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The Cinderella Syndrome — Are You Too Sweet?

I recently watched the film Cinderella with my nineteen year old niece. She was the perfect movie partner, as she’s just now developing her interest in boys, her unique voice, and her opinions in life.

We’ve all seen many variations of this classic story, whether in book, play or movie form. This time, there’s a bit of a twist, but the heart of the story remains:

“Have courage and be kind,” Cinderella tells us.

After all, her late mother gives her this advice as her parting words. Upon losing both parents, Cinderella is condemned to a life of servitude to her tortured, bitter stepmother and annoying stepsisters. They treat her terribly, making her scrub the floors and sleep in the cold attic. And yet, she sings her constant tune:

“Have courage and be kind.”

I couldn’t agree more. Every day I strive to have courage and to be kind – but there’s a distinction between my way, and the way of our darling Cinderella. When it comes to love, courage and kindness are a necessity. However, these traits are only appreciated when your definition is clear and your actions reflect your clarity.

Let me ask you:

  • What does courage mean to you? Does it mean to persevere and get through things no matter what?
  • How about kindness? Must you always take the high road?
  • Have you ever been told you’re “too sweet” or not sweet enough?

We can all agree that Cinderella is a beautiful and sweet girl. But, as we watch her tormented life and witness the swallowing of her pride (and her words,) we can’t help but want to jump out of our seats:

Come on, girl! Tell them where to go! Tell them to take that job and shove it!

And yet, the young (and super-gorgeous) Prince is captivated. When they first meet in the forest while the Prince is hunting, Cinderella makes a request for he and his men to not harm a particular animal. She doesn’t yell or demand. She asks. She reasons with him. She speaks into his listening with all the power of her feminine charm. In her own way, she has indeed spoken up about something that greatly mattered to her.

But, what happens to that voice when it comes to her own salvation and well being? After all, that damn attic was drafty!!

I wanted my impressionable niece to know there were contradictions in Cinderella’s behavior. No man worth his salt wants a woman who sacrifices herself in the name of “kindness.” He wants the woman who has the confidence to care for herself first and foremost. It’s with this confidence that she comes to the natural capacity to also care for others. People like and respect her, not because she demands it, but because she lives it.

Did the Story of Cinderella Teach us the Wrong Message?

So many women are under the false impression that to be kind means to be sweet. And usually, we associate sweet with quiet. A woman who aims to please, and is agreeable. But, I ask you, is your silence and agreeable personality the real you? And, if it’s not the real you, is that being very kind?

Think of sugar. It’s added to the food we eat and the drinks we consume to make us want more. It’s a way of covering up something that might otherwise taste a bit bland or even bitter (for me, it’s coffee. Do I really like it if I drown it in cream and sugar?).

If sweetness is something you’re doing to please people, what are you covering up or pushing down within yourself? What words are you not speaking? This way of being agreeable is enticing, and might even get you a date or two. It might even make a man fall in love with you for a temporary moment in time. However, it’s not sustainable long term. It’s a slippery slope and one that you can easily fall down.

Do You Have The Courage To Be Truly Kind?

Kindness is routed in the bravery required to speak your truth in a way that doesn’t hurt people. Kindness is your generosity of spirit, not your silencing of your thoughts and feelings. True kindness is the ability to be honest with the man you care about, even at the risk of losing him if he doesn’t like what he hears.

Forget about trying to be sweet and just be you. Real sweetness is more of a childlike quality. Sure, it’s magical and cute, but as a real woman, you want to grow into a more mature version. A man isn’t going to love you because you’re agreeable. He’s going to love you because of all the wonderful richness of your experience, and your ability to stand for what you know and believe. He’s counting on you to show him how to treat you.

And yes, it can be done like Cinderella as she was in the forest. With heart, femininity, intention and inspiration.

Wishing you your own brand of glass slippers,





P.S. Please share this with the women (and girls) you know. Would love to read your comments in the section below!

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