Heels – Diverse Women and Their Fairy Tales
with your address)
Gang spent the past two months introducing our new logo and letting you see how
diverse we are over something simple:
red shoes. Not only are we different in the present, but we were raised
on different fairy tales, folklore and cultural stories. Thinking back, we
decided to share with you an early one we can remember and tell you why it was
Judy Penz Sheluk – My Mom wasn’t big on reading me fairy tales, but I remember
making her read Heidi to me so many times that if she tried to skip a few pages,
I’d tell her she missed something and made her backtrack. I remember it being a story of family,
friendship, hope and happy endings.
because from a very early age I spent summers with an aunt and uncle whose
house was on the edge of woods where I played with cousins and siblings. A
ramshackle cabin miles from the house (really less than a football field) made
it easy to imagine the witch lurking nearby.
Paula Gail Benson – Cinderella has a firm
hold on me. I wore a Cinderella Halloween costume for years and, when I began
teaching short story workshops, Cinderella
was my go-to example for story structure. I guess it’s a female Horatio Alger
story. Ultimately, Cindy wins when she is able to reveal herself.
Dru Ann Love – Your dreams can come true if you work hard for it. Because I
knew I wanted more from life than what was dealt my family. That’s why I was
the first to graduate college, the first to get a full-time job, the first to
travel internationally for pleasure, and the first to own real estate (co-op).
TK Thorne – Snow White and The Seven
Dwarfs because I was hung up on
Cinderella being blonde and the “perfect” girl, and Snow had dark hair like
me. Could I be perfect too, or at least find my prince? Not very feminist
fodder, but that is what we were fed and I swallowed.
Shari Randall – My Italian mom told us the story of Old Befana, the good witch
who flies on her broomstick on January 8, going down chimneys to leave candy
for good children and coal for the naught. Befana was known as the best
housekeeper in the village, so when the Three Wise Men came through (yes, a
side trip to Italy!), following the star in their search for the Christ child,
they stayed at Befana’s house. The next morning, the Magi invited her to join
them on their quest, but Befana wanted to finished her chores first. The Magi
let and soon after Befana ha a change of heart and tried to catch them but she
couldn’t find the three kings. The story
is that even today she still searches for the Child, always with her broom at
her side. I’ve taken that moral to heart – if adventure calls, don’t wait –
leave the housework behind!
Debra H. Goldstein – The Emperor’s New Clothes made a lasting impression on me for the
way in which it mocked hypocrisy, snobbery and social class. The child’s honest
cry that the Emperor is wearing no clothes versus the individuals who wouldn’t
speak out, including the Emperor, for fear of appearing stupid stuck with me.
It was the first time, even though I couldn’t put it into words, that I
realized the importance of speaking the truth – even when it isn’t popular or
goes against a prevailing rhetoric.
Linda Rodriguez – Some of the earliest tales and teaching stories that I recall
came from my Cherokee grandmother, who was a huge influence in my early life.
One of the most influential was the story of Stoneskin, a giant cannibal who
ravaged the Cherokee, the early people. In the story, the Cherokee fought
against him by arranging one menstruating woman after another in front of him,
until the power of them overwhelmed him. As he lay dying, he told them all
kinds of secrets and medicine lore, which became the foundation of the Cherokee
traditional medicine teaching. So, much that is truly important about
traditional Cherokee culture comes from a dying monster killed by a the power
of women, who are capable of getting pregnant and giving birth. That story told
me as a young child that there was power in the female, even though the world
around me said that women and girls were weak and powerless.
Bethany Maines – I’ve recently been re-reading fairy tales and somehow I didn’t
remember them being as horrible as they are. Rape, murder, incest, lots of
removing of limbs and for some reason turning into rose bushes. The one I liked as a kid were the Arabian
Nights. I think it was Ali-Baba where the maid poured boiling oil on the forty
thieves hidden in the oil jars. The hero seemed like an idiot and the maid saved
the day. Somehow, the idea of boiling a bunch of guys in oil didn’t seem as
horrific to me then as it does now.
J.M. Phillippe – Growing up, I was greatly impacted by the “Ugly Duckling”
story. The message I took from it then was that if I was feeling like an
outsider, I just had to wait to find my own personal “tribe” – the group who
saw me for who I was and wanted me to be a part of them.
Kay Kendall – Once upon a time, when I was in first grade, my father brought
home a full set of The American Peoples
Encyclopedia. He also sprang for the related sets of adventure stories and
fairy tales. I treasured the entries in the regular encyclopedia but fell hard
for the fairy tales. The one that sticks in my mind still – and not one of the
more common ones at that – is “The Princess on the Glass Hill.” I now know that
this was a Norse tale. It featured handsome horses that helped the hero get up
to the top of the slippery glass hill to win the fair maiden’s hand in
marriage. Illustrations of the horses were gorgeous and won my heart. I was a
horse-crazy little girl.
Cathy P. Perkins – I didn’t grow up on fairy tales. Instead, my brother fed me a
stead diet of science fiction. I desperately wanted to be either an astronaut
and explore space or move onto Pern, bond with my very own dragon, and save my
people from Thread.
Juliana Aragon Flatula – I love the story of how the moon and stars were created when
Huitzilopochtli slayed his sister the moon and his 400 brothers the stars and
cut them into pieces and threw them to the heavens. This is why the moon has
Julie Mulhern – I was an early feminist. I didn’t understand why Disney
princesses’ happy endings were dependent on princes. Snow White? I did not buy
into the idea of cleaning up after seven men. How stupid did she have to be to
eat that apple? And how shallow is a prince who falls in love with her based on