Are Snow White and Cinderella Not Suitable for Children?

Experts claim both stories could harm current generations.

Gabriela Castillo

Snow White and Cinderella were two of the favorite stories of almost every child, and we say “almost” because new generations are not very interested in what was read or seen a few decades ago. And that’s okay! Information and content change as time goes by. A lot of what we consumed as children would now be emphatically cancelled for normalizing behaviors that are currently being fought to correct. Snow White and Cinderella are included in this list; experts claim both stories are harmful for today’s children.

Experts think Snow White and Cinderella are harmful for current generations. Ladybird Book, a publisher specialized in children’s literature, brought together a group of “sensitivity readers,” responsible for determining whether the representation of any population group is appropriate or offensive within a literary work.

Snow White and Cinderella were part of this inspection and, according to the sensitivity readers, their stories are problematic for current social discourse. Experts in inclusion and publications mentioned that both include seven elements that could be harmful to new generations: love at first sight, beauty, pronouns, social class, ageism, diversity, and the role of women in everyday life.

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The sensitivity readers found that both stories privilege beauty over personality traits, while ignoring the importance of getting to know people beyond their physical appearance. Likewise, they claim that the characters depicted as “beautiful” or “handsome” are white, with blonde hair and blue eyes, which segregates racial diversity.

They also mentioned the romantic relationships in these classic children’s stories: they are all heterosexual, and the pronoun or gender of the characters is always assumed; the group of experts claim that this is a problem because it does not represent other sexual orientations and gender identities.

That’s not all, the experts also pointed out the emphasis placed on whether the protagonist is a “prince” or “princess” in the story, and consider this behavior to suggest that the importance of these characters lies in their social rank and economic status.

Another issue is age discrimination, as the characters who are deemed “good” are generally young and attractive, while the “bad” characters are represented by witches, older men with wrinkles and grotesque expressions.

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The final red flag, as we mentioned, is the role of women. The experts highlighted the reference to the “dependence of princesses on their princes” and suggested that women, as heroines, should have greater independence and not be portrayed as if their safety and dependence depended on the male characters in the story.

Sensitivity Readers

You may be wondering what sensitivity readers are and why they can determine what gets “canceled” and what doesn’t. In fact, more and more writers, and even actors, are joining them to avoid being accused of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, or any other type of discriminatory or offensive action towards the population.

They are a type of advisor who base their work on political/social movements to avoid making any mistakes that could provoke censorship. Times change, and the way we see the world changes with them.

Story originally written in Spanish by Kate Nateras in Cultura Colectiva.