Everyone knows the story of Snow White: a young princess is forced to flee from a wicked, vain queen and finds herself in the company of a group of tiny dwarf miners, until her prince comes along and saves her from her poison-apple-induced sleep. For years, children worldwide have watched the iconic Disney film and seen its characters plastered on every type of merchandise imaginable. And the message this burned into the memory of little girls everywhere is clear: true love conquers all.
But take note, girls: Snow White has had a total media makeover— the sheepish, innocent girl of fairytale lore has been transformed into a fierce, lethal warrior princess, now more princely than girly, and is fully equipped to save not only herself, but her entire kingdom. As the star of two major feature films, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, as well as ABC’s highly popular, hour-long drama Once Upon a Time, she is not likely to be doing the dishes with her woodland friends or making seven tiny beds each morning. Instead, she is now determined to win back her kingdom from the evil queen who banished her, raising the stakes from simply living out her life in the eternal bliss of true love to directly challenging the queen for supremacy. Snow White, with her new, almost blind determination toward her goal, is not just more aggressive in this incarnation; she’s practically oozing testosterone. The new Snow White— in pants, no less! — represents a shrinking gender divide, enforcing the idea that a woman can only become truly successful by losing her feminine traits.
Snow White’s transformation from an inactive princess to a fearsome warrior is a product of our society and what movie executives know will sell. Ultimately, this new manifestation of a nostalgic character may serve to “empower” modern women by changing Snow White into a self-sufficient fighter, but it also disparages them by turning the heroine essentially into the male archetypal champion, the new and improved fairytale maintains the same clichéd message of the original story about true love.