Thursday, November 27, 2014

Frau Holle Photography

I can't find much information on this set of pictures of models Katya Konstantinova and Inga Marie Ruxton by Tim Barber. The collection is titled "Frau Holle," which makes me wonder about the fairy tale inspirations for the other pictures and wish I could find someone talking about the inspiration for this shoot. More information on publication of the pictures can be found here, but enjoy some pretty pictures for your Thanksgiving weekend!

This castle looks a lot like the Neuschwanstein:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Red Riding Hood and Women's Safety on Running Trails

Since capes and cloaks aren't really in vogue these days, a current way to reference Little Red Riding Hood is to have her wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, such as in the pilot episode of Grimm:
Or maybe a red jacket as in Freeway:
Back when we were doing the You Know You're a Fairy Tale Blogger When... posts, I mentioned that I feel just a little bit paranoid when I go running in a red hoodie. That scene from Grimm probably didn't help, but outdoor running can be a legitimate concern for people.

Although the wolf has been interpreted for hundreds of years as referring to males who may be sexual predators, the fairy tale originated in societies where wild animals were a real danger, and belief in werewolves was prevalent. The wolf probably started out as literal.

Either way you look at it, it's hard for a 21st-century person living in the Chicago suburbs like myself to really wrap my head around the associations people used to have with wild animals. Around here, it seems like anywhere you go, there's civilization, cell phone towers, businesses and homes, and streetlights. The one place you can go to even get a small idea of what it might be like to live in a tiny town in the middle of a vast forest is a running trail or forest preserve.
Eugene Recuenco

And running trails, being secluded, are known for being potential places for attackers to hide. See this article for a map of reported attacks on runners in the D.C. area. There don't seem to be stats for  incidents of this nature (this article has some information about risks of rape and attack), but it's something you hear reports of all the time. A woman was attacked this summer on a section of the same trail I ran on, in the middle of the day.

This is one of those areas where it can be really frustrating to be a woman. Men can go running in the dark, alone, and be fairly confident that they will be safe. Women have a whole list of restrictions to abide by. We are seen as being weaker and therefore an easier target, as well as more likely to be sexually assaulted. Even if being attacked isn't likely, there's still the fact that, if an attack should happen, people could shake their heads and say, "well, she knew she was taking a risk, running alone like that." Even though the attacker is clearly the one at fault, there would still be some amount of blame attached to the woman who just wanted to get a workout.

I run with a rape whistle on my key ring, but to be honest, if someone were to attack me I'm not sure I'd have the presence of mind to pull it out of my pocket and blow on it. I go running in the daylight and usually when there are plenty of other people on the trails, but as the weather gets colder, trails are less populated. The other day I had a scare, running through a trail in a field, hearing a rustling in the stalks. My mind being filled with fairy tale imagery, my first thought was a wolf. It was probably only a rabbit or squirrel, but it could have been a coyote or something more sinister.

I still feel pretty confident when I run by myself. But in those rare times when I feel isolated and surrounded by the darker side of nature, I try to imagine what it would have been like to live long ago, when travelling anywhere outdoors was much more dangerous. The woods would have been filled with beastly predators, and even sexual assault would have been fairly easy in more secluded areas-risks we worry about today (rightly so) would have been an everyday issue for most fairy tale audiences.
From M. Night Shyamalan's The Village-the "monsters" wear red and are attracted to the color

And, kind of on the same topic, I found these fairy tale-inspired workout shirts on the etsy shop WorkItWear. I love the female-positive messages (such as, "I run like a girl-try to keep up"), and the idea that you can be the kind of girl who likes Princesses and fairy tales but also strong and athletic!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Artist Feature: Paul Woodroffe

Fairy tale illustrations can run the range from lush, intricately detailed paintings, to cutesy and almost cartoony. Paul Woodroffe (1875-1854) stands out in that his illustrations tend to have a slightly more mature feel to them. In his depiction of Little Red Riding Hood below, he took a character that is almost universally drawn as a very young child and made her a young woman. His characters, I think, tend to look more human and relatable, and it elevates the genre to something adults can appreciate as well as children.

Other illustrations of LRRH for comparison: young, almost infantile with chubby cheeks; the picture of innocence and naivety:
Gustav Dore
Ella Dolbear Lee
Margaret Evans Price
Jessie Wilcox Smith
John B. Gruelle

And Paul Woodroffe's LRRH:

His other fairy tale illustrations:
Beauty and the Beast
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Jack and the Beanstalk
Puss in Boots
Sleeping Beauty

While the fairy tale community may know him best for these pictures, he is primarily remembered for his work with stained glass.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Greedy Daughter

I'm not sure if this would be classified as a "Little Red Riding Hood" variant. It almost reads like a more modern subversion of the classic tale, but is an Italian Folktale included in the Tudor Publishing Company's 1930 Folk Tales of All Nations. The cast is pretty much the same, with a mother instead of a grandmother, but the role of each character is completely changed. Yet the message is still clearly didactic, and this story does not include a happy ending for the young girl.
Jennie Harbour

The Greedy Daughter

"There was a mother who had a daughter so greedy that she did not know what to do with her. Everything in the house she would eat up. When the poor mother came home from work there was nothing left.
G. P. Jacomb Hood

But the girl had a godfather-wolf. The wolf had a frying-pan, and the girl's mother was too poor to possess such an article; whenever she wanted to fry anything she sent her daughter to the wolf to borrow his frying-pan, and he always sent a nice omelette in it by way of not sending it empty. But the girl was so greedy and so selfish that she not only always ate the omelette on the way, but when she took the frying-pan back she filled it with all manner of nasty things.

