And if Cinderella had been too busy for the wedding?

Let’s have an irreverent look at the fairy tales that have made us dream in the last fifty years, to see how the image of women and weddings in the animated film has changed from Cinderella to Barbie.

The fairytale princess: the dream of every little girl of yesterday, Woman today, is a cultural heritage that the bride brings with her to the realisation of the wedding. Far from the starting point of pretending to make a sociological study, let’s then play and see how the image of the Woman / the Bride has changed over the years in the cartoons with which whole generations of girls have grown up.

It was 1938 when Disney released its first animation film: Snow White. In addition to singing with the birds of the forest, she is a very good housewife, and it’s in tidying up their house that she wins the affections of the seven dwarfs, who host her in her forced exile. Unfortunately, she has the bad habit of trusting everyone and accepts an apple from a stranger; coincidentally the apple is poisoned. Luckily the great prince comes to rescue her with a kiss (yes: a kiss! Not a diamond!!!).

In 1950 it was the turn of the inimitable Cinderella. She also has the strange habit of singing with the birds, but what blows our mind is the resignation with which she accepts everything: she cleans, mends, and prepares breakfast for her stepmother and stepsisters... but she keeps on believing, no matter how much her heart is grieving.

And indeed this “hoping heart” is rewarded by the Fairy Godmother who turns her into a beautiful princess and allows her to go to the royal ball. How it ends we all know: she runs away from the castle; the glass slipper is lost; the royal edict is made; and the shoe does not fit with any lady in the kingdom except for her. And so the prince marries Cinderella, and they lived happily ever after.

We are at the end of the 50s when The Sleeping Beauty comes out; needless to say, Aurora also sings with the birds. Indeed, the beautiful voice is one of three gifts with which the fairy godmothers present her for the baptism. First is beauty; then a beautiful voice for singing; and we are sure that, if it were not for the intervention Maleficent, the third gift would be the intelligence... but more likely the same foot size of Cinderella! (This is always helpful!)

The image of women represented by these three princesses is full of dreamy romanticism; it is not for nothing that they charm girls of yesterday and today, but it image is also passive towards its destiny. It is a woman who accepts the present condition without doing anything to change it; her main qualities are sweetness, singing, and especially condescension. It's always an external aid, independent from her, who brings a breakthrough to her present condition; and, of course, it is always the will of the prince to free her from a negative condition to give her the happy ending, which of course coincides with marriage.

But thirty years later, in 1989, Disney offered a new female figure: Ariel from "The Little Mermaid", followed by Belle of "Beauty and the Beast" in 1991, and by Jasmine of "Aladdin" in 1992. Times had completely changed: between Aurora and Ariel, there had been the 60s with its cultural revolution; the 70s with its great feminist movements; and the 80s with its exposition of the woman in the workplace. All of this should be reflected in the new princesses: the three of them are young women who rebel against what society imposed upon them, and want to be the protagonist of their own life. Belle, in particular, is an educated and courageous girl, who does not stop at the cliché but throws her heart beyond appearances. Above all: they do not sing with the birds! I have nothing against singing and humming – indeed I think it's a beautiful thing ... but why with birds?

By 1995 it’s time for Pocahontas and with her, woman is completely emancipated: the relationship between her and Smith is lived as equals, and for the first time in a Disney cartoon, a woman waives her coronation of love to a sense of responsibility to the society to which she belongs. I have to admit, she leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of those of us who grew up with the "happy ending". Moreover, after the carefree 80s, the next decade saw a return to social issues, and even animation films were affected by this change.


To our great pleasure, the finale of romance of in a white dress came back with Tiana ("The Princess and the Frog) and Rapunzel, in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Tiana in particular perfectly represents the complexity of the contemporary woman torn between love and her career. The happy ending sees her crown both her dreams of professional achievement and marriage. Indeed, one cannot be achieved without the other.

But if the princesses of yesterday accompanied the games and dreams of today’s women, maybe also influencing how they feel as brides, we cannot close this “study” without mentioning Barbie. The series of films starring the famous doll began in 2001 and, given the enormous success of the first film, twenty-one sequels were made in a decade. Barbie, even against the lurid pink and purple background of her made-up world, expresses the many facets of the female personality in the mix of determination and gentleness with which only the fairer sex can face life. And when in one of the episodes she repeats: "Always believe in your dreams, even when they tell you that they are unrealisable " a parallel is to Cinderella is born, and her assertation that "Dreams are desires". The only exception is that Barbie dreams of becoming a Musketeer (an exclusively male profession), and works hard to realise her dream and, of course, achieves it by saving King Louis from a conspiracy. And when the newly crowned King comes to her proposing a balloon ride to celebrate the coronation, we cannot help smiling at her answer: "We will have to postpone it to later", as she runs away on horseback to a new adventure as Musketeer. In short, it is almost as if Cinderella, after trying the shoes, had answered: "Yes, but I’m sorry; right now I have no time."

Dear princes of tomorrow, good luck: your white horse will be not enough anymore!




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Special thanks to all the photographers for giving a "forever" to my commitment:
Cristiano Ostinelli Photographer; Fotomartiz ; Ray Clever; Daniele Torella Photographer; Lucia Brusetti Photographer; Luca Rajna Progetti Fotografici; Pictures of wedding; Piero D’Orto

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