Penélope Cruz isn’t the type of woman who grew up dreaming of glass slippers and princesses. And now, as the mother of two children, she’s particularly wary of narratives where “the men get to decide everything.” So, when she reads her kids fairytales, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, it would be fair to say that she takes some… liberties with the plot.
Talking to Porter Magazine about the #MeToo movement, and the different expectations we place on men and women, Penelope Cruz revealed that she changes the endings of classic fairytales, such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, when she reads them to her son and daughter.
“Fairytales matter so much because these are the first stories that you hear from the mouths of your parents,” Cruz explained. “So, when I read fairytales to my kids at night, I’m always changing the endings – always, always, always, always. Fucking Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and all of this – there’s a lot of machismo in those stories.” If – like me – you’re not bilingual, machismo basically means what you think it does: a sense of being strong, “manly”, self-reliant. Cruz is worried about what these messages might convey to her children about the way they should behave when they grow up and go out into the world. “That can have an effect on the way that kids see the world,” she reasoned. “If you’re not careful, they start thinking: ‘Oh, so the men get to decide everything’.”
In Cruz’s fairytales, the heroines are more than comfortable turning down marriage proposals and the promise of castles and crowns. Instead, they want careers, they want lives of their own, they want to be able to say no
In Cruz’s fairytales, the heroines are more than comfortable turning down marriage proposals and the promise of castles and crowns. Instead, they want careers, they want lives of their own, they want to be able to say no. “In my version of Cinderella,” Cruz explains, “When the prince says, ‘Do you wanna marry?’ she says, ‘No, thanks, ’cos I don’t want to be a princess. I want to be an astronaut, or a chef’.”
Cruz has spent her career playing complicated, three-dimensional, interesting women. She has played an artist involved in a volatile polyamorous relationship, a quick-witted prostitute, a survivor of domestic abuse, a pregnant woman who is HIV positive. These aren’t watered down, palatable women – these are women who have to fight for what they want, who have to make their own way through a world that is stacked against them. So, really, it’s not a surprise that these are the sorts of women she wants her children to see represented in fairytales. After all, who needs to wear glass slippers when you can put on an astronaut suit, instead?