Sep 15 2011

Life's Not A Fairy Tale...Or Is It?

Do you ever think, now where is that Fairy God Mother that Cinderella had? I could use a little Bippity Boppity Boo today.

Maybe you’ve felt like this too, that the fairy tales you read as a kid set you up for disappointment in life.

Thought about that last night when my kids and I were all cuddled up on the couch watching Snow White, reliving my childhood through their eyes.

I thought, is this really the right thing for my daughter to learn?  That all will be okay when her Prince Charming comes. 

Emily is 5 and has all the dress up gowns and loves crowns and I tell her she’s a child of God so she’s a real princess, but at the same time I want to prepare her for when life isn’t a fairy tale.  That it’s not the Fairy God Mother that you wish for.

When people hurt you…you have to get back up, with a faith in God not man, because God’s help doesn’t expire at midnight and with him your carriage doesn’t turn into a pumpkin.


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9/15/2011 8:38:49 AM
Tammy United States
Hi Amanda, I understand that life is not a fairy tale, but after raising three girls myself, I believe God put the love for fairy tales in our feminine hearts so that we will desire His love.  Yes, men, girlfriends, life itself will let us down, but our real Prince will never let us down.  Please let your daughter continue to be in love with fairy tales.  They are a beautiful picture of God's redemption love story for us!
9/15/2011 9:03:35 AM
Nicole Brush United States
Nicole Brush
I just heard you talking about this on klove, and I'm so disappointed to hear you fall for this line that secular society has been feeding us.  Fairy tales, especially Snow White and Cinderella, are Christian stories from Christian cultures, and children need to hear them.  I have nothing against Xena, but it's junk food where the fairy tales are meat.  Let me show you what I mean:

There is a woman living in paradise with her Father until a powerful, evil force (who is jealous of their relationship) decides to kill her.  First the evil separates the woman from her Father, then the evil lies to the woman about how a poisoned apple will be good for her.  When the poisoned apple has killed the woman, a powerful Prince comes along, who says the woman is not dead, but asleep, and wakes her up by loving her back to life.

Now, you've heard that story before: but is it Genesis 2 and Lazarus or is it Snow White?  Snow White is closer to the Biblical originals than some of the VeggieTales Smile

Cinderella, on the other hand, is the other end of the story: a woman in a fallen world tries to be good, anyway, loving her unlovable family.  When the time comes, she meets the One who can bring her from the broken place where she is into His Kingdom.

Every child (of both genders) needs to be looking for Prince Charming, because He is Christ.  Our Savior uses words about royalty and kingdoms and marriage all through the Gospels, and also in the Prophets and Revelation.  Fairy tales are using God's own parable language.

And while not every movie version of a story gets the point across very well, in the real stories there is a lot about this life not being perfect, and doing the right thing even when it's hard and thankless and even punished.  Fairy godmothers don't come to jerks, or else curse them with terrible punishments.

Sometimes in this life it's hard to remember where our reward is coming, and fairy tales are encouragements, giving us a concrete image to hold on to when we need extra encouragement.

I'd encourage you to look at Andrew Lang's amazing collection of fairy and folk tales from around the world.  Not all of them are from Christian countries, but there's many very Christian stories that you won't hear from mainstream sources.  Here's a link to one book of his collection (The Yellow Fairy Book) available free online:
Since his collection is now out of copyright, you can find the rest of volumes at the same site.

This has turned into something of an essay Smile  Thanks for reading it.  The short version is:  PLEASE do encourage and enjoy fairy tales, because we are made for a perfect life, we are made to long for heaven and to live there.  REAL life is perfect, and we should not settle for for this earthly substitute.  While some may say fairy tales set up only to disappoint, we should not live like people who have no hope.
9/15/2011 9:42:51 AM
Joy Wattenbarger United States
Joy Wattenbarger
Hi Amanda,

I was a little saddened to hear your comments about princesses this morning. I'm a youth minister who specialized in women's ministry and the Disney princesses have become one of the most successful tools I've found in evangelizing young women. So much so, that I developed "Princessology" - a "theology of princesses" as I believe that these "fairytales" lead us to the heart of a woman's desire...the Lord! Below, is a "little" explanation:

What is “Princessology?”

Princessology is the study of princesses, specifically the way that understanding the truths, beauty, goodness and virtue of princesses can speak to the deepest desires and treasures of women’s hearts.  This study seeks to help women come to a deeper understanding of their own femininity and relationship with the Lord, as His Beloved Princesses.

