I'm a cynical girl. Romance and happily-ever-after are not part of my vocabulary. There are a variety of reasons that could explain the absence of my rose coloured glasses, a history I would rather not rehash at this time. However, I must confess that my most vulnerable years are at the core of my love for Disney fairy tales, especially The Little Mermaid. Believe me when I say that this movie ushered me through some very tough times. Charming Sebastien and Ariel were my guides into a safe, uncomplicated world. Happy endings were foreign to me, all the more reason to immerse myself in their simplicity. For the first time in my life, I visited Disney World in 2003. The moment I walked into that park, fairy tales suddenly felt real. I know this sounds a little dramatic but you have to understand that my introduction to Disney had been a massive part of my childhood. I would sing along, for hours on end, to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. It felt like I had literally walked into the movie itself, and I chose to believe that each cast member, dressed in costume, was indeed the character they pretended to represent. Although I was in my early 20s at the time, I allowed myself to regress into my elementary years... even if it was only for one week. Later in my university career, I completed a course in children's literature. The syllabus included several versions of fairy tales, such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and my beloved Little Mermaid. Boy, was I in for a surprise! Not only were these stories completely morbid and depressing, they were a far cry from the happy endings we were taught to love as kids. Angela Carter provided some exceptional food for thought with her rewriting of Red Riding Hood. Many end with death, severe punishment and sometimes rape. Even now, when I’ll be turning 28 on July 2nd, I’m very aware that my age does not correspond to my Disney fascination. Most of my friends are not as captivated by these stories as I am, but I remain a dedicated fan. There is something about the innocence of its humour that, despite references to popular and modern culture, remains charming and welcoming. Yes, Disney movies are often didactic and, for some, a little preachy. Perhaps my true reverence is reserved for Old School Disney animation, before Hannah Montana and Hilary Duff stormed the stage. But, if I were to be completely honest with myself, there are generations of teen sensations that occupy the magazine covers, no matter the decade. Regardless of what I learned in university, I continue to use my Disney favourites as anchors. They are memory markers, white flags of safety in a sea of chaos. The Little Mermaid was, quite simply, an escape. The funny characters and the innocent songs, Ursula and her schemes, Sebastien's hilarious anxiety, and Ariel's curiosity make me smile. And, as far as I'm concerned, that will always be a good thing.
Thank you so much Lydia for sharing your experiences with fairy tales! Now it is your turn . . . link up your reviews for the month and share in the comments what fairy tales have meant to you. Do they fascinate you in your elder years just as much as they did when you were younger (as in Lydia and myself!)?