JPG Magazine has published online the images for Dina Goldstein's Fallen Princesses project. The images are provocative, especially since Goldstein mostly uses Disney's versions of fairy tale princesses which are arguably the most glossy and pervasive versions of fairy tale characters in modern times. This photo essay enters into the common debate over the suitability of fairy tales for children, as well as women's issues and fairy tales, two of the top five most popular topics on SurLaLune's Discussion Boards. They are so popular that I've devoted pages to them with books and links for reference: Children and Fairy Tales and Women and Fairy Tales.
Goldstein explains in her introduction that "these works place Fairy Tale characters in modern day scenarios. In all of the images the Princess is placed in an environment that articulates her conflict. The '...happily ever after' is replaced with a realistic outcome and addresses current issues."
I squirm over the choice of "realistic outcome." So many detractors of fairy tales tend to argue along the lines that life is never happy, always miserable, especially if one chooses to marry or seek out long term relationships. Yes, I'm writing in broad generalities and I firmly believe that life is hard and painful, but I also think that the pain is tempered with joy and happiness that is only made greater thanks to the contrast of opposite experiences. Traditional fairy tales tend to promote just that message, not perfectly, but in a much more realistic way, encouraging endurance and perseverance. Here's a summation of one of my basic philosophies: Happily ever after does not mean "without ever a conflict or hardship" but is an optimistic view of overcoming those hardships when they arise in the future, often with the companionship needed to make it easier.
I'm not criticizing Goldstein's work, mind you. I enjoyed it and want to share it, thus this post.
Back to the project. Some images are more poignant or hard hitting for me than others, but I've decided to let them speak for themselves instead of commenting on them individually.