Childhood Stories We Grew Up With That Perpetuate Stereotypes
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Childhood Stories We Grew Up With That Perpetuate Stereotypes

We can't live happily ever after in these conditions.

Childhood Stories We Grew Up With That Perpetuate Stereotypes

Once upon a time, I was a child -- naïve to the harsh realities of the world and unaware that the books I read were teaching and perpetuating stereotypes during these formative years of my life.

Looking back, I am not overcome with nostalgia but with disgust.

Everything in this room is edible. Even I am edible. But that would be called cannibalism. It is looked down upon in most societies.” But what should really be looked down upon in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the depiction of the white male explorer as a savior, in this case, Willy Wonka, taking people, Oompa Loompas, away from their native lands to work for him in a factory. This white savior complex extends beyond just this story and has been integrated into academia. Such internalization of the white savior perpetuates notions of white supremacy.

As Goldilocks finally found the porridge and bed that was just right for her, I found out just how wrong this story is for children and any audience. Unbeknownst to me, I was learning about white privilege, racism, and gentrification. Long story short- Goldilocks, a young white female, broke into the home of three brown bears, destroyed their property, received no repercussions for her actions, and was still frightened by them. Clearly, there are underlying themes of racism and privilege in this tale.

In the world of fairytales -- Ariel is more than the little mermaid, she is a little problematic because she suggests that women need to change themselves to appease males. Cinderella needed Prince Charming to take her from rags to riches. Snow White, the fairest in all the land, is apparently only capable of cooking and cleaning. Rapunzel, the damsel in distress, needed a prince to rescue her. Obviously, these stories have misogynistic implications and devalue women.

Contributing to the misogyny and underlying racism of childhood stories, throughout my childhood, classic superheroes were Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Thor, etc. So does being "super" mean being a white male? The lack of ethnic and female representation in these superhero stories takes a toll on children because they feel they can’t relate to these supposed role models and are left wondering if they are out of the norm.

Acknowledging that childhood stories which once brought us enjoyment have actually been perpetuating stereotypes all along is important to how we make and tell stories. Creating new stories that are more inclusive, diverse, and give children positive role models is the first step towards reaching happily ever after.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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