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The Cinderella Effect

When you read this book to your child, make sure you emphasise on the fact that good triumphs over evil, and play down the importance of good looks.

Certain stories your children grow up with have a negative influence. While you don't need to keep your children away from these stories, you should address these influences when reading to your child. Of all the fairy tales we have grown up with, one of the most damaging is Cinderella.

All stepmothers are evil

When one hears the word 'stepmother' one often automatically pictures someone less than loving towards her stepchildren. And this picturisation is often far more dramatic for children, who imagine stepmothers to be evil people. The origin of this mindset can be traced to the story of Cinderella. When you read this story out to your child, let them know that stepmoms can be good too. Even though your children may never have one, it helps for them to have a broader mindset. Their friends may have stepmothers, in which case they shouldn't automatically presume that their friends are being oppressed, nor should they feel sorry for them.

The Prince Charming concept

From the moment little girls read Cinderella, they are swept away by the concept of Prince Charming, and many girls wait their entire lives to meet their own Prince Charming, who may never show up. You need to teach your daughter that looks are not very important. Or, play down the good looks of Prince Charming, and make him sound more like a nice, kind and loving person, who has more to him than just good looks and pot loads of money.

Looks are not all important

The book plays up the fact that Cinderella was good and beautiful, while her step-sisters were ugly and wicked. Who knows, perhaps the fact that looks matter to so many of us, and we often judge people based on their outward appearances stems from the not-so-subtle messages of this book, embedded in our sub-conscience from childhood. This book, together with the Barbie doll, increases our desire to attain perfect looks. Many researchers have pegged Cinderella as one of the most dangerous book ever written! Who would have thought such a 'wonderful' story can be so controversial?

Romantic visions

Little girls start having romantic visions from the minute they read this book. They get lost in a world of beautiful women and handsome princes, and dream of the time when they grow up to be beautiful themselves, trapped in a hard life, and are rescued by a handsome man. They live happily ever after. Millions of movies have played up this theme, and raked in the money. Needless to say, the message you want to give your child is that she should be successful on her own accord, who wouldn't need 'rescuing'. Success is far more attractive than helplessness. A confident and independent woman will attract an equally impressive partner.

Adults too are easily seduced by the Cinderella Story, which is why the movie Pretty Woman was such a massive hit. What chance do little girls have against the powerful influence of this story?

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