I’m married to a comic book fanatic. Seriously. The room I’m sitting in has two book cases stuffed with comics. Only 2 book cases, you may ask? Well, those are the trade paperbacks. Our garage contains over 30 boxes packed full of individual comics. I like reading comics too, and my favorite is a series called Fables. It explores the ‘after’ in the lives of fairy tale characters, such as Snow White, Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella, Prince Charming, and so on. Or something to that effect. It’s kind of hard to explain. But, in this series Prince Charming is a philandering thrice-married adulterer.
My point, you may ask?
Fairy tales suck. Do you know what my favorite children story is? The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. If you’ve never read it, you should. In it Princess Elizabeth rescues Prince Ronald from the fire-breathing dragon who carried him away… and the thanks she gets? Dear Prince Ronald tells her to ‘clean up’ and come back when she looks like a real princess! She rescues his sorry little self, and he has the guts to comment on her appearance at the time?! My favorite part is the last page of the book… “You look like a real prince, but you are a bum!” And they didn’t get married after all.
Why is this my favorite book? Because it’s real, minus the fire-breathing dragon of course. Prince Charming doesn’t exist in the form found in Cinderella or Snow White. He exists only as a philandering prick.
Not to say there aren’t wonderful men out there. There are. I’m married to one. He’s amazing and loves me more than anything. But that doesn’t mean he’s Prince Charming. He hasn’t found my glass slipper and returned it to me, rescuing me from a wicked stepmother. Nor has he serenaded me at a well and kissed me awake from an enchanted sleep. We fight. We say things we shouldn’t, and do things we shouldn’t. But, it’s real and it’s perfect in its own way. A would always win against Prince Charming.
But the world is setting up children for disappointment. They are taught to believe in Prince Charming in his glorified, idolized form, and they spend their whole life looking for him. They reject the wonderful men, because he isn’t Prince Charming… And they are crushed when they think they finally found Prince Charming, and only then realize he’s the very one they should have run away from.
If I ever have a daughter, she may grow up with the Disney princess stories, but she will know The Paper Bag Princess by heart, and she will know that appearances can be deceiving.