In Sleeping Beauty (or at least the Disney version), three fairies give gifts to the infant Aurora. Flora gives beauty, Fauna gives song, and Merryweather was going to give happiness, but ends up using her gift to weaken Malificent’s curse.
Beauty, song and happiness. It is my understanding that as a fairy godmother, they could give almost anything as a gift, and yet they chose beauty, song and happiness. Why?
Beauty and song. These are very Disney-princess-esque. Although I would like to be beautiful or be a great singer, I’ve found that I can actually manage just fine without those things.
What about happiness? At first glance, I think happiness does seem like a really good gift to give someone. After all, who wouldn’t want a child to grow up happy? But I think giving the gift of happiness is still not the best. There is value in sadness. Not the numb sadness that is part of my life with depression, not the kind of sadness that drags on and on and on, not the kind of sadness that leaves you unable to do anything. But a healthy, normal kind of sadness has value. It forces you to take a step back and reflect. It makes you stronger, better. It makes your life more 3 dimensional. And that’s not a bad thing at all.
So if I were a fairy godmother, I would not give someone the gift of beauty, or the gift of song, or the gift of happiness. Things like safety, intelligence, character, bravery…these are more useful gifts. But if I had to choose one gift to give to someone, I’d give them the gift of self confidence.
In Disney movies, many (most?) of the villains are vain. One Direction has a song that goes “you don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful”. Our culture very much pushes the idea that people, especially women, should not be confident, or that they’ll be more attractive if they aren’t confident. All of this despite numerous studies that actually show that confident individuals are generally found more attractive than individuals who lack confidence.
In a world where beauty, song and happiness are all considered more important than self confidence, we need to reevaluate what it is that really matters. Beauty and song are meaningless without self confidence, because no matter how beautiful you are, or how lovely your singing voice, if you don’t believe it, you can’t be happy about it. Self confidence isn’t something to fear, it’s not arrogance, it’s not thinking you’re the best that ever walked the planet in every single area. It is simply believing that you are enough. No more, no less. That you have strengths that make up for your weaknesses. That you are not undeserving of love, success, happiness and anything else that people strive for. And that, is worth so much more than society gives it credit for.