Children’s fairy tales, especially those by the Brothers Grimm, may seem harmless now that we are past that age. But take a closer look at those grisly tales today. These stories are brutal, create fear and promote archaic values that have been appropriate in the 18th century when most of them were written. Here are six fairy tales that no parent should ever make their children read.
Sleeping Beauty: The story normalises the fact that it is OK for a woman to have no qualities apart from beauty and kindness and that she is forever at the mercy of a man to rescue her. Similarly, the only independent woman in the story who has a mind of her own is the evil fairy. It also sends out a wrong message about consent when the Prince kisses Sleeping Beauty who is in deep slumber.
Cinderella: ‘Lookism’ means a bias towards people who are conventionally attraction. Just a casual reading of Cinderella will tell you why the story reeks of lookism. The protagonist is a beautiful young girl tormented by her ugly stepsisters who are jealous of her. The story could plant the idea in young minds that the beautiful are virtuous and the ones who aren’t are wicked and conniving.
The Little Mermaid: On the surface, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice, but it sends out a dangerous and regressive message to young girls. The mermaid trades her voice for a pair of legs that hurt her with every step she takes but is left heartbroken in the end. The only way she can get her voice and her old life back is if she kills the one she loves with an enchanted dagger. The story also glorifies suicide when the mermaid chooses to end her own life instead so that her true love can live.
The Little Red Riding Hood: It is a cautionary tale for kids that explains why they shouldn’t talk to strangers. The story is too graphic for little children as it depicts violence. Sensitive children with empathy may find graphic details of the grandmother being eaten by the wolf too frightening and upsetting. In some versions, the wolf eats the girl as well, and the story ends with the hunter shooting the wolf and tearing his stomach to rescue the grandmother and the girl.
Hansel and Gretel: It is yet another graphically violent fairy tale that parents should think twice about before buying. It’s easy to argue saying that it teaches young ones not to trust someone who may talk sweetly and offer candy and cakes to entice them. But does it have to be this violent? There are blatant references to cannibalism when the witch traps the children and force-feeds Hansel to fatten him. The climax where the children push the witch into a pot of boiling oil is too brutal for sensitive minds.
Goldilocks and the three bears: What could be wrong about this innocent tale of a young girl wandering into the house of a bear family of three? She eats their food and sleeps on their bed, and in the end, gets caught by the bear family. But it all ends well when the family takes a liking towards her. What’s wrong with this seemingly harmless tale is that it glosses over Goldilocks’ stealing and trespassing, sending out the wrong message to children.