live A Happily Ever After Life?

Posted: June 30, 2015

The story of Cinderella or the damsel in distress have been told and retold, over centuries. But did Cinderella really live a happily ever after life?

If my name was Cinderella, you could be the prince

I could wear my sparkling prom dress,

We could fall in love the moment our eyes meet

If my name was Cinderella

You could pick me up in your gold and diamond carriage

You could be the hero of this fairy tale, and I could be the one

If my name was Cinderella

– Loraine Lotter

Oh yes, if my name was Cinderella, I would be touched by a fairy God Mother’s magical wand that would transform me. Then I would enchant my prince charming to live happily ever after. Is this the quintessential dream for a girl to live for?  Does it subconsciously fascinate men to imagine that the woman they chose to spend rest of their life with, had just one dream – to marry him?

It might boost a man’s ego for a short while but isn’t the joy transient? What’s life like, after this big dream is “accomplished”?  Are you now with someone who has nothing to look forward to?

Isn’t a life without dreams like a bird without wings – You could be pretty sure that the bird wouldn’t fly away, but is that all what you wanted?

Damsel in distress is an easy character to sketch and doesn’t demand much detailing

The Cinderella concept of woman has always been told, retold and passed on. We  have seen the character sketch time and again in our movies and TV serials where the damsel in distress wait to be saved by the knight in a shining armor. The plots in the new age gaming space aren’t much different either. Damsel in distress is an easy character to sketch and doesn’t demand much detailing (How could someone detail it out or add depth to the character if she has done nothing other than just waited to be saved?). We see that the medium of story telling has evolved and is a lot more interactive but the characters doesn’t  necessarily seem to be evolving at the same pace.

However, with more than a few movies or games challenging such stereo typical notion, should we believe that we are moving towards an era where – women who own up their lives and decisions are more desirable, endorsed and applauded?

Cinderella Complex is an unconscious wish to be taken care of. Women with Cinderella Complex  desire to be whisked away from the frightening realities of living

The damsel in distress plot has worked and there are reasons why it still works – one of the reasons being the “Cinderella Complex”. Cinderella Complex was first described by Colette Dowling who is a psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues. According to Colette, Cinderella Complex is an unconscious wish to be taken care of. Women with Cinderella Complex  desire to be whisked away from the frightening realities of living as an authentic adult owning up equal responsibilities of life, and feels  being on her own in life is quite un-womanly. This probably has to do with how we raise our daughters – she is daddy’s little princess who is protected by her father and her brother (s) until they pass on the baton of her responsibility to the husband. The other reason being the feel good factor for the men playing the role of a  “Knight” to the damsel in distress.

All such story plots end once the damsel is rescued and we move on with the belief that they lived happily ever after. We never get to see what “lived happily ever after” looks like. The truth of the matter is that the “happily ever after” doesn’t necessarily happen for the damsel and the knight. This can be attributed to a few reasons:

  • Happiness is an inside job and if you expect someone to be entirely responsible for your happiness, you are bound to be disappointed.
  • If you wait and expect for an external fairy mother or prince to fix your life, you are missing out on exploring your potential. The magic within you is waiting to be explored and could change the course of your life – but you need to take charge to fix your life.
  • A Cinderella would put up with an abusive relationship and get tortured rather than move out of it.
  • The Knights would slowly resent to the unrealistic strain that is caused by the demands to keep her happy – playing the role of a knight forever is exhausting.

The chemistry for a healthy long term relationship is not that of a rescuer and a victim, but a relationship that allows mutual growth and empowerment.

Let me conclude with Kahlil Gibran’s verses on love written more than ninety years ago!

 Let there be spaces in your togetherness.

And let the winds of heavens dance between you.

Stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow. 

Cinderella with her shoe image via Shutterstock

Sophia is the founder of Soul Cafe, a mom, a travel and life enthusiast. She

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1 Comment

  1. Hi,

    What Sophia has written is very true and laudable as she has precisely put across many of the points which irks many women not only from our country but also in other parts of the world.
    Several times I used to be bemused how every other heroine used to shout “Arjun”,”Rahul”, “Ramesh” or whatever hero’s names be it, when the villain wants to lay hands on them. As a matter of fact, she will be leaning on a pile of bamboo sticks or some rods kept in the warehouse. But dare she lift her finger against the villain, other than crying and cutting a sorry figure, for the mere titillation of the audience….yuk. It is not who is stronger or whether the woman can beat up the man. Imagine a puny man standing the same chance in that movie, he would beat up the villain, because ‘he is a central male protagonist’, and it is immaterial that the villain is a sumo wrestler.

    We all know this would be the masala factor churned out, but we continue to watch several item numbers and such damsel in distress scenes, as if the entire movie is being shown just to satisfy the male audience, and whether the women like it or not is covered up in the name of producing movies for the ‘mass’.

    I have given two links below, which talks what the author has spoken above and it is really interesting to note that many have started voicing opinions against such crap and lack of creativity in entertainment industries.


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