Unhappy Endings

As a feminist it doesn’t take much to get me to griping about fairy tales and how they perpetuate the idea that young women should all be waiting for some prince charming to save them. That’s one reason I find photographer Dina Goldstein’s project “Fallen Princesses” so compelling.

In the project Goldstein places fairy tale icons into real-world backgrounds creating shocking, thought-provoking images. I stumbled upon it this summer, but never got around to writing about it. Goldstein is now getting international attention for the project, which will be on exhibit next month in Vancouver. So I just had to tell you all about it.

Here are a few of the images I found most intriguing:

Goldstein has said this of her project:

The project was inspired by my observation of three-year-old girls, who were developing an interest in Disney’s Fairy tales. As a new mother I have been able to get a close up look at the phenomenon of young girls fascinated with Princesses and their desire to dress up like them. The Disney versions almost always have sad beginning, with an overbearing female villain, and the end is predictably a happy one. The Prince usually saves the day and makes the victimized young beauty into a Princess.

As a young girl, growing up abroad, I was not exposed to Fairy tales. These new discoveries lead to my fascination with the origins of Fairy tales. I explored the original brothers Grimm’s stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, many of which were changed by Disney. I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.

Click here to learn more about Fallen Princesses and to see more images.



  1. Makes me hope that someday when I get pregnant, we will have a boy. Being that I was a tomboy, I’m not sure I could deal with a girly, girly girl.

    Then, on the other hand, I think I oculd turn a girl into another tomboy as well.

  2. Honestly, I don’t get. I understand that we need to grow up with some sense of reality, but I don’t know if I want my future daughter, should I be blessed to have one, to have these images in her head. I’d prefer her to think life is great. I think the fairy tales evoke happier thoughts than these images, and as an adult, I wanted to turn away. It’s truth, and I know truth is not always pretty, but….I don’t see the connection between Little Red Riding Hood and struggling with obesity.

    I should have taken Art Appreciation at ASFA instead of Theater and Dance. 🙁

  3. Yeah, she doesn’t need to give fairy tales a bad rap. They don’t really teach and preserve unequal gender roles any more than video games teach and preserve violent behaviors. Do both have something to do with the negative constructs? Probably some. But with proper education and rearing the stories merely allow us to dream and imagine other places outside of reality in hopes os what can possibly be… not what is. If we are stuck with what is, then we truly are hopeless. I think that the real issues are that instead of reading these stories to our kids, as with video games, we just plop the kids down in front of the one-eyed babysitter and let them absorb these fabricated worlds without really explaining to them what they are actually seeing. I think that the artists’ ideas are extremely interesting, but still as abstract as the stories are. Instead of giving us hope, they just tell us of reality which doesn’t inspire us to do anything differently, but simply to either pity ourselves or pity those stuck in the roles.
    Also, on a lighter note, what about the prince Charmings? Why aren’t we represented in her work? Why are we always expected to slay beasts and pull off ridiculous stunts for women?

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