Understanding Life Through Stories

Tag: feminism

Snow White and Me: A Reflection on the 80th Anniversary

Once upon a time, I wrote a letter to my younger self’s favorite Disney Princess: Snow White.

Originally, I wrote it on a whim, to deal with worries I was dwelling on at the time. Since then, it’s become one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written.

Snow White’s Legacy

Despite being the foundation of the entire line of Disney Animated Movies, not to mention animated movies in general, Snow White, the film and the character, can be hard to love these days.

Since the film was already taking a risk on the animation, the plot and character development were incredibly simple. 80 years on, it’s very much a product of its time. I’ve heard people who just can’t stand the old animation or the princess’s high-pitched Betty Boop soprano.

Snow White

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/2063134998

Yet, the film and the character alike were a welcome escape in 1937 for people struggling with the Great Depression and the looming conflicts in Europe and Japan- a “tonic for disillusion,” as the New York Times called it. Some have even said The Wizard of Oz, which came out two years after Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, took significant inspiration from the Disney film.

More recently, seeing all the love around the 80th anniversary (December 21, 2017), from Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas windows to Funko Pop Figures, I feel I was wrong, when I wrote that letter, to think her the unfavorite of the Disney heroines.

Still, with plans for a live action remake in the works, I worry the best parts of her character and story will be lost in trying to make her appeal to a modern audience.

So, to celebrate, here again is why I see good and potential in this character:

In This Together: What Does it Means to Be Feminist?

In the wake of Women’s History Month and various female-driven campaigns of the past months, inspiring women’s stories are getting great exposure. But despite present passion, if we don’t also look at stories of past failings in feminism (as documented in the play The Heidi Chronicles) and what it really means to be feminist, we may be doomed to failure.

In spite of all the misogyny and threatened rights present in government recently, I’ve been so inspired by the way women have come together in recent months. The Women’s March and associated marches that took place all over the world on January 21 may have come together quickly, but there was enough time for a grassroots marketing campaign to gain ground.

My favorite image associated with the marches is the one above by Narya Marcille, which my mom and I used as temporary profile pictures to support from afar.

What I love most is the variety of women it depicts. The way the Washington March was marketed by the women who originally put it together, they wanted it to be inclusive of more than one type of woman, or, as Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw coined it, “intersectional.” Seeing all those crowds on TV seemed to reflect what was depicted in that image. For a moment, I thought maybe the next four years could be okay if we all showed up like this.


But then… things started to come out. Things that, from my privileged perspective, hadn’t occurred to me could happen. Transgender women who were inadvertently isolated by the hats tying womanhood to biological sex over gender. Native American women who felt they were silenced from voicing the issues of land rights that affected them specifically. Black women who wondered if the women around them would be so willing to fight for racial equality as they were for sexual and gender equality. And for good reason – it was white women, who might not be so different from me, who voted 53% for the administration now endangering women’s rights.

My heart plummeted. Another disappointment in a long line of disappointments in recent months.

I mean, let’s acknowledge there were plenty of stories of inclusion in the marches as well, that the fact it spread among women, allied men, children, elderly, and even beyond United States borders is something to be celebrated, especially considering how relatively quickly it all came together. No movement is perfect. But as much as we want unity, we can’t silence these stories of women let down by current efforts, women of color or trans women or women with physical and mental issues. If we do, it will eventually destroy us.

Because we’ve seen this happen before.

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