Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Psychology of Snow White

Fairy Tale.
Princess.
Poison Apple.
The Seven Dwarfs.

Chances are these are the words that spring into your mind when thinking of Snow White. I find that a different set of vocabulary appears in my mind when pondering about the fairest of them all.

Survivor.
Bravery.
Beauty.
Strength.

You read that first word right. Survivor. Probably not the first thing you think of. Allow me to explain by taking a deeper look into one of the most popular fairy tales of all time.




When I was a little girl my parents took my siblings and I to see Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in theatres. Even before seeing the film I took an immediate liking to Snow because like me, she had dark hair. In fairy tales the heroines were often blond in both Disney versions and storybooks. It wasn't until 1989 when "The Little Mermaid" was released that we saw a non blond princess. The 80's were saturated with blond Hollywood Starlets and characters such as She-Ra, Rainbow Bright and Jem's true identity, Jerrica Benton. Just about every fashion doll and baby doll was blond haired and blue eyed. Being dark haired, I literally felt like a black sheep because I didn't represent what was considered beautiful. I was often told by classmates that my dark hair was ugly. Luckily I could look to such characters as Snow White and Wonder Woman to relate to. I also had my mother and her sisters who were all very beautiful and dark haired. In the 2012 film "Mirror Mirror" starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, there is a scene where the Queen grabs SnowWhite's locks and pulls it  cruelly. She tell her that she hates her hair. Watching that scene gave me flashbacks to my childhood bullies. It was something I could very much relate to.  Snow White was treated poorly for many reasons, one of them being that she looked different.  As a child I loved the Disney version of Snow because of it's charm. As I grew older, I read and watched many different adaptations of the story and discovered that it had a much deeper meaning than just a jealous stepmother. Snow White was a survivor.






I think everyone can admit that they were bullied at one point in their life.  It could have been because of your looks, your religion, your sexuality, your race, pretty much anything. You were the target of someones misguided hate. Maybe they were even jealous of you. And we have all fallen on hard times. Loosing a loved one, a breakup, financial trouble or periods where it seems like everything is going wrong. There are times when life knocks you down and you have to struggle to pick yourself  back up. One of the things that can help you get your life back on track and give you strength is the help and support of loved ones. Having a goal set and keeping a positive attitude combined with hard work can lead to a path of happiness. Snow's father was murdered. After the devastating loss of her loved one she was then evicted from her home and lead to the woods to be killed like a pig lead to slaughter. She was given a second chance and her life was spared. Homeless and without her father, Snow had to start over. Luckily enough, she found a support system with the seven dwarfs. She was on a path to rebuilding her life when she was tricked into eating a poisoned apple which put her into a comatose state. It appeared that her story had come to a tragic end. As fate would have it, she was awoken with true loves kiss and found eternal happiness with her soul mate.



As I stated before, there are different versions of the story. In the 2001 TV film "Snow White: The Fairest of Them All", starring Kristin Kreuk and Miranda Richardson, the Prince was turned into a Bear. Snow White's father didn't perish. He acquired his position as King through a wish granted by a Genie. In "Mirror Mirror" Snow never ate the apple and instead made her stepmother take a slice of the poisoned fruit. In the television show "Once Upon A Time", our princess is played by Ginnfer Goodwin and the series takes many brilliant liberties with the story of Snow White and displays her courage and survival skills like we've never seen before. I am not naive enough to say that all of life's problems can be cured with true loves kiss or talking animals but the core of Snow White's tale is something I think everyone can relate to. We can also learn from it. No matter how cruel life is, no matter how dark or how hopeless it may seem, we have to push forward. If it hits us, hit it back and show that you won't let it defeat you. You are stronger than that. Life can give us so much more than  misery. You can have happiness and you can survive. If a princess who lost everything can do it, surely you can. 





Now this brings me to the topic of costuming. It's safe to say that Snow is one of my heroes. Choosing her as my next cosplay was an easy selection but when it came time to research the project, I began to hesitate. I've seen many racists comments online regarding my costumes. A few that pop into mind are one person who said I didn't deserve to wear the Supergirl costume because I looked like a  "Jessica Alba, Sue Storm ruining chick." One person said my Catwoman cosplay was nearly perfect except for the fact that "she isn't white."  I thought for sure I would be met with an onslaught of complaints that a Latina could not portray Snow White. This troubled me so much that I actually postponed my costume plans but then I realized how foolish it would be to abandon my project. The color of my skin isn't a disability and I wasn't going to let someone tell me I couldn't do something because I am Puerto Rican. Race doesn't matter to me when it comes to cosplay or anything else I do in my life. It's not an obstacle to overcome.  I've portrayed characters with white skin before and it didn't matter. Why should it matter in this case? The bullies wouldn't ruin this for me, they couldn't take it away from me because I am different. I also had the love and support of my friends.  





After filtering out the negative energy, I proceeded with my plans and arranged a shoot with photographer Piera Lotito.  I choose a location at a nearby art center where coincidentally they had an outdoor Snow White exhibit. During the shoot a group of High School kids were there and upon spotting me in the woods, they took out their cell phones and requested to take photos of me. They didn't seem to mind that I was a Latina and neither did any of the con goers and children I met at the New York Comic Con. Snow White's strength inspired me  to bring her to life the best way I possibly could. I am ecstatic with how the costume came together and am thrilled with the photo set. The costume is made of velvet and satin and was ordered from the Costume Craze website. The dress is in the style of the Disney version. I decided I wanted long hair and thus chose a lace front, long curly wig and added a maroon headband. I brought along props to help flesh out the story in the photos such as an old fashion broom, a wooden apple, basket, sword and some animals. You can view the photo set in the gallery on my website HERE.




When you think of Snow White, where does your mind lead you? Do you think of helpful forest animals or  dwarfs? Do you see her as just another prissy princess? Take another good look at her story. Perhaps you have more in common with her then you realized.

4 comments:

  1. You know its not only Snow White, its all of Grimm's Fairy Tales stories. I mean the original ones, not the adapted or censored ones. There are some really strong messages send as well as a naked display of human nature - both the good and bad sides.

    Anyway, that's a beautiful article, and it shows several aspects of yourself. You are a survivor, you are brave, you are beautiful, you are strong = you are a modern Snow White [ both for what you've written here, and the stuffs you've went through with your cosplay and personal career ;) ]

    :P

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  2. Wonderful, inspiring post. Keep up the writing and cosplaying ;)

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  3. Loved this, that's what Wonder Woman is for me. All those people who said I was "too Hebrew looking" to play Wonder Woman or anybody beautiful at all. Thank you for sharing this. I like Snow even better for it.

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