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Not so Fairy Tale, Fairy Tales

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WMU chapter.


Disney Gone Wrong?

We all know the wonderful tales of Disney that we begged our parents to let us watch a thousand times. Little girls discovered their role models and picked their favorite princess.

There’s Cinderella with her dresses and handsome prince, Snow White with her singing and dwarves, or Pocahontas and her courage. After watching a Disney movie any normal little girl or boy wanted an undying, beautiful love with a handsome prince or princess and a happy ending. No matter how unrealistic those messages seem now, Disney made an important impact on society.

Disney also gave us all unrealistic expectations with hair. Thanks, Ariel and Rapunzel.  

But where did these stories come from? The original stories actually come from a variety of places; like the Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson, old poems, and other sources. Here are a few of the original stories.


The story of Mulan that Disney shows originates from a poem called “Ballad of Mulan.” Mulan was a real person from China who lived in a place where practicing with weapons and knowing martial arts was extremely common. The real Mulan knew how to use a sword as opposed to Disney’s Mulan who shot arrows from horseback. At 18 she joined the army in her father’s place and fought for 12 years. Sadly, there was also no sassy little dragon named Mushu.


The Little Mermaid

Wanting Ariel’s hair is understandable, but wanting her actual life is not.

The original version of The Little Mermaid written by Hans Christian Anderson is dark and twisted and perhaps more realistic than the Disney version. In the Anderson version Ariel has five other sisters. Mermaids do not have immortal souls and turn into sea foam when dead.

The first day Ariel sees land she does save Prince Eric from drowning and he doesn’t know she was her savior. Ariel becomes obsessed with the Prince and goes to the sea witch because she wishes to be human. The sea witch gives her a potion which gives her legs but when she walks, it feels like she’s walking on knives. She tells Ariel she must make Prince Eric love her so she can have an immortal soul. If the Prince marries someone else, Ariel will turn into sea foam on the wedding day. Also, if Ariel takes the potion she can never be a mermaid again. Ariel agrees to everything and the sea witch cuts out her tongue in payment.

With her beauty and grace, Ariel acquires Prince Eric’s love, but he loves another girl more. The Prince and the other girl are married. On the wedding day, Ariel sees her sisters in the sea as they make a deal with the sea witch. They gave the sea witch their hair and in return, she gave them a knife. They tell Ariel that if she kills Prince Eric with the knife and his blood touches her feet, she can be a mermaid again and she won’t die. In the end, Ariel does not kill Prince Eric and she dies instead.

Cheerful, right?



The original version written by the Grimm Brothers isn’t drastically different from the Disney version. The main difference is Cinderella’s step-sisters cutting off parts of their feet so the glass slippers will fit. They are blinded for trying to trick the prince. Isn’t that romantic?


Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Disney didn’t stray too far from the Grimm Brother’s tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves either. The Queen is still insecure about her looks and asks the mirror “Who’s the fairest of them all?” The mirror says the Queen until Snow White grows up.

The Queen becomes enraged and instructs the huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart and tongue for her to devour. Yummy. Disney definitely left out that part. Also, a jostle of her carriage brought her back to life, not a true love’s kiss.   



Everyone fell in love with Disney’s version of Rapunzel. The Grimm Brother’s version is actually just as heart-warming.

The evil witch keeps Rapunzel in a tower and the Prince finds her and visits her a few times. The evil witch finds out and beats Rapunzel, chops off her hair, and kicks her out of the tower.

The Prince goes to the tower, thinking Rapunzel is there, and the evil witch ends up blinding him and throwing him out of the tower. He lives, and then wanders into the forest where Rapunzel finds him. Her tears heal his eyes and he can see again. They return to the kingdom and live happily ever after. Cue the “Aww”.  


Sleeping Beauty

In the original tale of Sleeping Beauty, she falls into a deep sleep due to a prick from a spindle because of a curse from a witch. However, she does not wake up from a true love’s kiss.

This is where it gets weird and you’ll feel as if your child hood has been violated. She is raped in her sleep and becomes pregnant. She gives birth to twins while still asleep. Sleeping Beauty eventually wakes up because one of her children mistakes the prick in her finger for food and sucks it out. Since the poison is gone, Sleeping Beauty wakes up. So much for a true love’s kiss.



According to these old Disney movies, true love is supposed to conquer all. But now we see the original tales hardly had a happy ending. 

Hannah is a Journalism and Creative Writing major at Western Michigan University. She has an enormous love for book/TV series like Game of Thrones, Teen Wolf, True Blood, Supernatural, Doctor Who, etc. She writes for two school newspapers, The Western Herald and The White Goat. She's very active, works out a lot, and is in the Theatre for Community Health at WMU. She plans to work for the entertainment industry as a journalist and live in L.A. hannah.r.ball@wmich.edu https://twitter.com/HannahRubyisms
Katie King is a senior at Western Michigan University majoring in journalism and minoring in anthropology and gender and women's studies. This will be her second year writing for HerCampus and before that she wrote for the Western Herald. She also wrote for L7 women's magazine in the summer of 2012. In her spare time Katie likes to hang out with friends, watch reruns of old shows and talk about why Chicago is better than Michigan. When she graduates she hopes to move to New York with her tabby cat, Ellie and write for a fashion magazine. However, she changes her mind quite often so who knows where she will end up!