The Wicked Step Mother

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When I ask you to think about a mother, what do you think of? Most would think of their mother and all of the fond memories of their childhood. One thinks of nurturing, softness, loving, and selflessness. Now, if I was to ask you to think about a stepmother, what comes to mind? Most people think of cunning, crafty, conniving, selfishness, and wickedness. Have you ever thought about how the stepmother gets this bad wrap?

As children we are practically brainwashed by Disney fairy tales that help us label stepmothers as wicked or evil. In these Disney movies we never see the stepmother portrayed as urturing, soft, loving, and especially not selfless. This does a disservice to all blended families today and to those of the future. Walt Disney’s first full length animated movie was Snow White. In this film Disney never refers to Snow White’s stepmother as anything but the “jealous stepmother,” the “evil queen,” or just the “queen. ” Disney never even gives her a name. In the original version, Disney had planned to portray her as the comic relief, but that was not the version that was decided upon (Windling). Instead, she was evil. This evil stems from her jealousies. She covets the beauty of Snow White.

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She also is extremely jealous of the loving relationship her deceased husband had with his daughter. Windling states, “Walt Disney was fond of fairy tales, but he was not shy in reshaping them to suit his needs. His love for Snow White, demonstrated at the very beginning of the Disney film, becomes the spark that sets off the powder keg of the stepmother’s rage. ” Following in the footsteps of Disney’s precious Snow White was Cinderella. As this fairy tale starts, Cinderella loses her father as well and is left subject to the harsh jealousies of her wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine. Cinderella seems victimized and rapped by the harsh, controlling nature of her stepmother.

Disney always staged Lady Tremaine with dark lighting, vicious eyes, and scary music. Even her evil cat, Lucifer, was named after the devil. Disney is also quick to portray the condescending nature of the stepmother. Lady Tremaine always sent Cinderella to do housework and answer her every beckon call. Cinderella was also forced to obey her stepsisters. Tsujimoto argues that the “underlying ideologies…. excludes maternal wisdom. ” She also argues that these stories back the idea that “moral authority exists exclusively with the father/father-figures. Is this really the message we want to teach our children? Over many decades, Disney has taken many well known fairy tales and changed them to “suit his needs” (Windling). There have been “critics through the years have protested the sweeping changes Disney Studios made, and continue to make…” Walt Disney himself replied to these critics by saying, “It’s just that people now don’t want fairy stories the way they were written. In the end they’ll probably remember the story the way we film it anyway” (Windling).

Disney basically says that the public is not smart to think or themselves. He tries to manipulate them into seeing things the way he intends them to. Many years later Disney’s fairy tales are the ones that are predominantly watched and advertised. Disney has yet to publish a fairy tale where the stepmother is portrayed as loving or compassionate. “Even in Disney’s Cinderella (and) Snow White… paternal images ranged from the powerful to the lovable. In contrast, these same stories portray evil stepmothers pitted against powerless daughters, who find their only validation in the arms of a prince. ” Is this not a dangerous message Disney sends? …From an adolescence point of view, that minimizes maternal goodness and wisdom and that suggests that trading mothers for princes is a step toward maturity” (Tsujimoto). Being a stepmother myself, and having friends who are stepmothers, I know firsthand how tough it is to blend two families into one. I have never known a stepmother to send out a huntsman to kill and bring back organs of the child as proof that he/she has been murdered.

I have never known of a stepmother to initiate an argument between children and leave a child devastated and embarrassed in nothing but rags. On the other ide of the argument, I have known situations where a stepmother has been accused of being unfair or victimizing a stepchild where she had every intention of doing just the opposite. I have known of situations where a stepmother has been reduced to tears because of the repercussion of the unfair label of the “wicked stepmother. ” I have also been on the other side where one, or both, of my stepchildren have called me “Mom” with out the step prefix. Was it Disney’s intention to teach decades of generations of children to view stepmothers as harsh and evil?

Was it Disney’s intention to deprive a single father and his ew bride of their happily ever after? Ultimately Disney was in the business of making money. He consistently chose the easy way out in picking his villains. Now, if I was to ask you to think about a stepmother, what comes to mind? Do you think of a loving, vulnerable woman who is working hard to make her blended family successful? Somehow, I doubt it. One with so much power as Walt Disney should bring the masses positive views of all mothers, including stepmothers. Our culture needs a few fairy tales which change our perception of these women so that our blended families will have a better chance for a successful future.

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The Wicked Step Mother. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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