This morning I participated in a photo-shoot, with me being the subject. I needed some professionally-looking photos taken for marketing related purposes.
After the photography session was over, the photographer and I sat together to select the winning images.
Being that typically I am the person behind the camera, it was quite a new experience for me; looking at my photos, analyzing and dissecting, trying to decide which ones will make the final cut.
I found myself becoming superbly aware of my appearance, wrinkles, the few extra pounds, signs of aging.
I trust that if it wasn’t me I was looking at, I would not have been so ill at ease; the photos looked great. But since these were my images I was scrutinizing, that was quite an experience. It was therefore quite a relief when the selection process was over and done with.
Later that day the evil queen from Snow White popped into my mind; that fairy-tale started taking a whole different meaning. The 1800’s Brothers Grimm fable, I realized, is more than a childish story intended on, among other things, scaring children into eating their broccoli (or else the wicked witch will come for you…) It is a tale about getting old, about acceptance (or lack of) of change, and about the fear of death. The story of Snow White, told from the queen’s perspective, is about the perception of youth as externalized beauty. The mere appearance of a younger, better-looking babe, naturally threatens the well-preserved yet aging queen. What else is the queen to do but assume the biblical role of the inferior snake and try to poison youth by means of a shiny red apple?
In all fairness, the evil queen should gain some of our sympathy; she may not be as evil after all. At least all she did was trying to put Snow White into a painless eternal sleep. It’s much better than what a vengeful queen would do these days (and I am not referring to posting embarrassing paparazzi photos of Snow White on Facebook.)
On a more positive note: the mirror may be telling the truth but luckily for us, at least these days there’s Photoshop…
I may be giving the ancient fable a bit too much meaning, but it seems to me that every element in it may have an additional layer. For example, the Seven Dwarfs may represent different qualities that accompany one’s journey through life: Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy (i.e. inactive, or Tamas in Sanskrit,) Bashful, Sneezy (i.e. hypochondriac or over-sensitivity,) Dopey and Doc (i.e. wisdom.) By the way, a piece of trivia: the dwarfs were first given individual names only about a century after the original story was published. It was in a Broadway play titled Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1912.) The 1937 Disney film gave the dwarfs different new names which is what most of us know them by today.
Today’s lesson: next time you look at the mirror, remember the dwarfs names and pick one for yourself for that day.
Learned from: a photography session and then silent whispers by Snow White’s not so evil queen.