Basically, the story goes like this...
It was not until a few years ago, reading this story to my daughter at bedtime, that I noticed the main message was not empowering to young children.
A lovely young girl by the name of Ella goes through a tragedy of losing both parents, leaving her in the hands of a cruel heartless stepmother and bullying stepsisters.
Ella tries to win them over by being exceptionally nice and doing as many chores as it took to prove her value and good nature, but nothing worked. It all feels too helpless for Ella, when they deny her going to the ball and any chance of a better life with a prince.
Ella was left to feel powerless and depressed. Suddenly a Fairy Godmother appears and magically fixes everything wrong in her life. Ella, nicknamed Cinderella for having cinders all over her from cleaning fireplaces on an ongoing basis, ends up at the Royal Ball, looking sensational.
Ella meets the prince and they hit if off, but suffers the midnight curse and is forced away from the ball without revealing her identity to the prince. Fortunately, she is rescued again by the prince, thanks to a slipper she left behind.
Cool story, but what does this suggest to a child?
I understand being kind attracts rewards, but where is the message around being treated with respect and not allowing people to just mistreat you? This did not sit well with me at all.
Her hope and faith of a better life was being directed outside herself to others to give her permission to be happy. When she became desperate, her faith was rewarded by being rescued by others from her mundane and sad life. The initiative and responsibility to change her circumstances was missing.
How can this be a message I want my child to be enchanted with while she is in the most impressionable and malleable stage of her life?
No parent wants that for their child. I was left very confused why this was allowed to happen.
Then something strange happened...
As I was reading the story and my mind had switched into disbelief, the desire to find a better way grew within me. It was as if I really wanted this story to be empowering for my daughter Holly and I was looking for a way to better interpret the events.
Then the magic turned on. It turns out, the story is filled with empowering symbology, revealing an incredible message, but hidden from plain view. It was as if the true and empowering story was hidden below the familiar story that we have been recognising on the surface all this time.
I was elated as this new view cleared my fog of confusion. It was like I accessed Ella’s side of the story and it was profound, in comparison to the popular portrayal of the story made famous by Disney.
This new view made me want to write the story in a way that allowed the truth and magic of what Ella achieved within her to rise to the surface. This is how Cinderella’s Secrets came to be.
In my version of this story, Ella discovers that being kind is wonderful but on its own, won’t make you happy . You also have to be kind to yourself.
She realises that her belief in how the world works was getting her nowhere. The answers she desperately sought remained elusive, and this depressed her. In that moment of feeling depressed, she falls into a trance by the fireplace and in that detached state, reviews her life. In that review, Ella could see how she was encouraging people to exploit her by having no healthy boundary around how she should be treated.
This contemplation and revaluation of her life begins a dramatic personal transformation for Ella. During this metamorphosis, she emotionally embraces her worth and conviction to stand up for what she believes. This moves her state of mind and body out of her unhealthy habit of being in servitude to the point of enslavement. It also moved Ella out of her co-dependance on others to provide her with opportunities to be happy and feel loved. She practically reinvents herself and becomes compatible with a life of love and abundance.
Her Fairy Godmother was her access to her higher wisdom that guided her reinvention and the story plays out the interaction in this way. The midnight hour curse was more about how we fall back into our old habits and how important it is to evolve our identity beyond those habits. Ella learned to undo the last feelings of self doubt that were holding her away from her dream to be free and be loved.