How it all got started…

“If I’m honest, I have to tell you, I still read fairytales and I like them best of all.”  This quote from Audrey Hepburn speaks deeply to my heart…because I am one of “those” women.  From as early as I can remember, I have loved princesses.  As a little girl, I would spend hours playing dress up, wearing long flowing, usually pink, dresses, with high heeled shoes that were many sizes too big and crowns made of whatever I could find.  Sometimes these crowns were made of flowers, sometimes glitter-covered paper, and occasionally an authentic plastic princess crown, complete with gems of various colors and shapes.  It didn’t matter the dress I was wearing, the shoes, or what the crown looked like, all that mattered was that, for a little while, I was a princess.  I don’t remember exactly the games that I played and I’m sure that oftentimes, I wasn’t even imagining a “princess life”…all I know is that everything was more fun as a princess.  Household chores, homework, taking care of my younger siblings; everything could easily become a part of this great adventure when I was a princess.  And it didn’t stop with dress up, I had princess sheets, princess dolls and spent more hours than I could count watching princess movies.

And apparently, I’m not the only one.  How do we know that girls love princesses?  In 2001, Andy Mooney was hired by Disney to help combat dropping sales.  After observing young girls dressed as Princesses, he decided to create the Disney Princess line.  “Despite limited advertising and no focus groups, the various Disney Princess items released became a huge success. Sales at Disney Consumer Products rose from $300 million in 2001 to $3 billion in 2006.”[1]

There were a few years during high school that I forgot about the Princesses.  Maybe because in my more self-centered moments, people made comments like, “Who do you think you are, a princess?”  Maybe it was the t-shirts that said “princess” on them that were hung next to the “brat,” “naughty,” and “spoiled” shirts, and the fact that a princess was implied to be some combination of the those things.  Nevertheless, somewhere in there, I got the idea that it was not desirable to be identified as a “princess.”

Fortunately, during my first year of college, my love of them was renewed.  I decorated my room with “Disney Princess” posters, took online “Which princess are you?” quizzes, and fell in love with the idea of being God’s daughter, a true Princess.  One day, I was talking with a friend about our favorite princesses and why. (Mine is and has always been Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.)  She said something about how there is a reason why we are drawn to princesses, and even a reason why we are drawn more to a specific one.  I was intrigued by this idea, and hence began the study that I now affectionately refer to as “Princessology.”

What’s the big deal with princesses?

As women, there is a reason why we are drawn to fairytales, drawn to the beauty that is found in the life and love story of a princess.  To begin, God is the King of the Universe and being baptized into the family of God, we are His Beloved Daughters.  This makes us Princesses!  Simply by our relationship with God as our Father, we become royalty. Secondly, God created us for a romance. We were created to be part of the greatest love story of all time…the romance between God and humanity.  We were created by God for a love relationship with Him!  That’s right, the King of the Universe loves us and desires for us to respond to Him.  He has a romance and a great adventure…a beautiful and exciting plan for our lives. The longing for this great story is written on our hearts, we are drawn to it from the very beginning of our lives. We desire to be loved and to love another unconditionally.  These are the love stories told by the lives of the princesses.  This is the reason that we love fairytales; they reflect the truth that is written deep in our hearts.

God created us with a beautiful purpose!  In her book Captivating[2], Stasi Eldridge talks about how there are three desires are written on a woman’s heart, a desire to be romanced, to be part of a great adventure, and to have a beauty to unveil. A relationship with Christ and a life lived as a vibrant and passionate Christian woman fulfills all of these desires.  First of all, we are loved and pursued by Christ, our Beloved Prince.  He chases us and sacrifices everything, even His very life, for our love.  Secondly, we play an important and unique role in this adventurous love story.  Christ desires our response of love to Him.  God’s heart waits and longs specifically for your unique “yes” to His love.  He has an important role in salvation history that can only be fully realized in your life and your response to Him.  You also reflect the beauty of the image of God in a way that only you are able.  Both in your physical appearance, as well as in your soul, you have a unique beauty to give to the world.  This beauty is a gift that can be used to draw others to God, but you must make a choice to share it.  No one reflects God’s beauty in the distinctive way that you do, but you must be willing to unveil your beautiful reflection of God to the world.

So which one is your favorite?

