Bad Lessons From Cinderella Story

“No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true”. What danger lies behind these beautiful words said by Cinderella?

Everyone loves Cinderella. Who doesn’t? She is beautiful and has a very kind heart. Don’t get me wrong, I do not hate Cinderella, not would I start a campaign against her either. In fact, I still frequently read this story to my daughter. What I want to highlight here are some of the characters and aspects of the story which may teach our children wrong moral messages. Here are the discussions.


Image source

Cinderella is a weak-willed character

“No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true” This is the lyric of Cinderella’s favorite song. Beautiful words, with beautiful message. Believe in dream is good as it can give the strength to go on, and this is exactly what Cinderella does: dreaming. Her belief in dream is so powerful that she didn’t do anything to change her fate other than dreaming and waiting for someone to save her life. She simply lets things going on around her; she lets her stepmother and sisters steal her fortune and treat her as a maid.

Cinderella is lucky to have mouse friends who could sew and a fairy godmother who could turn pumpkin into fancy carriage. With the help of magic, everything comes easy for Cinderella and in the end her dream does come true. This side of the story wants to convey a message that dreams do come true to those kind-hearted people who believe in it. The children, however, may get the wrong message: if you believe in dreams; you only have to wait until the universe provides everything for you. It may takes sometimes for the children to realize that dreaming only will not change fate and to wait forever is not always a wise decision.

Cinderella’s motivation is only to be married by a Prince.

Cinderella shows her weak-willed character from the beginning of the story, but she seems to exhibit a little bit of effort when she hears that the Prince is going to have a royal ball at the palace. This is a romantic motivation. Perhaps, there is nothing wrong with this, considering that the most popular version of Cinderella story is originated in 17th century when the monarch still ruled the world. Marrying a prince at that time may be the only solution to provide the ideal happily ever after ending.

However, when you read this story to your children today, this motivation may sound anti-feminist. I started to question Cinderella’s motivation when I was in 5th grade. Why can’t Cinderella have a more noble cause to fight her life for? Doesn’t she have any other goal in her life other than to become someone’s wife? In addition, marrying a Prince is not only Cinderella’s obsession. Drizella and Anastasia also try to do anything in the world to win the Prince’s heart. I wonder if this side of the story is still relevant in our today’s life, irrespective that such romantic story still wins many children’s heart.

Does the Prince really love Cinderella?

Should Cinderella appear before the Prince with her broom and dirty look instead of her richly extravagant gown and make up, will the Prince still fall in love with her? Cinderella looks very pretty but it is all with the help of magic. What if magic is not available? This side of the story may convey a message to the children that if you would like someone to love you, you need to manipulate your look

Sibling rivalry between Anastasia and Drizella teach violence lesson.

Anastasia and Drizella fight all the time. They are grown up ladies, but still fight like a five years old. They seem to be forever slapping and kicking each other. The slapping and kicking get worse in the Disney’s sequel version, Cinderella III: “The Twist in Time”. Their behavior, dialogue and gesture are funny sometimes. They can make the children laugh. In fact they present some kind of slapstick humor. However, children may mimic the behavior. It may teach violence behavior to the children.

Overall, I still say that the classic Cinderella story is beautiful and has some good moral lessons, but behind this wonderful story, there are some aspects that might not be so good for the children.

My other related articles:

Tips to Make Your Kids Fall in Love with Books

Most Tragic Characters in Children Story Book

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  1. Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:01 am

    you really are a book worm! this is one of my favorite story!

  2. Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Excellent article Yovita brings back memories

  3. nobert soloria bermosa
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:11 am

    nice job on this one,

  4. Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I agree.

  5. Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:48 am

    True words of wisdom! nice writing!

  6. Posted February 8, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Well done–and so very true. Those old stories teach moral lessons, but also help ingrain stereotypes. May I recommend the Princess and the Pizza as an alternative bedtime read? You many need to read Rapunzel and the Princess and the Pea first as references are made.

  7. Posted February 8, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Good and precise. Thanks for sharing.

  8. F J McCarthy
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Why must we pick this story apart it is just a fairy tale. By the time kids are old enough to understand about morality and social issues they have no interest in Cinderella.

  9. Posted February 8, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I think that you have some good points.. especially the stuff about image, since that is a huge issue today. I think that too many stories have it so that the girl gets all done up and THEN the guy notices her. Blech to that!

    Good article.

  10. Posted February 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I agree with ML – the guy notices the girl when she is done up. The other issue that I have with the Cinderella story is the notion that beautiful people are good and ugly people are bad. This theme dominates much of our literature and movies today.
    Cinderella is “just” a fairy tale, but keep in mind that these tales were written to teach morality, unlike the drivel that our children are fed today which are only meant to entertain and make money.

  11. Posted February 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Cinderella, excellent bed time story, it probably depends on how you suggest the story to the children. Ask them what good lesson they can pick up and ask them also what character attitude they shouldn’t imitate.

  12. Posted February 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I’m in total agreement with these issues;even though many of us enjoyed this fairy tale it only skims the real issues relating to real life. Great insight Yovita! Karen mentioned today’s generation being taught to entertain and make money. There are more opportunities out here now to be exposed to the possibilities that so many past generations didn’t have.Since we all need money,I see nothing wrong with grabbing an opportunity to make it in an honest and talented manner.After all,Cinderella and many other fables have made billions of dollars off of us.

  13. Posted February 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I love Cinderella! Interesting view of the story.

  14. Posted February 8, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Quite an interesting point of view. I have never looked at the story in that way before. You have me thinking.

  15. Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I`m with FJ on this one, children only goes for the magic of the story.. besides I won`t be explaining my children why is she weak, why is the step-mother/daughters wicked.. I would only be explaining that the moral is if you are kind, you will be rewarded and wickedness is punished..

