Cinderella , you’re as lovely as your name Cinderella, you’re a sunset in a frame Though you’re dressed in rags, you wear a queenly grace Anyone can see a throne would be your proper place.
Cinderella, if you give your heart a chance It will lead you to the kingdom of romance There you’ll see your dreams unfold Cinderella, Cinderella, in the sweetest story ever told.
This is the opening song from Walt Disney’s animated film Cinderella. It is sung by a traditional Disney chorus over the opening credits. It’s a subtle and lesser-known melody, yet still charming like Cinderella herself.
Many people often criticize Cinderella (and her earlier counterparts) for being a weak, passive character who allows others to control her own destiny. Personally, I feel those criticisms are unfair, as they seem to compare her to the modern-day heroines of today as if those models of independent womanhood are the only desirable standard.
Cinderella is one of the more subdued, modest, and humble Disney princesses. And it’s these qualities that makes me adore and look up to her. I find Cinderella’s positive traits—her kindness, gratitude, grace and optimism—to be timeless and a model for any young woman today.
Cinderella treats everyone around her with kindness. She selflessly serves others, making them feel good about themselves. Whether it’s her stepmother, stepsisters, the King, or even just the mice and chickens in the yard, she treats everyone–big or small–with respect. She even helps a lost, scared mouse get some new clothes, for heaven’s sake! It’s no wonder everyone she meets is captivated by her.
Cinderella’s life clearly hasn’t gone they way she would have liked: her mother died, followed by her father, and then she became a slave in her own home to her step-family. There seems to be no end to the unpleasantness.
But when she finally gets her wish to attend the ball and meet the prince, she is thankful even though her “dream come true” lasts just a few hours. Seconds after it ends, when Cinderella is left in muddy rags on the side of the road, she offers a simple, verbal thank you to her Fairy Godmother. She doesn’t pity herself, dwell on the past, or complain that it’s over, but rather she gratefully delights in the fact that it happened.
An attitude of gratitude is what makes Cinderella triumph. It’s why she can get up every day and take orders from her despicable stepmother and stepsisters. It’s why she’s not depressed and downtrodden. If more young ladies could find more reasons to express gratitude every day, then they would have a more cheerful, happy countenance and outlook on life like Cinderella.
The stately way in which Cinderella behaves in all situations foreshadows her becoming a princess and future queen. Despite being dressed in rags, I can still imagine a crown on her head as she walks around. (She even exhibits this grace as she’s walking up stairs carrying a tray on her head with two others in her hands.) She’s infused with regality and grace.
There are times where she’s being scolded and yelled at. Cinderella doesn’t lash out or react. She meekly takes it and moves on; she doesn’t waste energy with petty fights, but rather focuses her energy on better things. Some may criticize this saying that she’s not standing up for herself, but I believe that she is. She realizes that arguing with her stepmother and stepsisters is beneath her. There’s nothing to say; she’s above them and doesn’t give them the time of day. As the emperor from Mulan says, “No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.”
If you lost both your parents and became a slave in your home, would you be singing happy little songs? Maybe not. But not Cinderella. She’s happy and optimistic. From the opening song “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, we instantly see her positive attitude as she sings:
Have faith in your dreams and someday Your rainbow will come smiling thru No matter how your heart is grieving If you keep on believing the dream that you wish will come true
Things may not be perfect now. But things won’t always be that way. Cinderella knew that and had faith that things would improve. And they did. She continued working through adversity and never gave up. If she had been downtrodden, she may have missed the opportunity to attend the ball because she was too busy throwing a pity party in her bedroom.
I am far from being a Cinderella. I sometimes complain, am negative, and act bratty. Yet I still look up to Cinderella because I realize how much better of a person I could be if I were more like her. I would be happier, more grateful, have more friends, and be more successful in everything I do.
Cinderella is a fantastic role model for girls and young women. She may not be as independent as Mulan or as entrepreneurial as Tiana, but I believe that she still has some important traits that these modern princesses lack. If a lot more women (and men) acted like Cinderella, the world would be a better place.
Morgan is an Arizona native who's had a lifelong passion for animation. Her favorite animated films are Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, and The Iron Giant. She earned an MBA in Marketing from Arizona State University and now runs her own business where she coaches and trains entrepreneurs how to launch, grow & scale successful online businesses.