by Leighkaren Labay
HAHA MAG: I know as a child, I was affected by the Disney princess images, but since none of them resembled me, I really couldn’t relate. As an adult, having not been exposed to the Disney Cannon, what were your first thoughts on being exposed to them? Did you relate on any level with any of them?
Dina Goldstein: I actually watched every fairy tale with my 3-year-old daughter as she was immersed and enjoying the story; I took notes and made observations for the project. What I noticed immediately was the formulaic story that portrayed each princess as a beautiful ‘victim’, poorly dressed and controlled by an evil female figure. Later to be saved by a handsome male figure that would marry her and make her life perfect forever. All in a time where no one has to worry about the environment, making the mortgage, parking tickets or long lineups at the supermarket.
How is this relevant for women today? Well, it’s not. It’s 2010, and we find ourselves not only dealing with equal financial responsibilities but also taking care of the household. At work, we are competitive and since we are no longer fighting for our equality, we fight to be the best, period! We are so busy and time seems to pass so quickly. If we get a moment to read a book or go for a walk…that’s a treat. On weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s day, we may have ‘a fairy tale moment’, but that doesn’t last very long, and you know that normal life is just around the corner.
HM: Which princess do you feel most closely resembles you?
DG: Sometimes I relate with Snow White and Cinderella when I’m in my bathrobe cleaning the house and doing the laundry! Even real-life princesses living in modern times are nowhere like these characters. I can safely say that I don’t relate to any of these fairy tale characters.
I grew up at in a liberal society in a time where I did not have to worry about standing up for my rights as a female or having to depend on a man to save me. I had the luxury of concentrating on my career, one that was pioneered by women such as Margaret Bourke White, Dorthea Lang, Dianne Arbus. I made my own money and have supported myself from the age of 18. When I met my husband and we moved in together, we split everything 50/50. Now we have two kids and we are sharing equal responsibilities; we can do this because he is also a freelancer.
HM: As a child, similar to you, I had Grimm’s Fairytales and the works of Hans Christian Andersen to counter the Disney effect. I enjoyed them very much. Did you like them as a child? If so, why?
DG: I grew up in Israel and came to Canada at an early age. I spent my time trying to integrate into a completely different society and totally missed the fairy tale experience. As a child in Israel, I was told stories that were based on biblical themes with good life lessons. Disney was not around then, but certainly is now.
HM: Which photo is your favorite and why?
DG: Every one of them is special to me…but Rapunzel is my favorite. It’s the one that sparked the whole series. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I found myself depressed and questioning life. This was at exactly the time that my daughter was most into the princesses. The two events correlated, and the series was conceived. The image of Rapunzel is simple compared to the rest but resonates with me the most.
HM: What do you think of Princess Tiana, the newest member of the crew? Have you seen The Princess and the Frog? Was there a reason you chose not to include her in your photo essay? How would you portray her?
DG: I did take my daughter to the movie, and it was enjoyable but does not compare to others in my opinion. The music was really good, but I thought that the characters weren’t as strong. She is definitely a more modern female character dealing with more modern issues, and I liked that.
HM: The most poignant photo for me was Belle. It is especially significant in this age of Botox. Why did you choose to portray her like that? She kind of resembles Janice Dickinson. Was that intentional?
DG: I just had my 40th birthday, so aging has been on my mind quite a bit. Some of my friends have already done the Botox thing and are definitely fighting the natural aging processes. Belle was always the most beautiful girl in the village, and I began to wonder what would happen to her when her beauty began to fade. She would be in that castle with so much time and money on her hands…it’s natural that she would fight to stay young and beautiful. To me it seems to work for some, like Madonna, and not so much for others…like Janice Dickinson.
HM: What were your thoughts that went into picking each one’s future?
DG: I put a lot of thought into each of their destinies, considering real life issues that I observe around me. I know that some of them appear bleak, but that was not my intention.
I wanted each of their destinies to seem realistic and with a bit of a sense of humor. Life, after all, is not easy, but we are blessed to exist in this amazing world full of beauty and mystery.
To see the entire “Fallen Princesses” Series click here.
Photos courtesy of Dina Goldstein