Friday, March 9, 2012

Snow White In Armor

UPDATE 3/1-12:
FYFairyTales Tumblr host, Natasha, kindly wrote me a mail after this post went live and gave me permission to publish it here, so please find her mail below the original post and if you want to join in the discussion you can do that here in the comments on this blog, or on her Tumblr account HERE. :)

If you read my previous post on 500 Rediscovered Fairy Tales & a Hollywood Article: Hollywood Fairy Tale Feeding Frenzy and read the Hollywood article I was referencing you may have noticed that the writer had some issues with Snow White getting her bad on and suiting up in armor in Snow White and the Huntsman

He's not the first person I've heard object to the idea and I admit I have my reservations about it too. I didn't post on this as planned back in January but it's still a relevant topic and more people may start asking the question the closer the film gets to being released. My hesitation regarding the image is not because Snow White should remain pure and dainty (not at all!) but the idea that she can only save herself/be effective/make a difference by becoming as much of a man as she can. It's not as simple as girls shouldn't fight either, because some girls can and do, very well (take it from a girl who fences). I'm not jumping up and down just yet as I have to see how the movie plays out with respect to this but it's something I will be watching for with a critical eye.

One of the fairy tale image blogs I have in the sidebar (FYFairyTales), which normally has very little text, had a number of posts discussing the issue and made a lot of great points.
 After a couple of comments from the blogger focusing on the fact of Snow White wearing armor, the blogger responds to a reader question:
Anonymous asked:
Why do you have issues with giving Snow White armor?
There are several fairy tales where the heroines sort their problems by being resourceful and witty, on their own. There are others, like Snow White, that they rely on men to solve their predicaments. There is nothing wrong with either. They both resonate with children and adults for different reasons and both have their points.

I wouldn’t have a problem with Snow White fighting back her stepmother, at all. But when you put a character like that, that is traditionally helpless, in armor, you are saying that she has to resort to masculine features to solve her problems, like war and brute force. She either is helpless or she has to become masculine - there is no middle ground at all. And there should be.

I think it’s too much of a stretch for a character like Snow White. Once I took a psychology class where the instructor explained how Snow White was a story that showed metaphorically the maturing of a girl into womanhood. If you change that and put so many masculine features into such a feminine character, what are you telling young girls? That there is no place to be a woman and find your space in the world — in order to do that, you have to be more like a man.

Finally, I think the scriptwriters did that just because it supposedly “worked” in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and they’re aiming for the same audience, and also trying to reach Twilight fans at the same time. It seems to be laziness more than anything else. But it does bother me.

I’m willing to watch the film and see how that develops. Maybe I’m wrong and the plot will work out somehow. But every time I see Kristen Stewart in armor, it just gives me the shivers. 

This is just the beginning of a lot of interesting points about Snow White and about strong females in general. It seems as if the blogger had even more ideas on the topic so perhaps she will return to post on the subject as the movie gains momentum.

You can read the whole discussion HERE.

In case you haven't seen it, there is a new Japanese movie trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman which focuses on the action and conflict, with lots of dramatic images, fight scenes and driving music.
What do you think? Does it bother you as well?

ADDED 3/10/12
Extract from a mail sent to me and published here by kind permission of FYFairyTales Tumblr host Natasha (I've edited slightly for language & to keep the comments focused on the post content):
HI Gipsy!  
I am Natasha Madov, who runs the F*** Yeah Fairy Tales tumblr. 
Thanks for putting the discussion up in your blog. I haven't really followed up the discussion yet, although I wanted to reply to one reader's interesting points about gender crossing, because I wanted to wait and see more, maybe new trailers or photos, or maybe even wait for the film. I was also thinking about the whole thing, my own views on the question of gender, also, discussing this with some people whose opinions I value -- one of them mentioned that the problem might be less with the agression implied in the armor, but the fact that she hides her feminility inside it. It would be less about masculine/feminine, and more about showing or hiding who you are in order to do what you need to do. 
"Mirror Mirror" is about to premiere soon, so the discussion is bound to start again. It has been interesting to see the reactions and the answers around it, and how, even if it bothers you and me, it does ressonate with other people enough to defend it. I just hope the movie rises to the occasion of this whole discussion.
Feel free to post this in your blog, and please overlook any mistakes -- English is not my native language and I wrote this in a bit of a hurry.
All the best,


