In honor of International Women’s Day 2021, I thought I’d post one of the illustrations I’d done years ago for that most famous of fairy tales, Cinderella. Many women don’t like the Cinderella story, feeling like it perpetuates the stereotype of the frailer sex in need of the protection and salvation of a man. To me, that interpretation has always missed the point of this most enduring cultural tale of women’s empowerment. It was never about the prince.
Self-Empowerment has always seemed to me to be the real story of Cinderella. She dared, DARED to imagine herself a queen even as she was living in a state of abject servitude for her survival. That belief was an act of power! She dared to assume an identity for herself beyond the abusive situation that life had put her in: penniless, orphaned, without education, without options, and totally dependent on the cruel second family of her deceased father.
Despite the daily drudgery and life of hopelessness, when the universe offered her a chance to go to the ball, she took her shot, risking everything to assume her true, powerful identity until midnight. Think about what could have happened if she were discovered there, an imposter – death for sure, and possible torture. Yet she went. She put on the dress and she cloaked herself in the identity of a noblewoman. And then, she entered that ball room completely alone. I’m uncomfortable showing up to a friend’s party alone, yet here she went, determined that she belonged there, in the company of the most powerful people in her world, knowing that she could be killed if discovered. There was safety in the cinders, and nothing but danger at the palace. She chose danger. She took her shot.
How many unknown and unseen women are in this same situation today? How many women are taking that chance, putting themselves in danger, asserting their humanity, asserting their equality? Those women are the heroes of International Women’s Day. Those women are the modern Cinderellas.
And by the way, who helped Cinderella get to the ball? In almost all of the over 345 variants of the story, it’s her fairy godmother. Women helping women. As more and more women take ownership of our power, it is up to us to help other women do the same. And together we can let the prince know, you had your time to rule; we’ll take it from here.
Here is a link to some empowerment quotes from some strong women: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Missions/15539/Empowerment-quotes-from-women-leaders
And here is a link to a small fund raiser I created from a drawing made at the Women’s March in 2017: https://society6.com/verolawlor
All profits from these sales are donated to the National Organization of Women.
Happy International Women’s Day!