Debunking the Tale of Cinderella’s Step-in Slippers
October 24, 2017
Have you ever wondered if Cinderella’s step-in slippers were actually made of glass? This classic fairy tale has been passed down from decades ago, and have had different versions of it from the places it’s been. Interestingly, Cinderella’s story has even acquired a century-old debate about whether her glass slippers were actually made of glass or fur. Today, some would even say that it isn’t fit for humans to wear, thus, it isn’t really wearable. So, what’s the truth?
In this article, we’ll debunk the tale of Cinderella’s step-in slippers according to its different versions: Perrault’s, Grimm’s, and Disney’s.
Charles Perrault: Cendrillon
In 1697, Charles Perrault has published his book Tales of Mother Goose (French: Histoires ou contes du temps passe). The book was a classic compilation of well-known fairy tales of including Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella (also The Little Glass Slipper), exactly around 300 years ago.
Moving forward, Perrault’s version of Cinderella was among the most similar to what we know of today. It contained the fairy godmother who helped Cinderella’s rag dress turn into a ball gown and the pumpkin into a coach, the Prince Charming, the clock striking at exactly 12 midnight, and the evil stepmother and stepsisters. Indeed, it was the same Cinderella story that depicted the reality of unjust oppression and the triumphant reward that a good heart can achieve despite the struggles.
Through time, Cendrillon also started the century-old debate on the material of Cinderella’s slippers. Many argued that it was a product of mistranslation, where “pantoufle de verre” was supposed to be “pantoufle de vair”, with vair meaning fur. However, as Snopes, a fact-checking website, explained, Perrault’s version of glass slippers should not be questioned for mistranslation. Mainly because, the word vair is a medieval word that is no longer being used during Perrault’s time. It sounded valid, right?
Brothers Grimm: Aschenputtel
If you are aware of the twisted stories of the classic fairy tales we know today, then you probably know Brothers Grimm. The Brothers Grimm is composed of Jacob and Wilhelm, two German academics, cultural researchers, philologists, lexicographers, and authors. They both published the folktales (which they collected and edited) that are best-known in the 19th century until today. Yes, it includes Cinderella. A twisted one, though.
Basically, they went on with the usual evil stepmother and stepsisters persona, and the famous glass slippers. However, the Grimm siblings do not seem to like the idea of fitting the evil stepsisters’ feet onto the shoe. This is why one of the sisters in their story trimmed her big toe and the other a portion of her heel. Yikes.
In the Brothers Grimm’s defense, the stories weren’t primarily intended for children. Hence, the presence of sexuality, violence, and gore acts which resulted in unfavored reviews from various readers. Though it wasn’t also long after that Wilhelm tried to edit out the scathing parts and increased the number of morals that the readers could learn from the stories.
Walt Disney: Cinderella
Moving on to the woman we know by the name of Cinderella, indeed, Walt Disney successfully instilled us an ideal image of Cinderella in 1950. The maiden of rag clothes, who has a beautiful heart, fought against the evil and had her story ended with a happily ever after. However, did you know that Disney’s classic Cinderella was inspired from Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon? Thus, the same glass slippers that Cinderella left in the Prince Charming’s palace.
Would you agree that the glass slipper is fit for humans, though?
In an interview with the live-action Cinderella costume designer, Sandy Powell, she said, “The shiny slipper is not made for any human foot to inhabit it.” Let’s get this straight though, the famous glass slipper from Perrault Cendrillon’s was glass. In this version of the film, they used Swarovski crystals to make the glass slipper come to life.
To support this statement, a group of Physics students at the University of Leicester in England published a study with the title “Cinderella’s Shattered Dreams.” The study basically tries to figure out how could the famous Cinderella run in glass heels as she runs away from the Prince’s palace despite the contradiction against the laws of matter and energy. Nonetheless, the study came up with the conclusion where Cinderella can only run away from the Prince if her glass shoe’s heel is only less than 1.15 cm tall. Which is notably smaller than that of stated in the fairy tale’s adaptations.
Wrapping it up, much can be said about the tale of Cinderella’s well-known and loved glass step-in slippers. Whether it is made of fur or glass, and if it can really fit a human foot, we can only say that a foot like Cinderella’s is capable of slipping into the said shoe. Otherwise, we might just end up like her sisters in the Brothers Grimm’s version of Cinderella. Not.