Our twisted beauty standards: it all begins with fairytales

So, I was just watching that ‘Snowwhite and the Hunstman’, you know, the one with Kristen Stewart and my god, my English Literature degree has ruined me because I started analysing it (kill me now). But anyway, I had a realisation on how twisted our ideas of beauty are. Ok, just hear me out.

So, beauty is seen as wonderful and desirable. If you are beautiful, you are (generally) a good person. Most fairy tale princesses embody beauty, because they are so good. In contrast, being ugly is a punishment for being bad people. Cinderella’s step sisters are ugly. Their ugliness is associated with their evilness. This is probably better explained by Roald Dahl, who, in his children’s book, ‘The Twits’, says that if you have ugly thoughts and are ugly on the inside your face will show it and you will become ugly on the outside but if you are beautiful on the inside, you will be beautiful on the inside. So good equals beautiful and evil equal ugly.

As well as this, if you’re beautiful you’re treated with adoration, respect and love and generally, good things happen to you in the end. However if you’re ugly, people treat you badly and usually you have a pretty bad outcome. How characters in these stories react to the superficialness of beauty is seen at the beginning of the Beauty and the Beast when the the prince turns the witch away because she is ugly and old but then begs forgiveness and offers her anything when she transforms herself into a beautiful woman. And, ironically, his punishment for being so superficial is to be turned into an ugly beast…

Ok, BUT If you want to be beautiful and are not already its seeing as bad. Which is super twisted. In the fairy tale setting women are punished for trying to achieve the same standards of beauty that others are celebrated for. The fact that the queen in Snow White wants to be the most beautiful woman in the land, is seen as horrifying, (even before she starts being all evil). So its bad that she wants to be as beautiful as Snow White, BUT its good that Snow White is already beautiful. In ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, she says how shes only got where she has done because of her youth and beauty, so can she really be blamed for wanting to keep that? Also, when the queen in Snow White is defeated, she is shown in rather shocking graphic imagery turning old and ugly. That is her punishment.

So children, the moral of the story…

Its good to be beautiful, and beautiful people are well loved. It’s bad to be ugly and ugly people are shunned. But it’s bad if you try to be beautiful and are born ugly. Ugliness is used as a punishment for people being superficial so they will be treated badly. But it is bad to judge those who are born ugly. But those people who are ugly already are not allowed to try and be beautiful, coz that would be superficial and selfish of them.

I know I’ve barely scraped the surface here but seriously, what the fuck. Rant over.

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