I don’t know about you, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a favorite princess.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s Belle, from Beauty and the Beast.  I love everything about Belle, I always have.  There was just something about her gentle smile, her brown hair, her beautiful voice…I wanted to be just like Belle when I grew up.  When someone asked me who my favorite princess was, there was never any hesitation.  I would quickly respond, “Belle!” followed immediately by a monologue on why Belle was obviously the best princess.  It was obvious, so I thought.  She was just so beautiful, in so many ways, how could you not love her?  Therefore, when my friend mentioned that there is a reason why we love certain princesses, I was curious.  She recommended that I spend some time praying about my favorite princess and asking the Lord to reveal to me why I was so drawn to her.  (I’ll have more of what I learned about Belle in the lesson on Beauty and the Beast, don’t worry.)  So I prayed about it.  Yes, I prayed about a fictional Disney character.  And thus came “Princessology.”

I believe that if we think about it, each of us can think of a princess that speaks to our heart in a special way.  It doesn’t matter if it seems to be only for superficial reasons; I believe that there is still truth that can be discovered through it.  So think about it.  Which one is your “favorite?”  In addition, don’t be discouraged if your favorite is not a “classic Princess” – one of my friends “favorite princess” is Nala the Lion (from the Lion King) and other’s are Alice (Alice and Wonderland), Anastasia (Anastasia), and Maid Marian (Robin Hood).  The point is that there are certain unique, true, good, and beautiful qualities about each of these women that draws our hearts to them.

When teaching “princessology,” it is important to emphasize the importance of allowing the Lord to speak to each woman’s heart individually.  Although I have reflected upon and compiled objective virtues and themes that can be found in each of the films that will be helpful in teaching, it is through prayer that they can “make it their own.”  There is a reason why we are attracted to certain princesses more than others and we must allow the Lord to “lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her” (Hosea 2:14).  It is in this time spent with the Lord that He will be able to show each woman the unique and beautiful way that the princesses’ story reflects her relationship with him.  Although there may be common themes, this is not doctrine or Sacred Scripture.  Two women could easily come up with two different “interpretations” of what the Lord is saying to them through the same fairytale.

Although many women can easily identify their favorite, or the one with whom they feel that they can relate to the most, it can still be beneficial to learn about the other princesses.  There are virtues and truths reflected in each movie that can help us gain an understanding of godly womanhood.

Something to think about…

I also want to point out and remind you that these movies are not perfect.  They are not flawless reflections of godly womanhood or Christian virtue.  However, they do contain many good and beautiful truths from which we can learn.  This guide seeks to take something that has become a cultural icon and make it something that can help girls and women better understand their hearts and the great romance into which the Lord desires to draw them.  With this, I have tried to connect the virtues of the Princesses to different Marian virtues, in an effort to show Mary as the true model of holy and vibrant femininity.

Some women may struggle with feeling as if they don’t have a favorite princess.  One of my friends was very skeptical of the idea of princessology at first, tried to blow it off, but couldn’t get it out of her head.  So she reluctantly began reflecting on various princesses and found herself frustrated that none of them seemed to fit.  Finally, she thought of one that somewhat appealed to her, not perfectly, but more than any of the others.  Encouraged by another friend, she prayed about it and realized that the princess fit her a lot more than she thought it did.  She ended up watching the movie, praying, and reflecting more about it, applying it to her life and various aspects of her relationship with the Lord and others.  So, even if you or one of the people you are sharing this with are skeptical, it can still be a tool that God uses to speak, if we chose to be open.

(Note: Most of the princesses that I explain and use in princessology happen to be Disney princesses, simply because these are many of the princesses with whom most people are familiar.  However, the theory and application of “princessology” is certainly not limited to Disney princesses.)

Along with this idea, some may feel that they do not relate to the image of “princess.”  It is important to help them understand that they don’t need to wear pink dresses all of the time in order to learn and grow from the Princesses.  First of all, not all of the princesses are extremely “girly,” and secondly, being feminine is more than an exterior appearance, it is a deep understanding of the heart.  A truly feminine soul can be portrayed in many different ways through different women.  There is no one “perfect woman,” just as there is no one “perfect princess.”  It is because of this that the princesses can help us come to an understanding and appreciation of various models and reflections of true and beautiful femininity.

Some people have a hard time with the image of “princess” because they feel that it makes women weak and helpless, constantly in need of being rescued.  I don’t believe that this is true for several different reasons.  First of all, the princesses reflect women who use their gifts in order to help those that they love.  They fiercely protect those that they love and are willing to sacrifice and take risks in times of need.  However, they also have an understanding of what it means to be receptive in welcoming and honoring the strength of the men in their lives.  This choice to allow oneself to be cared for and protected by another is an expression of true feminine strength that I believe the princesses model beautifully.

