happily ever after. again…

Wedding season is upon us, and it made me think about the notion of happily ever after, grand events and great dresses. Pinterest I’m convinced, was specifically made for this time of year. And of course you can’t think about happily ever after without thinking about the origin of that phrase.

Earlier this year Cinderella dominated the box-office globally. No shocker there. We all know how it all goes down. Peasant wench scores a major come-up when she catches the eye of a royal suitor. I’m not mad Cindy. At. All. What’s your secret girl? She leaned in and snagged a prince! She’s in love and it’s under new management. The entire kingdom celebrates this love revelry. Coincidentally, another box office hit during this time was also a Cinderella story. With a side of S&M. Psst. Not mad at her either.

My personal favorite is the version starring Drew Barrymore, Ever After. The prince is enamored with her mind, captivated by her intellectual prowess. They have clandestine daytime dates in the library. My kinda rawr factor! There’s a lot less twinkle effect, and Danielle, as she’s named in this adaptation, is her own heroine.

We don’t grow old of the story. Look how long it has survived, the many incarnations and cultural adaptations. There’s a fantastic article on NPR.org which recounts the history and several world variations.

Some women (and men) fiercely reject it all and don’t want to be rescued. They don’t subscribe to happily ever after via a handsome prince. We’re living in a time where the options for women are seemingly limitless. Yet the flip-side of the narrative hinges on the boundaries we still have yet to breach. These are interesting times we live in. The constructs of modern living clash head-on with so-called tradition. Think about household dynamics, gender roles are more fluid than ever. The lines of tradition have long been blurred and the demands of modern living outpace conventional thought. Sometimes it’s the “Prince” that needs saving. And we’re not just talking about earning power or station in life specifically. See again, the S&M version.

I think this fairytale endures because Cinderella is the ultimate escape. They end the story before the fine print kicks in. How clever. Sold and not told! Happily ever after doesn’t detail sleepless babies, in-laws, recessions, mortgages. Nothing about commuting, career slumps, carpooling or play dates. Where’s the pile laundry and the endless trips to the market. No mention of aging parents or nonexistent 401ks. Not a glimpse or hint of a second or third prince. No weighing the options of Vermont and jam with Fitz versus standing in the sun with Jake. What about a duke waiting in the wings or the royal in another kingdom who wants to upgrade the princess? How about that! *blink*

However it goes down, what’s clear is that we also live in a time where we have the power to write and/or rewrite our own happily ever after(math). My version stars Tracee Ellis Ross. Debbie Allen is the Fairy Godmother. Vanessa L. Williams as the stepmother because who else can serve it as ice cold as Wilhelmina Slater. And the stepsisters would be two fabulous stepbrothers instead. Laz Alonso is the Prince, it’s the right thing to do and you’re welcome. Plus that means my version has salsa dancing. Like this.

And while I’m at it, there is also pernil, moros, maduros and empanadas. Oh and mojitos.

Despite the known spoilers, I caught the latest version before it left theaters. I was there for the fashion. Prior to seeing it there was countless press on the costume design. Have you seen the stills from the royal ball? Stunning. I do not exactly know where I’m going to wear one but yeah, I need a full-on ball gown with major twirl factor!

The latest version had all the usual suspects; friendly mice, a fairy, carriages made from giant gourds, mean girls, and benevolent royals in tandem with a recurring message that being kind and having courage is the key to it all, ever after. And of course the requisite reminder that with a little magic, anything is possible.

Even if you know how the story ends, and you’ve lived your own version(s), sometimes you just want to cheer for the girl who had her moment in a fabulous dress and the enchantment of it all.




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