  1. We have to ask ourselves this: what is truly feminine? What is truly masculine? We see armour as perfectly acceptable on a man in a fight. Why can't we see the same on a woman? After all, why would you do battle in a dress? Aggressiveness is not entirely the domain of the male sex. Aggressiveness and the willingness to stand up for your own right to choose how you're going to live your own life should not ever be regarded as unfeminine. Following the call of your own heart, whether your male or female, is an obligation of all.

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  3. I do agree with Anon's comment and yet, for me, Snow White was empowered through her quiet, gentle treatment of others. The huntsman spared her as well as the wild animals because there was an innocence about SW born of her benevolent treatment of all she encountered. Her kind nature gained the allegiance of the dwarfs to the point they couldn't accept her death, nor the end of such goodness. As a child, I understood both SW and her stepmother were lovely to behold, but SW surpassed her SM because of her inner beauty. I'm not sure which direction this movie is taking Snow, but it's obviously a huge departure from the original story. I'm probably going to see it but mainly for the spectacular visuals I see in the trailer. I am not expecting to see my childhood idea of Snow White.

  4. I don't think femininity and masculinity are as fluid as society would like us to believe. Each respective side is tailored to how women and men function biologically and psychologically. Since women are the ones who give birth and raise the kids, there's no problem for femininity to be gentle and nurturing, even if said woman has no kids. Being feminine, however, does not mean you are weak. It is simply another sphere, and part of being feminine is using what you've got. All of our skills (tact, social graces, etc.) were made to compliment the guys, and theirs (muscle, combat, etc.) were made to compliment a bow and arrow. And when you put those two things together, you get one. good. army.

  5. @Anonymous I have no problem no problem with warrior women and definitely not with standing up for what you believe in, but I don't think fighting aggression is in the nature of every woman - or every man for that matter. (I must insert here that more women than not have a lot of aggression of other kinds.) The problem (for me) isn't the armor itself but what it represents. I learned first hand about the importance of padding and armor when I started fencing. Even with all precautions I was black and blue (I'm not kidding!) over most of my upper legs and torso until I learned how to stop getting hit. I can only imagine what the hits would do if I weren't suited up. Using blades meant to cleave and dismember, I'd definitely want all the protection I could get. I love the character of Buffy who has both a girly side and fights the "Big Bads" of the world but the reason this is OK is because at heart she is a warrior. The problem with putting Snow White in armor (for me) is that as per many variants of the tale, fighting this way isn't in her nature at all - in fact she's the antihesis to that. That's what makes her powerful in contrast to the Queen who is the exact opposite and will resort to any means of violence available to her. (Not that all fighting women are bad - not at all - it's just the example of opposites in this particular case.) The reason I'm reserving judgement on the actual film regarding this is that they may very well have written Snow White's character to be different and so the armor would then reflect her heart well.
    @Kim Kincaid That's how I saw her as I was growing up too. Where some people would find her passive, particularly as a child I saw a lot of strength and courage in taking on the wood, negotiating with the little men and making a new life. She was naive and hadn't yet realized how flattery and vanity could cloud her issues of judgement of situations and people. This Snow White, as you say, appears to be very very different from that and I kind of hope she is, though I don't think I could ever come around to putting a WWSWD (What Would Snow White Do?) badge on anything! :D
    @Lauren Agreed on being feminine does not equal weak! (reference Betty White's 1st "quote" here: and agreed overall re using ying and yang together makes the strongest force against any obstacle. :)
    The problem I have with armor is to do with the character of Snow White herself, not of putting princesses in armor in general. There are, without doubt, princesses that SHOULD wear armor, just like there are some men who should not. I'm curious to see how this movie's Snow White reasons that this is what she should do.