  16. Posted February 8, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    wow… that’s whole new “other side of the coin”. impressive!

  17. Posted February 8, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Oh, the hidden lessons we can learn from these fairy tales. Thank you for the revelation.

  18. Posted February 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Have you read the original Cinderella stories?

    Here are some:

    And here is the original Grimm story:



  19. Posted February 8, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    You write very well. I’ve heard a lot of takes on the ‘Cinderella Syndrome’ – quite a few negative like this – every story has ‘villains’ who show and tell us what not to do. In my life I was like Cinderella, complete with -allegorical- wicked stepmother, or witch, as well as the sisters, yet there were good kind -fairy godmothers’ in my life too. I have to vote FOR Cinderella because there have been some amazing similar stories of those who had nothing and were treated like trash -me too- yet, because of that -handsome prince- who fell in love with them, they became the princess they really were beneath the soot and rags. I haven’t heard the song you mentioned. I love the old-fashioned picture you posted here. Well done.

  20. Posted February 8, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    It was an interesting spin to the story, and yes, we take from it many things. Nice article Yovita!

  21. Poetic Enigma
    Posted February 8, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Great article, very well written (:

  22. Posted February 8, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    well done Yovita, cinderella is a favorite of mine.

  23. Posted February 9, 2009 at 12:50 am

    interesting article!

  24. Posted February 9, 2009 at 1:49 am

    I think as long as you teach them the difference between fairy tales and reality it’s okay to read these kinds of stories to your children.

  25. Posted February 9, 2009 at 2:38 am

    Extremely well written and interesting article Yovita, thank you. I totally agree with ML and Karen’s comments, it shouldn’t be about how we look.

  26. Posted February 9, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Great article. I will probably never read this book again, without thinking about what you have shared here.

  27. Posted February 9, 2009 at 5:37 am

    I think you have some very good points but I agree with Miss Cornella that as long as you teach your kids the difference between reality and fiction it will be fine.

  28. Posted February 9, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I agree, you brought up some very good points.

  29. Posted February 9, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    A very clear and well thought out analysis of this story, and nicely written. But it is like most fairy-tale—not real nor very realistic.

  30. Posted February 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    It reminds me of Brother Grimm’s fairy tales! There is always something dark in those fairy-tales! Nice article!

  31. Posted February 9, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Great synopsis of this story. A better version (in my opinion) is Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. It is probably not one you’d want to share with your children, but it is a great adult-read!

  32. Posted February 9, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Great synopsis of this story. A better version (in my opinion) is Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. It is probably not one you’d want to share with your children, but it is a great adult-read!

  33. Posted February 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    You always bring points to mind that I had never even thought of. Excellent write.

  34. Posted February 11, 2009 at 7:31 am

    We are so much more evolved emotionally than when this story was written. So many old stories are about another person making us happy. We understand now how much of that is our own responsibility. This writing is a good illustration of how much we continue to grow as humans.

    Great Read!

  35. Mr Ghaz
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Excellent! You amazed me. Very interesting story about Cinderella. I totally agree with you. A lot of lessons behind this story..Well done and thanks for sharing.

  36. Posted February 11, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Interesting article about how sometimes certain thoughts are forced into our minds. Please continue writing such inciteful articles!!

  37. Posted February 13, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Good read. Hummm … I guess I better be careful what I write in my kids stuff! Thanks for sharing this.

  38. Posted February 15, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I was also taught a story like this but can’t remember when or in which language.

    Now these stories look so simple. But you could find good points and problems with this story in relation to present world.

  39. Posted February 17, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Good points. I remember thinking Cinderella seemed very weak when I read this story as a child.

  40. Posted February 21, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Great analysis of an old fairy tale!

  41. Posted February 25, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Yovita, I like your post. It even inspired me to write a short bit on the same topic, which I linked back to you.

    You know, I think it’s always a good idea to talk to kids about the characters that they admire and give them our perspective. It helps them understand the value system of their family and encourages them to analyze what they see.

  42. Victoria
    Posted March 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I think this really explains a lot but I will read this to my daughter and I don’t think that she is weak I mean she is a princess its just a fantasy story.

  43. Posted December 10, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Another thing is, Cinderella is materialistic girl and the prince is physically oriented.

    Good couple lol

  44. Posted December 10, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    You are so thoughtful, I certainly would have been fortunate to have you as a parent! A new Disney movie with an African American princess is out now and is said to promote the ethical value of doing meaningful and goal oriented work; I’m sure you’ll appreciate the approach. As an approach to children personally, I’d advise parents to work out little purposefully designed interactions which widens a childs perspective, empathy, and practicality in meaningful ways, and to introduced the child to the pre-arranged interactions several times. For example: Have a young one take you for a walk, then teach him how to check for cars at each corner before he crosses the street. Then have him take you by the hand and walk you across every street after he has checked for cars to make it meaningful for him.

  45. AJ
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 2:31 am

    While your view are logical and well presented, I would say that its out of the context.Children are soft and emotional by nature.So you need a story that is well rounded to connect with children.Its not anti-feminist, as you will find in some other children stories that a child finds a magic potion/treasure something that changes his fortune.

    Children have the entire life to understand the hard lessons that they are going to face in future.What they need is a feel good story that raises hopes and happiness.The oppression of Cindrealla is not about sibling rivalary.Its also about the several frustrations that we as adults can’t get rid off and we have to live with it.Its about persistence, its about hope, though spelled indirectly.

    If the story had been that Cindrella

  46. Posted December 27, 2011 at 10:07 am

    It is all true; however, in the grimm brother’s edition, the Prince sees Cinderella with her danty and dirty look. He, by looking closely, remembers her beauty that he thrice saw at his father’s festival.

    P.S: You’re answer is very well- developed.

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