The Princess Within


“It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure, for the linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” Revelation 19:8. Photo used with permission of Mikaela McCord.

Rachel McCord, Staff Writer

Cinderella. The very name elicits varying reactions among different people, and, while there are thousands of different interpretations, the general outline of each version is the same: The protagonist’s mother passes away, and Cinderella’s father is dead and/or absent while she is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. She is put down and lowered to the role of a servant in her household, yet she manages to escape to a ball where she meets a prince and feels like a princess for a night. However, she must run back home before midnight or else she will be caught by her stepmother and stepsisters. She loses her shoe (or some other accessory) in the process and is relentlessly pursued by her prince until he finds and marries her. And they live happily ever after.


I recently saw the newly released, blockbuster version of Cinderella in which the major themes were the same; however, before Ella’s (Cinderella’s name before she was cruelly nick-named by her stepsisters because she was constantly covered with cinder) mother dies makes Ella promise to remember two very important things: be kind and have courage. Ella promises to do this, so she goes through life thinking not of herself but of those less fortunate than her. She humbles herself before her stepmother and stepsisters, and, despite their abusive treatment toward her, she continues to turn the other cheek and show them nothing but love. In fact, she often feels sorry for them.


While Cinderella’s mistreatment has always been a major theme in any Cinderella story, in this particular version, it was definitely emphasized very well. Their brutal words cut like knives as I watched Ella transform from the apple of her father’s eye to “Cinderella,” the filthy servant girl who her stepmother and stepsisters were ashamed to be seen with, and who woke up covered in cinder and ashes each morning in her attempt to stay warm. Throughout the story, Ella continues to be kind and have courage; however, there is a point where she begins to believe that she is nothing more than what her stepmother and stepsisters have labeled her. She does not believe that she is worthy of the prince because she is nothing more than a “filthy servant girl.”


I could not help but notice how each of us are like Cinderella. Every single girl has encountered some sort of “stepmother” in their lives. Whether this is through a traumatic event, a circumstance, an eating disorder, a bully, or an actual stepmother, every girl has faced someone who has told them they are less than they truly are. They are dirty; they are a lower status; they are unpopular; they are fat; they are ugly. The list goes on. And for even a second, many of us believed this.


But then the story continues. Ella runs outside crying after her stepmother and stepsisters rip a beautiful dress of her mother’s that she had recently restored. She meets her fairy godmother and, suddenly, with a little bit of magic, she is wearing a beautiful ball gown, she has glass slippers on her feet, and she is ready to attend the ball in a magical pumpkin carriage.


This is the point in the story that everyone loves, but that many girls believe is only a fairy tale. I honestly did too, but my eyes were recently opened. As I saw Ella’s dress and demeanor transform, I thought, “This is how Christ sees me! I was wearing rags; I was a ‘filthy servant girl.”’ I saw what the world labeled me as and believed it was my identity. But then Christ comes in with His cross, and I find myself in His radiant robe of righteousness. I am beautiful and I am a princess.


The clock strikes midnight, and Cinderella must run back to reality, back to the real world where she is not a princess but a servant. The prince does not forget about her and simply search for another beautiful face, because he knows that she is irreplaceable. He pursues her and chases after her because he values her.


Whether we realize it or not, each one of us is just like Cinderella. We were created as free and beautiful spirits; there was a force that drove us down into believing a lie about ourselves, and yet, we are constantly pursued. One of the most beautiful things in life is discovering that it was not Cinderella’s eloquently done hair or her dress or even her famous glass slippers that made her beautiful. It was her courage and kindness; it was the person she was and the person she became through life’s trials. It is the same with each of us.  “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4