Thursday, April 28, 2016

That Snow White She Did Right in Her Life

Rackham's Snowdrop
Arthur Rackham

"That Snow White she did right in her life, had seven men to do the chores, 'cause that's not what a lady's for"

My ears perked up when I heard these lyrics on the radio, in Daya's single "Sit Still, Look Pretty." In fact, this song is kind of a good example of the post-feminist culture we were discussing in my last post. The song itself is Daya refusing to fit into the female stereotypes of sitting still, looking pretty, and just waiting for a man to come make her life worth something. In this interview, she says,
Q: Is "Sit Still, Look Pretty" based on any sort of personal experience of being told to do just that: Sit still and look pretty?
A: Definitely. It's also just from growing up with gender stereotypes and thinking, you know, you're not supposed to play sports, and you're supposed to dress up and wear makeup all the time. It's not as bad as it has been in the past -- and I think that's great -- but those stereotypes are definitely still there. It's important to be aware of that.
*Does anyone else find it ironic that she's doing in this photo exactly what she claims she won't?
Honestly, a part of me heard the song and thought, "this message is so overplayed." I'm kind of surprised about her statement about girls being told not to play sports. All the popular girls in my school played sports, and I felt embarrassed to be so unathletic. But of course, we should never assume that our experience is the only reality, and just because we haven't suffered a certain way doesn't mean that other people don't. I'm glad she acknowledges that things have gotten better, but are still far from perfect.

Anyway, back to the fairy tale lyrics: I'm not sure where she got the idea that Snow White had the dwarfs do the chores for her, because that's the opposite of what happens in the fairy tale, where they agree to let her live with them, if she'll do the housework (maybe it's in one of the big Snow White films that came out a few years ago that I still haven't seen?). I tried to find an interview where she talks about that specific part of the song but haven't yet.
Trina Schart Hyman

But, I think there is something significant about the use of fairy tales in this song. In songs like this, it's typical to hear fairy tales blamed for our ideas that women should just sit still, look pretty, and wait for a man; or for the idea that romance will be perfect (see Natalia Kills' "Wonderland"). I think this might be one of the few times in pop music that fairy tales are used as an example of overcoming sexism (however incorrectly) (and there's still the issue of calling housework itself a bad thing that modern women are "too good" to do, and now relegating it to men). But, progress? Maybe those feminist versions of fairy tales are finally starting to actually alter the way the public sees fairy tales?


  1. Awesome post! I wish I had seen this before I wrote my own post on this song -- you worded things WAY more eloquently than I did. Personally, I'm not a fan of that section of the lyrics, for all of those reasons that you said. Factual inaccuracies bug me (I'm an editor) and I don't think cleaning is what any human is for. (If you're interested, you can check my post out here: )

    Rock on, and thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks! And thanks for the link to your own post, I think it's still a great discussion of the issues with this song!