Textual content by Sadaf Shaikh
“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl fairer than all the dames in the land”. “Once upon a time, there was a princess whose hair shone like spun gold.” Virtually all of the fairy tales that have been fed to us like faith throughout our childhood started with superficial descriptives that decreased the ladies in them to merely being lovely. Romantic fantasies akin to Cinderella, Sleeping Magnificence, Snow White, The Little Mermaid and Magnificence and the Beast have been invented to be able to instil good values in youngsters however the morals for girls and boys have been very totally different. Boys have been portrayed as valiant charge-takers who got here in, slew the metaphorical beast and rode off into the sundown with the damsel. The feminine protagonists, then again, have been anticipated to be type, mild and docile all through the story apart from having the countenance of Aphrodite herself and waited patiently for the prince to return and rescue them. Belle might have tried to flip the stereotype in Magnificence and the Beast by studying in her spare time and falling in love with the character of Beast earlier than restoring him to the prince together with her love, nevertheless it stays to be seen how the story would have turned out if the roles had been reversed and a good-looking prince encountered a hideous monstress.
Briefly, Our favorite fairy tales are sexist. Prince Charming needed to marry Cinderella after one dance which clearly indicated that he was infatuated by her appears, Snow White needed to depend on real love’s kiss from a passing prince to return again to life, Sleeping Magnificence needed to wait a century for the prince to rescue her from the dragon, The Little Mermaid had to surrender her voice, her tail and her full kingdom to be with the person she beloved…. you get the drift. 17-year-old Ariana Gupta was enlightened to this at a really early stage in her life. Having liked fairy tales simply as a lot as some other woman when she was younger, she learn and reread the classics and their numerous renditions till she had an epiphany whereas perusing Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairy Tales. The primary line of Gill’s poem titled Query the Fairytale goes ‘What if Cinderella had an attitude problem and Snow White just liked the idea of strangers and poisons too much?’ It made Gupta realise that in putting the princesses on an unreachable pedestal throughout her childhood, she had relegated them to the pages of lore as an alternative of imbuing them with life. Thus was born New Age Fairy Tales, her try to rework seemingly good characters into robust position fashions for younger youngsters. Within the lately revealed guide that Gupta illustrated herself, every princess units out to fight a prevalent social concern confronted by women in a patriarchal Indian society.
We spoke to the precocious feminist about her new e-book and the thought behind it….
When did you first begin writing?
It was on the age of six. I don’t keep in mind what I wrote however my mom tells me that I used to learn fairy tales and make up my very own tales utilizing damaged English. Most of my early writing was for brief essays and tales I needed to submit as a part of faculty tasks. As a toddler, I all the time favored poetry greater than tales. Regardless of the type, writing was and nonetheless could be very private to me. I exploit phrases as an outlet for my feelings identical to my artwork. Considered one of my earliest recollections about writing was a poem I penned about saving tigers titled SOS – Save Our Stripes that I wrote once I was 10.
What was your favorite fairy story whereas rising up?
I assumed Cinderella was probably the most magical story of all of them and I knew the story phrase for phrase as a result of I had watched the Disney film so many occasions. It taught me that regardless of how bleak issues may look, there’s all the time hope and that good issues occur to good individuals. Cinderella impressed me to be hardworking and good. As a toddler, I used to be additionally fascinated by the flamboyant ball robe and the fairy godmother’s magic. I additionally stand responsible of dreaming of my Prince Charming earlier than I grew up and realised I had been conditioned to need a man to maintain me.
When was the primary time you realised you have been a feminist?
I wouldn’t slender it right down to only one incident however I feel the Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 had an enduring impression on me. I used to be solely 11 on the time and didn’t actually perceive a lot however I knew that a lady had been harm and it made me realise that ladies in our nation weren’t as protected as the lads. I keep in mind asking my mom, “Why don’t we ask boys to be more careful and respectful? Why are all the restrictions placed on the girls?”
There was one other incident with my bodily schooling instructor once I was in class. I take pleasure in soccer; I won’t be excellent at it however I nonetheless get a kick out of enjoying the game. I requested one among my PT academics if the women in my class might type a staff and she or he retorted with, “Oh, but football is for boys, why don’t you play something else?” That infuriated me. It was the primary time I encountered such a stereotype and it was much more disturbing as a result of the instructor in query was feminine. Again then, I blamed her for being biased however I quickly realised that it wasn’t totally her fault; she had been introduced up this manner. The truth is, we’re all conditioned to behave in a selected means within the face of sure conditions. In my case, the extra stereotypes I encountered, the extra my perception in feminism strengthened.