Getting started…

In order to understand the study of princesses it’s important to first understand the context of these stories.  Every great fairytale has four main characters, The Loving Father (representing God the Father), The Prince (representing Jesus, our true Prince), the Villain (representing Satan), and the Princess (representing you!).  Having this framework helps us to understand and pull themes from the story.  Different characters are emphasized more or less in different ways in different stories.  Sometimes the characters are not as clear, and sometimes secondary characters can play significant roles in drawing out themes.  Be creative and open to receiving insight about each of the princesses’ story, both from those who specifically love that princess, as well as from the Lord.

If you're interested in seeing an example and analogy of this, check out my website:
Literally, you'll never see fairytales the same way again. Smile

So, basically, the point that I'm trying to make is that it's beautiful and wonderful that your daughter loves princesses...because it will ultimately lead her to her true beloved Prince, Our Lord. Smile

May God bless you and your little girl(s?)!
9/15/2011 10:05:34 AM
Maya United States
Hi Amanda I also heard you discussing this on Klove yesterday, and was wondering if you were familiar with Sheri Rose Shepherd and His princess ministries My daughter is 3 and knows now that she is a real princess, a princess of God.  She asks me to read the Love Letter from God Little Princess book to her because she wants to hear about "God's gifts". I was so fortunate to hear Sheri Rose speak at a conference last year and remind myself that I am God's princess as well.
9/15/2011 11:10:55 AM
Lisa Kelly United States
Lisa Kelly
Hi Amanda,

I heard you speaking about whether or not fairytales give us good role models.  I laughed, because a friend of mine was just joking the other day about whether or not the Little Mermaid was a good life lesson for her daughter.  Disobey your parents enough, and eventually you will get everything you have ever dreamed off!  Ha!  I don't honestly have a strong opinion on this matter, though I think a good princess movie has never strayed a good christian.  I did however want to share something with you regarding christian role models for children.

My son is a typical eight year old that likes Spider-man, SuperMan and any super hero.  He is sooo impressed with their powers to save the world.  I let him indulge these interests with no hesitation.  However, I also balance it by telling him many stories of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I have shared with him miraculous stories from the bible as well as miraculous stories from the lives of our friends and family.  He is amazed by the ultimate saving power of Jesus, because he knows that those stories are actually true.  I told him that Jesus is the biggest super hero of all and he totally agreed.  There is a wonderful book out there that you may want to recommend to your listeners with young impressionable children.  It is called "The Action Bible"  It is a fantastic book that draws the attention of adults and children, more so boys.  Forgive me as I may be innacurate with the exact details here, but the book features something like 200 stories from the bible.  The stories are written in chronilogical order.  The stories that are featured represent some of the most amazing battles and miracles of the bible.  The entire book is done in commic book style.  Infact, I believe that the artist who did the amazing pictures, has also done work for Marvel.  Don't quote me on that.  The comic book style drawings make these true stories of the bible look as cool as Spiderman, and much easier for a child to understand.  I bought this book for my nephew's first communion and he was as thrilled to receive it, as he would have been to receive a new Nintendo DS game!  It was the talk of the party.  I plan on buying it for my son's first communion this year.  A great way to make our true life hero, cool in the eyes of a child.  I hate to keep such a great book and learning tool a secret.
9/15/2011 11:52:50 AM
Stephanie United States
I do agree that life is not a fairy tale, but I for one still believe that "someday my Prince will come" as well as my earthly prince.  I am not giving up on love and know that one day my fairytale will come true. Even if it is not like the fairytales we watch.
9/15/2011 11:53:30 AM
Jennifer United States
I was listening this am & I feel the same way about Snow White. I have to be honest I havent watched the entire thing, even as a kid I never watched it. We caught the tail end of it a few days ago. I thought it was creepy to see her in what looked like a casket the she "woke up" again.

As for good girl role models for girls so young, we like Gigi- God's princess books, we also like Pinkalicious. We arent so much into the Disney princess stuff yet(my daughter is almost3) & I am in no rush, I am just not a big fan of them.

