Fairy Tales have been an important part of my childhood. I grew up reading tales of Cinderella and Snow White. However, now that I look back I realise that all those tales had the same story; there was a damsel in distress who was waiting for her prince charming to save her.

The reasons why patriarchy is so ingrained in our society is because from a very young age women are taught that they are weak and that they need men to help them, while boys are taught that they need to be strong and should always take the lead. We all love Fairy tales but the kind of messages that these tales were sending out had to change which meant the stories themselves had to change.

It was always my dream to create fairy tales with strong, independent and realistic characters.

It was always my dream to create fairy tales with strong, independent and realistic characters so that other little girls could have role models that I never had. Thus, New Age Fairy Tales was born.  “New Age Fairy Tales” is a modern retelling of age-old fairy tales, to empower girls in their childhood. Gone are the days of damsels in distress now the princesses save themselves. There are five stories: The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. Each story has a modern twist, addressing current social issues faced by girls in Indian society.

I decided to make all my characters Indian because I grew up reading stories from the west, and never had characters that looked like me.

These stories hope to impart values of equality, empowerment and feminism to our girls. I decided to make all my characters Indian because I grew up reading stories from the west, and I never had characters that looked like me. Hence, I made sure that my stories appeal to the readers. The Little Mermaid is about body shaming and how you need not change yourself for anyone else.

Indians have always had an unhealthy obsession with being fair. Thus, in Snow White, the princess isn’t as white as snow, in fact, her skin sports all the skin tones. The story aims to teach little ones to appreciate the beauty and diversity of all skin tones. In Sleeping Beauty, the princess gets tired of waiting for a prince to come and slay the dragon and thus does it herself. Through ‘Beauty and the Beast’ children learn that looks can be deceiving. It celebrates intelligence and instil the phrase, “Brains is the new Beauty” in young girls. ‘Cinderella’ is about the wage gap and equal rights. She doesn’t obtain the empire through marriage, she builds her own (business) empire.

Even if I’m able to impact one little girl’s life who can grow up to be an empowered woman, I know that I would have done something right through my art.

It was important for me to create something for children as I feel that for the feminist movement to be sustainable, it needs to grow in the hearts of little children. Such books play an important role in developing the children of today into responsible and well-informed adults of tomorrow. Even if I’m able to impact one little girl’s life who can grow up to be an empowered woman, I know that I would have done something right through my art.

Ariana Gupta is a student of Class 12. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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