This tale is too old for our time.
At its surface, Beauty and the Beast is a whimsical story about an enchanted mansion filled with adorable household items that dance and sing.
But with the real-life remake of the movie set to hit theaters in 2017, it would be irresponsible not to take a look at the problematic messages being conveyed throughout the story's plotline, particularly for the sake of the next generation of little girls who are going to be watching it all play out.
The story about a girl who falls for a guy who has issues that she believes she can fix is a tale as old as time, indeed. I'd venture a guess that a solid number of women have found themselves in a similar situation at some point in their dating history, sans the mansion and the magic fix.
Maybe it was the guy with the occasional angry streak; the one you thought might be able to keep it under better control if you could just manage to stop pissing him off. Or perhaps it was the guy who got dealt the bad hand in life, who kept blaming his past experiences on his present vices.
The one who guilt tripped you into believing that he couldn't help it. The one whose friends and family members begged you to stay with him because he's had it rough and they liked you so much. They thought you could be the one. In fact, maybe you could even change him for the better.
Sound familiar? It should, because the relationship between Belle and the Beast follows the trajectory of all those unhealthy behaviors. The Beast throws tantrums. He makes Belle cry. He tries to make up for it with gifts and grand romantic gestures.
The Beast has a group of charming friends who believe that Belle has the power to change him; to make him into a better, kinder person with some effort and a little bit of magic. Plus, in comparison to what seems to be Belle's only other option, Gaston, the Beast isn't so bad, right?
Sorry, but I'm calling bullsh*t.
People don't change other people, especially in the case of romantic relationships. When you're dating someone and they show you who they really are — whether it's by way of gaslighting or guilt-tripping — it's in your best interest to believe them.
Getting yourself into a relationship with this person isn't going to give you the power to change these things about him or her. If anything, dating this person is going to make them comfortable enough to exhibit these kinds of bad behaviors on the regular.
There's no magic rose that's going to turn a beast into a prince. So why are we still sending the message to young girls that it can be done? If a man was treating your daughter the way Beast treats Belle, would you tell her that if she just sticks it out long enough and happens to be "the one," he'll ditch his bad ways and turn into the man she deserves?
Disney, you have to do better.
Our young women need better narratives to learn from. Why do the fairy tales that don't serve women keep getting remade? The ones that have us needing to be rescued or stuck with a schmuck who we're charged with fixing.
Today, women are fortunate enough to have many different paths that can lead to happily ever after. But staying in a relationship that isn't serving you with the hope of being able to change your partner for the better is certainly not one of them.
This tale is too old for our time. Let's retire it.