9/15/2011 1:12:40 PM
Jackie United States
I wasn't must into the disney princess thing when I was a little girl. I didn't want to sit and wait for some guy to be getting to have all the fun of slaying dragons and all the fun stuff while I was up in a tower waiting for him to come get me. However when the Lion King came out you can bet that VHS tape got worn out. Now looking back it had so many parrells to my life. I put myself in Simbas shoes seeking adventure, full of life, wondering where I fit in. Scar is what I see as my sin. Sin that I felt like kept me exiled from a family of believers I had grow up with. I think the scene that still really touches my heart is when simba is trapped in a herd with no way out and Mufasa rescues him then Scar killed Mufasa like my sin put Christ on the cross. I also love at the end when Simba takes his place as a leader like how we are meant to lead others to Christ. I think Casting Crowns said it best, 'we were meant to be courageous, we were meant to lead the way'.
    My Mom used to tell me to remember when I'm watching movies like Cinderella and Snow White that no guy is perfect. She would say they can love you like crazy but they will make mistakes and let you down, she said love is work not just happily every after. But I have a God who is perfect, who will never let me down, will never forsake me. Even though keeping my relationship with God so strong does take work I also have the promise of an eternity in heaven. I don't know what your definition of 'happily ever after' is but eternity in heaven is definatly mine.
9/15/2011 5:22:10 PM
Cindy United States
Hi Amanda,
My 19 year old daughter called me at work and said you have to write Amanda on K-love about princesses and fairy tales.  So I'll try and tell you why the plot of fairy tales is really His story for the heart of us girls.  

First of all I love watching how special my 5 year old granddaughter feels when she puts on a princess outfit complete with the crown and wand.  It is magical, and she really believes and delights in being a princess.  There is nothing comparable to the belief system of a child.  It makes me understand why Christ said you must have faith like a little child.  They really have it going.

Secondly It is only evil that makes us doubt who we are in Christ.  We are His beloved (princess) He adores us and we are His treasure.  Go ahead delight in it.  I for one would have saved myself decades of grief had I always believed that I was this special.

Yes you are right. Life is full of disapointment and princesses have their share of problems with the evil plots against them.  But what we can learn from fairytales is hope.  Without hope our hearts become hardened and we stop believing in what God can do.  "I know the thoughts I think towards you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29: 11).

Yes one day we will be in the "kingdom" of Glory with our heavenly Father, but He also came for us to have an abundant life.  I am living proff that He does give us our prince and our greatest hearts desire even when we don't deserve it.  It would take a book "or fairytale" to explain all the details, but I was reunited with the love of my life my high school sweetheart through the most unusual circumstances that had Christ's footprints all over it.  No my prince in not perfect, but my God is and I know my prince is a gift to me from God and that is a dream come true!
So in the words of Disney "A Dream is a wish your heart makes."  Keep on Dreamin!        
9/16/2011 9:50:36 AM
Tammy A. United States
Tammy A.
Hi Amanda!  I heard you talk about this on K-Love yesterday and understand your concern.  What immediately entered my mind was that maybe you could use the fairy-tales as a parallel to teach your daughters that they are just fun stories, but that they are princesses, too.  Their Prince Charming?  -  Christ, of course!  What a wonderful real-life tale!   Smile
Keep up the GREAT work as a mom and a K-Love DJ!
Tammy A.
9/16/2011 6:03:27 PM
Melissa H. United States
Melissa H.
Hi Amanda,

I only caught a portion of this on the radio yesterday, as I was on my way to work. As far as princesses are concerned, I tend to agree with many of the other women who have already commented here. As a single mother of three small children too, I encourage you to use every opportunity to draw parallels between Christ's love for us and whatever may be at hand. God gives us the ability and the responsibility to be our childrens' first teacher. It is in the way we walk that our relationship with Him is seen. If you can take a movie and personalize it for your daughter, and then relate it to your own life and your walk with Christ, it will become more real to your precious child. My oldest child is a 9yr old girl, and my relationship with her has grown immensely since I chose to be transparent with her. I have watched her begin a walk with the Lord that I pray will grow to a depth beyond mine. My 5 yr old son, on the other hand, has a relationship that I would like to have! He often draws parallels from his favorite super hero and relates to me how it is like Jesus' love for him!

My prayers are with you and your children!
9/17/2011 5:48:24 PM
Nana United States
Dear Amanda, I am a believer in Christ for 34 years. I was married for 18 years to an abusive christian man. I am now divorced for 16 years.  I have 3 children from that marriage. I have 2 grandchildren who are babies. Life has been hard, sad and lonly but I know that I belong to Christ and this life is not all there is. Stay in relationship with Christ and trust that He works all things for our good.  I believe that Christ can be our only Prince of Peace.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I will pray for you and ask that you pray for me also.  There are no easy answers to what we face in divorce as christian women.
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