When Feminism Attacks: Must We Go After Cinderella’s Shoes?

There’s a new Cinderella movie coming out, and the trailer features a rather uncomfortable looking glass slipper, which sociology professor Lisa Wade has chosen to classify as a ‘stripper shoe.’  While I’m certainly not one to defend Disney or its princesses, I think this criticism is taking it a bit too far.  The issue is apparently that this particular shoe has a higher heel than the one in the original Disney film, but since when does a shoe having a high heel automatically equal ‘stripper?’  I’ll concur the shoe looks uncomfortable and borderline unwearable on a human foot, but I’m not sure we need to be linking it to the ‘pornification‘ of every day life, as Wade’s blog post does.

Yes, Cinderella should be free to wear ballet flats or sneakers or flip-flops if she so chooses.  But if she wants to wear sky-high stilettos, it doesn’t mean she’s supplementing her scullery maid income by taking a few shifts at her local gentleman’s club.  If people want to take issue with the Cinderella story be my guest—there are plenty of things that could be considered problematic from a feminist standpoint, like Cinderella needing a prince to save her, or the idea that women can be told apart simply by the daintiness of their feet.  To attack a shoe just for having a high heel seems to be reaching.

I think that over the top criticisms like these are why many young women want to shy away from the word ‘feminist.’  They think feminism means they can’t like princesses or wear high heels or makeup or shave their legs, but these superficial things aren’t what feminism should be about.  Yes, they’re trappings of an unrealistic standard of beauty in our culture, and that’s absolutely something that should be addressed, but there must be a way to do that without shaming other women.  And there are so many other women’s issues – equal pay, better maternity leave policies, and rape culture on college campuses, just to name a few – that are important to address and might not scare people away from the word “feminist.”

I can’t blame women for not wanting to associate themselves with a feminism that’s about tearing other women down or deciding what kind of shoes we can and can’t wear, but I don’t think that’s what feminism is.  It’s about making sure women have equal rights.  It’s about making sure women feel empowered to find their Prince (or Princess) Charming if and when and how they see fit, not because some dude’s throwing a ball and they need to escape a bad home situation.  Feminism should be about defending women’s right to make their own choices, not deciding what those choices are.

Image via here

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