As Pen and Prosper continues to honor women of achievement during National Women's History Month, I proudly present this timely commentary provided by one of my readers.
GUEST POST BY: STEPHANIE J. GATES
The recent release of the full length Cinderella movie has me thinking about women and our relationship to Cinderella. Like many girls growing up, I loved fairy tales. I checked out volumes of books from the public library, and imagined myself one day being rescued by a handsome, rich prince and living happily ever after, forever. I liked Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and all the rest, but Cinderella was my favorite. It is the one fairytale that has been told and retold.
There are countless versions of this classic tale, and every culture seems to have its own retelling-- the Egyptian Cinderella, the Korean Cinderella, and the Persian Cinderella just to name a few. No matter what version we read, the same thing happens in the end. Cinderella is delivered from her dreadful life through her marriage to a handsome prince. What girl--or woman, even--doesn’t want the ultimate come up? It is the dream that many of us expend time and energy trying to turn into reality. Cinderella resonates with us because she embodies what we believe to be the perfect life.
I wanted to be Cinderella, too. I wanted to slide my foot into that glass slipper and find the perfect fit. The shoe is supposed to fit, right? It always does in the story? So, if it doesn’t, there must be something wrong with me, right?
Wrong! It has taken me a while to understand that I may not be that Cinderella, and it’s ok not to be her because I am my own da*n Cinderella! And you should be, too. It’s time to take our head out of the clouds and plant our feet on the ground and claim what’s ours.
Are you suffering from Cinderella Syndrome? How many times have you settled for less than what you wanted, and less than you deserved because you thought the ticking clock meant that time was up?
How many of you have (and still do) squeeze your feet into relationships that mash the life out of you? How many of your hearts are callused? How many of you have stuffed your feet into spaces that are so small that they shattered and pierced a piece of your heart? How many of you have (and still do) flop around in relationships that rub you raw? How many times have you bought into the hype only to find out it’s all a hoax?
We spend our life getting ready for the ball because this is the ticket we’ve been sold—no refunds, no exchanges. And when the clock strikes midnight we find ourselves stripped down to our nakedness looking into the mirror not knowing the face that looks back at us. We think, Is this it? Even if we think we “have it all”—the dream job, the house, the husband and the children, there’s a void. Sometimes our prince turns out to be more harming than charming. We’re trying to figure out, how will this story end?
Instead of Cinderella, we’ve become the ugly stepsisters. We’re mean; jaded; cynical. We don’t believe that we deserve better. We compare our lives to others forgetting that we’ve never walked in their shoes and we don’t know how they fit, if they fit.
Who said Cinderella’s life was all that great? How many women do you know still steadfastly praying for and patiently waiting for their prince to come? Is that who you want to be? Is that all there is to life? What happens if a) he doesn’t show or b)he’s the wrong guy?
It’s time for an attitude adjustment. A paradigm shift. We have to decide who we want to be and what we want out of life. We have to rescue ourselves. We have to be the Cinderella that we need to be and not the one in the fairytale. We are bursting out of this one-size-fits-all model because we are so much bigger than that.
When we find the perfect fit for the life we want to live, we can most definitely live in the kingdom of happily ever after.
Your turn, readers...
Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
Stephanie Gates is a freelance writer, blogger, editor and educator in Chicago. Her articles, interviews and essays have been published in several anthologies, and in online and print publications including: Mahogany, Being Single Magazine, For Harriet.com and N'Digo. She blogs at Stephanie's Epiphanies.