(No. Not the horrible Disney version. The original version: Andersen’s at a push, but he probably ripped it off from a cautionary tale mothers used to tell their daughters before bedtime. Andersen’s version is on Wikipedia, complete with a fairly Christian spin.)
In my recent column for Gorgeous Dating I wrote about the Seinfeld Dating Syndrome and how people often subconsciously turn insignificant faults into deal-breakers and ruin their own chances of happiness.
To compare and contrast, I briefly touched upon the subject of how we are often willing to sacrifice our own happiness for the illusion that a bad relationship with an inconsiderate person could turn around and be a “happily ever after” affair after all.
Surprisingly (or not!) it’s often those people we find “perfect” who end up mistreating us again and again. We put up with it without saying anything, like the little mermaid who swapped her voice for legs and hurt every time she walked or danced.
It’s not just women who make such compromises. Men are exactly the same when it comes to sometimes allowing themselves to be abused in relationships.
In most cases, the end of such relationships is as nasty as the Mermaid’s (Christian salvation symbolism and emotional blackmail issues aside).
The moral of the story is simple: never sell yourself short. If you are in a relationship that demands the sort of sacrifice that feels like losing your voice and walking on knives (or eggshells), then it’s probably time to slay the prince (or rather, the attachment you have for him), go back to the sea and find yourself another fish.
Anyone who says differently (I’m looking at you, Disney studios!) should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
If you’re interested in the concept of fairytales as cautionary tales for women, I heartily recommend the book: Women Who Run with the Wolves(UK edition here). Some of the blurb on Amazon seems to slate it a bit, but it’s actually a brilliant book that links fairytales and the female psyche.
Angela Carter’s rather strange but beautiful book The Bloody Chamber (UK edition can be found here) is also pretty cool. She reworks famous fairytales into some very well crafted cautionary tales with a rather sensual spin.