Now that Ladybird’s fairytales have undergone “sensitivity reader” scrutiny, timeless stories like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty will be reexamined after being deemed “outdated or damaging” due to their lack of “inclusivity” and “problematic themes.”
Once upon a time, the charming prince saved the lovely princess, and they went on to lead blissful lives.
But if he forgets to ask which pronouns she prefers before slaying the dragon in 2023, they won’t live happily ever after. He may then be an unremarkable bisexual commoner.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, Ladybird Publications used sensitivity readers to reevaluate several of its children’s fairytales to ensure their inclusivity. The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella stories in the Penguin-owned publisher’s catalogue have been deemed to have “outdated or hazardous” characters and themes. Industry insiders assert that problematic stereotypes include a dearth of diversity among protagonists with blue eyes and blonde hair.
Also, there are worries about ageism because villains are typically old and a lack of racial diversity among the main characters, in addition to class discrimination due to the social status of princes and princesses.
The protagonists in “love at first sight” romances could end up breaking up because they fall in love before they have ever spoken words.
These stereotypes raise concerns that they can teach kids that attractiveness alone makes someone deserving of love and attention. The assumption of gender pronouns by the characters has also been brought up as a criticism. For instance, gender-neutral language is supposedly favoured when a princess refers to a prince as a “man” upon first meeting him before getting to know him.
While not being engaged in the Ladybird evaluation, author and sensitivity specialist Virginia Mendez stated: “Normalizing various relationships in books doesn’t take away from the tale.” Merely allowing them to exist in that role as fictional characters. That follows a U-turn by Penguin when it hired sensitivity readers to alter sections of Roald Dahl’s books.
Words like “hag” and “fat” were deleted, and Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was referred to as “enormous.” Phrases like “you must be angry” were changed to “you must be out of your mind,” and other words like “you must be overweight” were also changed.