In my Developmental Psychology class, I have my students create children's literature that breaks gender stereotypes because children who are less sexist have better developmental outcomes and one way to help kids become less sexist is to expose them to media that portrays both sexes more diversely. The problem comes when you try to find media that doesn't reinforce gender stereotypes. Thus, my students and I have become part of the solution by creating children's literature that portrays both sexes in non-traditional ways. This post is my favorite story from this semester, so I'm rewarding my hard-working and creative students by making them astonishingly famous by publishing their retelling of Snow White on my wildly popular blog.
Tessa Rademacher, Issac Pohlman, Nikki Deel, and Ashley Thornton
Once upon a time, there was a valiant woman named Lilly White. While walking through the town, Lilly grabbed the daily newspaper and noticed something interesting. “The Prince is Missing!” the headline read. Lilly continued to read the article. Lilly discovered that the queen was holding a competition: Whoever found the Prince first would win a great reward.
Intrigued, Lilly decided to enter this competition. In preparation, she headed to the gym to lift. She sharpened her two trusty swords and prepared her noble steed. She grabbed her PowerBars® and whey protein shakes and ventured off into the night.
At dawn, Lilly found her stash of PowerBars® low and decided to find a place to rest. While wandering around for several minutes, she found a small, tidy cottage with a wonderful garden and elaborate landscaping. Curious, Lilly knocked on the door.
After knocking, a small voice greeted her, “Who’s there?”
“A local townsperson on a quest to save the Prince. I am in need of PowerBars® and more water for my protein shakes.”
The door slowly opened, revealing a small man wearing scrubs. “Oh, Dear! You look exhausted and parched. Come in. I need to check your blood pressure and get you rested up.”
Lilly contemplated and decided to accept the invitation.
Upon entering the cottage, Lilly was greeted by six other little people. The smallest one jumped up and yelled, “A guest! A guest! So exciting!”
The scrub-wearing little person led her into the living room to a hot tub. “Go ahead, Dearie. Go on in and I’ll go get my equipment. Gosh, those nails look awful!”
Lilly casually looked down at her nails, confused, then, at the rest of the little people. The smallest one, again, yelled, “It’s so exciting to have a guest here! My name is Peppy!”
Peppy began to point around the room. “And that’s Nurse who let you in. And that’s Sleazy, Ditzy, Sappy, Crampy, and Crabby! Would you like a back rub?”
Lilly, overwhelmed by the peppiness, considered the offer. “Uh…I do have an itch on my back. I just lifted yesterday and I’m so swole I literally can’t even reach it.”
“Of course!” Peppy began to scratch Lilly’s back.
Soon, Nurse returned with a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope. During her examination, Lilly felt cramps in her stomach. “That darn whey protein,” she thought to herself.
One of the little people interrupted her gassy thoughts. “So…like…what are you doing?” Ditzy asked, twirling his hair.
Lilly, enjoying her back scratch and hot tub time, proudly said, “I’m on a quest to find the missing prince.”
Sappy, a love-struck looking man, swooned, “Oh! True love’s quest!”
Sleazy, a midriff-showing, leather pants-wearing little person, seductively walked up to the hot tub, switching his hips side-to-side, and began to rub Lilly’s toned delts. “You don’t have to go so soon, ya know. You can stay here in my room,” he said with a slightly perverse wink directed toward Lilly.
Crampy, a rather whiny little person, kept repeating himself: “I have a migraine. Can we dim the lights? I’m starting to get my knee pains again too.”
Crabby, a little person with resting bitch face, rolled his eyes. “Why the heck would you care about true love with hair like that?” as he smacked his chewing gum.
“Now, now everyone,” Nurse began. “Look, she needs her clothes washed, a fresh meal prepared, and plenty of rest.”
“I feel a hot flash coming on,” Crampy complained.
“Oooo, I’ll make her a fresh meal,” Sleazy said in a sultry voice as he waltzed off into the kitchen.
“I’ll start the laundry! Nothing says true love like fresh laundry!” Sappy exclaimed.
While the little people took care of Lilly’s needs, she set out on an evening walk through the woods. The sun was beginning to set when she heard sobbing coming from behind a big oak tree. She drew her sword ready to battle and tiptoed toward the tree. She sprung around, taking the mysterious creature by surprise, only to find a full-grown man on the ground in the fetal position, rocking and sobbing. Lilly rolled her eyes and, with as much sincerity as she could muster, said, “Um…hi. Are you okay? You look a little…sad.”
The man looked up at her and replied, “NO! NO! I’m NOT okay! Is your mom the meanest person ever! The answer is NO because mine is! What am I going to do?”
Lilly let that rant sink in before replying, “Well, I’m sure it isn’t that bad. I think you should suck it up a little.”
“SUCK IT UP? You want me to just SUCK IT UP? You try having the Queen as your mom always on your back about your missing brother. It’s too much for one guy to handle. I just can’t even. Literally, I can’t even,” replied the man.
Putting two and two together, Lilly realized this sobbing, pathetic man was the brother to the missing prince. This was Prince Prissy. “Great,” she thought, another basket case for me to handle.
“Funny you should mention it,” Lilly said, “I’ve made it my own personal quest to find your missing brother. I love a good competition. I guess…if you have to…you can join me if you agree to a few conditions. One, don’t talk. Two, basically leave everything to me and just know if it comes down to it, I will leave you behind.”
Like a deer in headlights, Prince Prissy nodded his head, got up, and followed Lilly to the cottage. They gathered their things along with food prepared by the little people and set out at dawn in search of the prince.
Many days passed before Lilly and Prince Prissy came across a tall tower. Leaving Prince Prissy in a meadow to pick flowers, Lilly started to do a little reconnaissance. Only a few minutes into her recon mission, she heard Prince Prissy shriek. “Darn it,” she thought, “This is exactly why I didn’t need this clingy, basket case to be my problem. Reluctantly, she went to see what mess he had gotten himself into.
She found the prince standing with a woman, when they both turned to look at her. “My word” the lady exclaimed, “you can’t do anything for yourself can you?” the lady directed toward the prince. “You needed this brute to do what you couldn’t handle.”
“But Mah-um,” Prince Prissy exclaimed, “you don’t understand!”
All of a sudden, a faint voice from the top of the tower called down, “Hey! Hey! I’m up here! Mom’s gone mad! Get me down!”
The Queen, filled with rage, turned into a ferocious dragon.
“Oh, great,” Lilly said, knowing she was the only one brave enough to slay the dragon and save both princes.
Lilly drew both her swords, looked the Dragon Queen in the eye and said, “Say hello to my two mighty pythons!” flexing both of her biceps. Like a boss, Lilly took down the dragon with a single strike of her sword.
“You’re amazing!” the prince from the tower called, “I’m forever in your debt.”
“But, um, how do I get down from here?” The prince asked.
“Jump!” Lilly instructed, “I’ll catch you. Don’t you trust me? Don’t be so needy.”
“Funny you should mention it. Needy is actually my name. Prince Needy, that is,” the prince replied.
“For goodness sake, just jump.” Lilly demanded. Reluctantly, the prince followed her orders and jumped from the tower into Lilly’s strong arms.
“Is it just me, or is this love at first sight? Lilly, I’ve fallen for you. Like, literally,” the prince swooned.
“Yeah, about that. I’m sure you’re a nice fella. It’s not you. It’s me. I think I’ll be going now. Good luck without your Mom and Prince Prissy.”
Lilly gave a friendly wave and headed off seeking a new adventure.
And they all never lived together. Ever.