I have always loved fairy tales. I liked them was because those were where I found stories about girls. Superheroes were all boys and not trying to appeal to me. Cartoons had SO many animal dudes, but girl adventures were in fairy tales.
In the ’90s, it wasn’t too hard to find second wave feminism touting the independence of women in fairy tales. Now there are many feminist fairy tales out there. Dealing with Dragons‘ Cimorene made me the feminist I am today. But most of those are still straight, white, cis, and able-bodied.
In 2017 we’re riding the fourth wave of feminism in all its commercialized glory. It’s about time to highlight some third wave-influenced intersectional fairy tales now that the third wave feminists are all grown-up. Unfortunately, we’re still looking at a fairly white list of authors.
I’ve picked stories that stick pretty close to the story points and imagery we expect from a fairy tale because I wanted to see our idea of the story change rather than make changes to the story. This means I’ve left out princess stories like Princess, Princess Ever After and Princeless, despite their POC, body positive, and LGBT-friendly rep.
Intersectional Fairy Tale Retellings
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
A well-discussed series briefly summarized as science fiction fairy tales. While there has been some criticism of the representation, the first and fourth books place POC girls as the main protagonists, notably Snow White as a black girl.
The Once Upon A World Collection: Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White by Chloe Perkins, illustrated by Sandra Equihua, Archana Sreenivasan, and Misa Saburi respectively.
Picture book retellings of classic fairy tales paired with illustrations showing characters and cultures from outside Western Europe. Perkins has paired with illustrators from the culture being depicted, though the text itself has no markers of cultural change from the originals. Also, OF COURSE the pumpkin in Cinderella makes so much sense if you set it in Mexico!
The Fairy Tale Hairdresser by Abie Longstaff
“Kittie Lacy was the best hairdresser in all the land.” Kittie is an smart business woman and damn good at her job, which includes helping out her friends when they get caught up in some familiar fairy tale trouble. Her hair dressing skills and supplies save the day. Each story ends in a hetero-wedding, but we also get to see interracial couples, including Beauty, the dark-skinned princess. Note: skip the Aladdin book.
Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
Ash by Malinda Lo
LGBT Cinderella retelling where Cinderella falls in love with the Huntress.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
A subversive retelling of Snow White with LGBT representation and a humanizing look at the stepmother as the sympathetic heroine of her own story.
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
Retelling of the Charles Perrault fairy tale Toads and Diamonds set in pre-colonial India. One sister has diamonds fall from her mouth when she speaks; the other, toads.
What are some intersectional fairy tale retellings you’ve read? Especially ones with heroines who are fat, disabled, or trans? Or all of the above. Maybe you could write us that story?