Monday, March 23, 2015

The Many Sides of the Strong Female Character

I heard something in my writing group the other day that made me want to write this.

Cinderella is a weak female stereotype.

She lives with her evil stepmother and is rescued by her fairy godmother. She’s dressed up in fine clothes, given everything she needs for one dreamy night, goes to a ball, and falls in love with a prince. She’s beautiful and mysterious and the prince can’t help but fall in love with her. So he searches until he finds her, and makes her his bride. They have their happily ever after.

We all know the story. It’s supposed to be a magical fairytale about true love. But because Cinderella is beautiful and rescued by a prince, she’s considered a silly weak girl. How dare she be a role model for young girls to look up to.

How about this? Cinderella was abused for many years, dressed in rags, insulted, worn down, belittled by her family, and forced into slavery. Through all this physical and emotional pain, she’s able to rise above and find a way out of her cruel predicament.

Kinda changes the perspective, right?

These days there is a large focus on strong female characters. They should be physically strong, emotionally stable, and able to kick butt. They don’t need to rely on a man to keep them safe, but it’s okay to find a bit of love while they’re out saving the world. They have to be strong willed, but heaven forbid they like the color pink. They need to be smart, sassy, not too bitchy, but have attitude.

Whew. That’s a lot of heavy load to carry.

So why does Cinderella get such a bad rap? Is it really so bad that maybe her goal in life was to find love, settle down and have a family? Isn’t it great that she was able to overcome her horrible past? Why can’t she get help from a man?

I love the strong female character. I really do. I write about her all the time. I agree that there needs to be more. But I think that strength comes in all shapes and forms. Why can’t a girl love pink and still kick ass? Why can’t a girl rely on (heaven forbid) someone else to help her in times of need?

So who are your favorite strong female characters and why?