At last the wolf got hurt at this way of going on, and he came to the house to inquire into the matter.
Jennie Harbour

Godfather-wolf met the mother on the step of the door, returning from work.

"How do you like my omelettes?" asked the wolf.
"I am sure they would be good if made by our godfather-wolf," replied the poor woman, "but I never had the honour of tasting them."

"Never tasted them! Why, how many times have you sent to borrow my frying-pan?"
"I am ashamed to say how many times; a great many, certainly."

"And every time I sent you an omelette in it."
"Never one reached me."

"Then that hussy of a girl must have eaten them by the way."
John Deffett Francis

The poor mother, anxious to screen her daughter, burst into all manner of excuses, but the wolf now saw how it all was. To make sure, however, he added: "The omelettes would have been better had the frying-pan not always been full of such nasty things. I did my best always to clean it, but it was not easy."

"Oh, godfather-wolf, you are joking! I always cleaned it, inside and out, as bright as silver, every time before I sent it back!"

The wolf now knew all, and he said no more to the mother; but the next day, when she was out, he came back.
Ethel Franklin Betts

When the girl saw him coming she was so frightened that she ran under the bed to hide herself. But to the wolf it was as easy to go under a bed as anywhere else; so under he went, and he dragged her out and devoured her. And that was the end of the Greedy Daughter."

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Aftermath of Frozen

It's been almost a year since Disney's "Frozen" release at the end of last November. Its popularity soared, and doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.

Elsa was a prominent choice for little girls' costumes this Halloween, and holiday commercials are using Frozen toys and products as a way to attract customers. With the unusual cold we've been having in the Midwest, someone on my Facebook feed joked about how maybe the fact that nearly every little girl wanted to dress up as Elsa had something to do with the unseasonal snow flurries.

Disney seems to be pushing the products so hard, both in the Parks and stores (the Christmas Parade is officially titled the "Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration") that its been getting some backlash from frustrated customers. People are not only tired of seeing the merchandise everywhere, but very upset that the classic Norway ride, Maelstrom, in Disney World's Epcot is being replaced with a Frozen-themed ride.

 Yet people are still going in hoards to buy the merchandise, so much so that Disney stores has a limit of 1 Anna or Elsa costume per customer at their stores. I heard that costumes were being sold on Ebay for hundreds of dollars around Halloween (my good friend Christy went as Elsa in a homemade costume). I thought the three hour line to meet the Princess sisters at Disney World was bad in the spring, but their initial appearance in Epcot led to lines as long as 7 HOURS. I cannot imagine standing in line for that long to meet actors in costume. Many people don't even get seven hours of sleep a night...
Yep, Frozen on Ice is already happening

The fairy tale blogging world has already discussed the film and why it's so immensely popular. The rest of this post isn't really new thoughts, just review as we look back over the year. I think it boils down to two main factors:

1. Our culture was very ready for a fairy tale retelling that doesn't focus on love at first sight. Children's enthusiasm can only go so far without parents willing to support the movie and characters as well, spending money on the products and even waiting in line with their kids for hours and hours. We've been complaining about the fairy tale/Disney Princess stereotypes for so long. Could this be the beginning of truly altering the fairy tale formula in our modern interpretations?
Edmund Dulac, Illustrations for Andersen's "Snow Queen"

Having two strong female protagonists was also a strong point for a more feminist culture, but it's ironic because Andersen's original "Snow Queen" is, arguably, much MORE feminist. It's essentially the story of a young girl who goes on an adventure to rescue her male friend, a complete inversion of the classic heroic-male-rescues-damsel-in-distress, and she meets many strong female characters along the way of all ages who help her in her quest.

2. Girls like superpowers too. I think this point shouldn't be underestimated when looking at the success of the movie. I know many young girls who love Frozen, and Elsa is ALWAYS their favorite (with maybe one exception being a girl whose name is Anna). Superheroes with special powers are marketed pretty exclusively to boys, but girls like to pretend to have special abilities just as much. I can think of multiple young girls I know who are half convinced that any time it snows it's because of their spirited renditions of Let It Go, and Heidi Anne Heiner of Surlalune says its the same with her niece as well.

I've been surprised when stores like Walmart and Target still prominently feature Frozen, it's like no other kids movies were made this year. But for me, it was a childhood obsession with Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" that led to my ultimate desire to research fairy tales. Who knows-maybe in 10-20 years we'll see an increase in young women who start to look up the history of Snow Queen, their own favorite Disney movie's inspiration, who will through the film discover for themselves the wonderful, enchanting world of fairy tales? Here's hoping-