Childishness, optimism, and naivety pepper the character of Princess Snow White. Her voice is high-pitched; she faces crises “with a smile and a song,” and repeatedly trusts the intentions of strangers. She also enforces unrealistic ideals of beauty with her pore-less skin, unnaturally red lips, and perfectly coifed raven hair. On the surface, Snow White seems hard to embrace as an empowering role-model or representation of women. However, a closer look at the film and this particular princess proves just the opposite. Not only is she a strong figure for women to uniquely emulate, but she’s a role-model for men and women alike.
Let’s consider the opening scene. We peer through the trees at an expansive castle perched on a cliff and as we come nearer, we meet the first character of the story. The Queen appears in the dark confines of the castle. We don’t see her face until it is reflected in the magic mirror. She is introduced within a literal frame of self-consciousness. When the mirror declares that Snow White has surpassed her as “the fairest one of all” a flame of jealousy illumines the severe features of the Queen. Her eyes widen and burn with fear. It isn’t so much that she despises Snow White but that she has failed to achieve and maintain her measure of self-worth. How often have we allowed a mirror, a scale, a test score, or even another person to dictate our own self-worth? The Queen is one villain who deserves our pity rather than our scorn. She’s imprisoned in her own limited perspective of beauty and purpose.
Meanwhile, in the sunny castle courtyard, Snow White hums and smiles as she scrubs a set of steps dressed in rags. She’s surrounded by liberally growing blossoms and fluttering doves—symbols of gentility, peace, and freedom. Except for a brief moment of straightening her rags in the presence of a prince, not once does she exhibit a sense of self-consciousness. In fact, she displays complete confidence in herself and situation. Does this confidence come from her rose-petal skin or ruby lips? Surely not. As the Queen demonstrates, a person cannot maintain a permanent sense of value and confidence on a self-conscious level.
Even when we find Snow White in a heap of helplessness on the forest floor, she quickly turns the situation around. She realizes she never had anything to be afraid of and that she’s surrounded by love. She embraces her new forest friends and trusts that her needs will be met. The woodland critters lead her to the dwarfs’ cottage where she immediately begins to work hard and inspire everyone around her to join in her efforts. She doesn’t expect to receive without giving. What’s more, she knows that simply holding the title of “Princess” doesn’t entitle her to receive everything on a silver platter. She knows that to be a true princess you must care for others more than yourself and work to earn respect.
Finally, despite facing near murder and a potential lifetime secluded in the woods with the dwarfs, Snow White never doubts her “happily ever after.” She embraces her situation and recognizes with gratitude those in her immediate situation that care about her. She lives fearlessly in the moment.
So, as we continue to enjoy the timeless Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, let’s remember that it’s more than a cute classic; it’s a reminder to reject self-consciousness and to measure our worth by the good we do for others; to live in the moment and be grateful to be who you are, where you are! This is true prince and princess-hood.
*Eddy, Mary. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1875. Print.