The place did the thought for New Age Fairy Tales stem from?
Again in 2015 — once I was within the ninth grade — I got here throughout a poem by Nikita Gill which revolved round how poisonous the age-old fairy tales have been. It acquired me considering and once I went again and checked out these fairy tales I had liked a lot as a child by means of a brand new lens, I realised how sexist and condescending they really have been. It moved me to such an extent that I felt the urge to take motion. Again then, I didn’t have the correct concept or the suitable outlet. In early 2018, as a part of my design portfolio for school purposes, I made a decision to do a photograph undertaking with basic fairy story characters who would propagate new messages. I created a collection of posters the place I acquired 4 of my pals, together with myself, to decorate up as conventional fairy story characters however utterly modified the morals of these tales. I made the little mermaid about physique shaming, Cinderella concerning the wage hole, Snow White about combatting colourism, Sleeping Magnificence about ladies saving themselves and Magnificence and the Beast about appreciating intelligence. As I sat in my room surrounded by the work I had created, I realised that the posters might be was illustrative tales for little youngsters. I’ve all the time believed that we should always catch them younger as a result of youngsters are extra receptive than adults and introducing them to feminism would work higher once they have been nonetheless impressionable. That’s how New Age Fairy Tales was born.
The preliminary teaser for the guide concerned a couple of of your folks posing because the princesses you’ve talked about in your e-book. The place did the thought for that come from?
I’ve all the time beloved portrait images and needed to do a artistic shoot for a really very long time. A number of my paintings revolves round ladies and I needed to dedicate my artwork to the ladies who encourage me. Fairy tales have been an enormous a part of my childhood and I made a decision to merge each ideas collectively. I dressed my buddies in sarees and created a set of 5 posters which then turned the inspiration for the guide. This labored out rather well as a result of on the day of the launch I requested them to cosplay because the princesses in order that the youngsters might meet them and get their autographs. It felt like our personal mini Disneyland the place the fictional characters got here to life and interacted with followers.
Have been there any preliminary hurdles that you simply needed to cross since this was your first guide?
To be trustworthy, it was a reasonably easy course of. I completed writing and illustrating the e-book inside a month and acquired a pattern printed to provide publishers a good concept of what the ultimate copy was going to seem like. I used to be actually busy with faculty work so my father took the duty of pursuing publishers into his personal palms. He carried out all of the features of an ideal agent and managed to get the Write Place on board. After that, we simply waited for the day of the launch to see how the guide would fare and the overall viewers reception.
Many individuals visualise feminists as abuse-hurling, bra-burning ladies and have a tendency to affiliate the phrase with ‘just a bunch of angry girls’. Did you get any of that?
Sure, I did. Individuals are nonetheless very afraid of the phrase as a result of they don’t perceive the which means. I used to be even suggested towards mentioning the phrase ‘feminism’ within the ebook as a result of it might have probably affected gross sales. Many individuals weren’t prepared to simply accept my model and accused me of destroying the timeless tales with my feminist concepts. That didn’t deter me. In reality, all of the adverse reactions made a robust case for the purpose I used to be making an attempt to show. If feminism is taught to youngsters on the proper age, they’ll develop as much as be accountable adults who respect one another and are proud to be referred to as feminists as a result of they realize it’s not a unclean phrase.
What have been a few of your favorite reactions to New Age Fairy Tales?
One of many mother and father I met was slightly sceptical about her daughter’s curiosity within the e-book since she had learn and beloved the previous fairy tales. She questioned if it meant that her daughter would flip right into a ‘feminazi’, because the web refers to radical feminists. When her daughter learn the guide, she accepted the brand new characters and loved the guide. Ultimately, her mom learn the e-book and realised the significance of the present-day princesses who didn’t want saving. She despatched me an e-mail telling me how resistance is definitely in our heads than in the actual world.
The second was when a mom advised me how her two-year-old daughter couldn’t learn the textual content in my e-book however she made up her personal tales by wanting on the illustrations and mentioned them together with her two-year-old cousin. It was rewarding to know that even these offshoots have been very feminist in nature. One other one was when a 9-year-old got here as much as me and stated that after studying the e-book, she felt motivated to pen down a narrative herself and even ended up writing her personal model.
What comes after New Age Fairy Tales?
I’ve been promoting my artworks which might be centred round ladies empowerment since April. You’ll find them at Crossword shops or on ariana.co.in. I take pleasure in writing poetry and would like to dabble in spoken phrase too. I’d work on one other guide that teaches youngsters about consent and sexuality and simply opening the dialogue for delicate subjects. For now, the board exams are my precedence.