Monday, October 3, 2016

"Rejected Princesses" Book Coming October 25th

Well-behaved women seldom make history.  
Rejected Princesses celebrates those who did.  
Part art project, part standup routine, part book report, this site imagines what if we made animated musicals about the women of history and myth who refused to behave. Rejected Princesses is not for kids. Unless your kid is awesome.
Jason Porath, a one-time special effects animator for Dreamworks Animation, has been working on this unique project for quite some time now. He's been assembling a collection of stories for strong women of history who, although deserving of recognition, will never (likely) receive the title of "princess". He also created illustrations for each character are created in a style reminiscent of popular animation, just to underline the fact that these are alternate role models (of sorts) that won't ever have a family animated movie made about them.

Asked in an interview how Porath got the idea for the project, this was his answer:
The origin of this came from a lunchtime conversation at my old workplace. There was an article going around about how the Frozen princesses weren’t good role models, and I asked, “well, we can SURELY do worse than them — who is the least likely candidate for an animated princess you can think of?” I asked it on my Facebook shortly thereafter, and got around 150 replies from my friends. I hastily sketched a couple as jokes — Elizabeth Bathory, an early version of Lolita, and weirdly enough, Charybdis — but kept in my head that I wanted to do more full-fledged pieces when I got the time. 

In quick order, as suggestions flooded in, it grew from being a list of hysterically poor fits (like Lolita and Beloved) to being fascinating women from history and mythology. I am a huge lover of the obscure, rare, and weird – I’m also a feminist, so the two interests collide with this series. Lastly, I’m a total information junkie, one of those people who gets lost in Wikipedia very easily. This is a rabbit hole I’ve tumbled down and have yet to see the bottom.
And now his wonderful collection of passed-over women of history will be in a book. You may wonder where the word "rejected" came in, though. Who's rejecting these women?!

From Porath's website:
Did they actually get rejected? Did you pitch these ideas? 
Nope, but I think we can assume that nobody’s going to want to do kids’ movies about a lot of these people. They’re either way too awesome, way too awful, or way too weird. For a much longer explanation of why “Rejected,” here is a more in-depth explanation.
We recommend reading the more in-depth explanation, linked above. It explains the context, how these princesses are different and the very difficult circumstances that make creating more diverse "princess" movies a huge challenge. Importantly, it also explains how Porath is not against animation studios or playing a blame game. Instead, he's taken the opportunity in being his own boss to spend time producing something both important to him, as well as something that would have very little chance of seeing a box office, due to the aforementioned studio realities.

You will find uncompromising language and less then family-friendly situations discussed among these stories but don't let that deter you. Porath has good reason and has even set up and area on his website to encourage lesson plans for children that take what he is presenting and make it more G-rated for education.

This project is entirely about not bowdlerizing powerful and difficult stories. I absolutely refuse to tone these stories down, or to write in a voice that is not my own.
But I could 
use your work for teaching, if you just didn’t cuss. 
I understand that, but I strongly feel the original, base version of these entries should remain uncensored. That said, in the future I would like to make a version that is more all-ages friendly for just such a purpose – however, I’m not able to give it much attention at present. If you have such an inclination, however, feel free to clean up any of my work, send it to me, and I’ll post it online for all to use.
You may have realized at this point that fairy tales aren't going to be the priority here, but that doesn't mean that they, and myths, legends and wonder tales, aren't related. In fact, every image shown in this post shows a  woman connected to a folktale, fairy tale, myth or legend of some kind - and this isn't the whole collection of women that are (we didn't have room!).

Beyond that, historically based magic and wonder tales make good fodder for new fairy tales. It's something to think about - and be empowered by.

To finish up, here is just one of the complete stories for the "rejected princess" shown below, giving you a fair idea of how the stories are written and presented, not to mention how fascinating they are, as well as portals to a very different - and educational - rabbit hole.

We applaud Jason Porath for encouraging us to fall down it.

Iara - Brazil's Lady of the Lake

Maybe you’re familiar with mermaids as lovesick sea dwellers who just can’t get enough of hunky air-breathers. Maybe you have even read the unsanitized versions of said stories that, say, feature the besotted protagonist essentially stabbing herself repeatedly so the handsome prince will like her. (spoiler: does not work, do not emulate)
Well, the story of the Brazilian mermaid Iara is nothing like that.Iara was the pride of her Amazon-dwelling tribe. The daughter of the group’s spiritual leader, Iara grew to be the best warrior of them all — courageous, kind, strong, and (as I’m finding every single story ever written about women feels inclined to mention) beautiful. In short: she was hot shit, and everyone liked her.Everyone, that is, save her two brothers, whom she overshadowed by virtue of being far more awesome. Upset by this, they decided to solve their problem with mankind’s traditional go-to solution: murder. The only catch was, they knew they couldn’t take her, even two-on-one. So they waited until she was asleep, reasoning that two alert soldiers would be stronger than one unconscious one.They were incorrect. As soon as they got near her, she jolted awake and killed them both in self defense. Hell, she might have still been half-asleep.Afterwards, her father, unaware that his sons had tried to kill her first, and apparently deaf to her cries of “they started it,” led the rest of the tribe on a hunt for her. Although she eluded them for quite some time, eventually they caught up to her and tossed her into a nearby river, where she drowned. Bummer.But even underwater (and dead), she was still making friends! The fish there thought she was pretty cool, so they transformed her into a half-fish, half-human person — the first of an entire branch of river-dwelling mermaids called Iara. When men chanced upon Iara, usually in the afternoon, they would be so overcome by her beauty (or singing voice) that even if they somehow managed to escape, they would literally go insane. What happens if they didn’t escape changes from telling to telling. In some versions, the Iara would drown, and even eat them. In others, they would join her little aquatic harem, and she’d treat them pretty well! Life could suck more.The legends are unclear about what happens if a woman chances upon Iara. Presumably, a curt head nod.


  1. I first started my quest into fairy life when I wrote a poem called, "Fairy Time Ball," this turned into a short story, which has turned into a whimsical book for children. Which has started turning into a series of books. I would like to share a bit of the poem that started it all.

    “Fairies have come from butter ball trees,
    from mountains of ice-cream and snow.
    They’ve come from fields of straw-berry
    and from lands where stars always glow.

    The fairy folk frolic by firefly light.
    It’s Princess Shaylee’s birthday today.
    They will dance beneath the moon,
    and in the star light,
    until the night passes away.

    She’s turning nine on this happy day.
    Nine hundred, if you really must know.

    Her gown is thistledown silk,
    as soft as a butterfly’s wings.
    It’s covered in tiny pink diamonds
    and other sparkly bright things.

    you can find out more about me on face book and my blog. and you can find, "Fairy Time Ball," on Amazon, paperback and kindle

  2. @Osch Tish: I find the positive portrayal of violence odd. When media for boys idealises warfare and bloodshed everyone points their finger, but a girl warrior is a positive character?