Take “Mirror Mirror,” where Snow White rescues her prince from an evil spell, or “Snow White and the Huntsman,” where she becomes the hunter who avenges her father, marries none of her suitors and confidently runs her kingdom alone.
Further upending the Cinderella syndrome at a theater near you is Pixar’s first female protagonist, the feisty Scottish Princess Merida of “Brave,” who demands to forge her own independent future. She’s also a far better shot than any of her would-be princes.
This new breed of big-screen princess not only reflects the independence — and athleticism — of young women today, but also Hollywood’s increasing willingness to tell their stories.
The success of “Bridesmaids,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Hunger Games” showed us that audiences respond to well-drawn heroes, regardless of their gender, thus setting the stage for the classic literary convention of the princess to get a modern makeover.
“It is time for a new paradigm,” said “Brave” producer Katherine Sarafian. “We’ve got an opportunity to make more characters that are relatable to modern girls” and audiences at large.
These empowered young princesses point to a gradual undoing of the so-called Cinderella syndrome or Cinderella complex, a theory developed in the early 1980s that says that, like Cinderella, many women seek something external — such as a rich and handsome prince — to change their lives and harbor a deep desire for dependence.
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