Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keeping Beauty, By Barbara Knight

Note: Barbara Knight should keep on writing! This is highly entertaining and provides some very smart commentary on beauty standards.

Once upon a time, King Handsome and Queen Charisma ruled in the lovely Land of Vanity. All those who lived in Vanity were pleasing to the eye. There was beauty everywhere. Rows of pastel colored houses were perfectly landscaped and immaculately maintained. Organic gardens grew only unblemished fruit and vegetables. Long necked swans graced the clear ponds as feathery finned angelfish swam below the surfaces. And melodic birds filled the flowering trees.

Each time there was a birth within the kingdom, the baby was presented to the King and Queen. If he or she was worthy, they would be allowed to stay. But if the child was not up to standards, he or she would be banished from the land forever, forced to live amongst the plain. This happened rarely, as beauty usually begets beauty

Within Vanity, there existed Four Fancy Fairies. Each had special magical powers. Their role was to gift each baby with something that would eventually help contribute to the whole of the community. In this way, health, harmony, and happiness were sure to reign in the land of the beautiful forever.

Fairy Physical was in charge of health and bodies. Fairy Fruitful determined talents and kept the community productive. The Friendship Fairy was responsible for all the love and happiness among the subjects. And most important, of course, was the Face Fairy, in charge of how beautiful one would become. The Fairies came to every birth celebration to bestow their gifts upon the newborns.

One day rejoicing hit a feverish pitch after the King and Queen announced they were expecting a child. Everyone prepared tirelessly for the joyful celebration following the birth. When the baby girl was christened Beauty, each of the fairies was summoned by the Queen to sanction her with their special fairy dust. One by one they arrived anxious to offer their very best. Each fairy was so intent upon making her gift the most outstanding, that the presentations took hours. By the time Face Fairy was to greet and gift the baby, Beauty had been crying for hours and the Queen was beside herself.

“I hope you will forgive me Face Fairy” Queen Charisma said, “but I shall have to put Baby Beauty to sleep now. You may return tomorrow to greet her and give her your gift.”

This did not sit well with the Face Fairy at all. She was extremely put off and grew quite angry. Upon entering the Fairy Garden, the sister fairies gathered around her and immediately wanted to know what had happened.

“Why are you so angry?” the Fairy Physical asked.

“How do you know I’m angry?” she challenged.

“Well, it’s fairly obvious … your face is purple!”

“Well, because the THREE of you took so long with your gifts, the baby was in ill spirits and had to be put to bed BEFORE I could see her!”

“You don’t mean it!” offered the Friendship Fairy! “Why that’s not very fair, is it?”

“No, it’s not! And I intend to do something about it too!” She said angrily.

“What do you intend to do?” asked the Fruitful Fairy.

“I’ll gift that child – I’ll gift her right here and now! I don’t have to SEE her to bestow my gift upon her – as a matter of fact I don’t WANT to see her. Nor will anyone else … with the face I’m about to give her! Ha Ha Ha!” And with that, she began chanting this spell, drew out her purple dust and cast it upon the air:

Baby Beauty in the land of Vain,

Will be the only one who’s plain

From head to toe, right through her core,

So banished she’ll be, forever more.

From that moment on and many years afterward, Beauty was confined to the palace. So afraid were the King and Queen that if anyone were to see the royal child, they would be forced to follow their own harsh rules and banish Baby Beauty from the Land of Vanity forever. So they kept their child locked away from the world.

And in her loneliness, Baby Beauty spent most of her time asleep. King Handsome and Queen Charisma grew sad in their despair for their only child. They knew in order to keep Beauty in Vanity, they would have to keep her in hiding for the rest of her life. Searching for a solution, they summoned the fairies and swore them to secrecy. But the fairies, being true to their kind, never breathed a word of their sister’s spell.

Desperate, the monarchs finally sought help outside the walls of vanity. They had heard of a Prince from another land, who brought beauty to plain women. He was called the Prince of plastic surgery. And he agreed to come have a look at the lonely young woman. Once in her chamber the Prince gazed upon sleeping Beauty and knew at once he had seen the loveliest young woman in any land near or far. He fell madly and passionately in love with her. When she awoke, never having seen a Prince before, she was also love-struck. For the first time in all her life the young woman was happy and felt beautiful.

Later that same day, the Prince eagerly asked the King for her hand in marriage. Both the King and the Queen, although sad to see their child leave their kingdom for good, were happy for Beauty. So off they rode on a large white horse … into the sunset where they both lived happily ever after.

Beauty, you see, wasn’t plain at all, not to the Prince, or anyone else who laid eyes upon her thereafter. Because when you’re in love, everything is beautiful.


  1. I loved this re-write. So true ... You go Barb

  2. This re-write truly was one of my absolute favorites! What initially piqued my interest were the beautifully written, but painfully true, references to the many societal/cultural standards placed on beauty and desirability. After reading the first two paragraphs with these descriptions, I immediately thought back to the essay "Snow White and Her Wicked Stepmother", written by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. One of the theories presented in this essay focused on the great toll these standards and expectations can potentially take on women in society. Just like this Beauty, many women are affected by standards like these. I really believe that this re-write effectively conveys the messages about societies role in determining the "ideal" type of beauty. Not only this ,though, but I also believe that this tale ended with a very charming reference on how (despite all of these overbearing standards) beauty can still be in the "eye of the beholder." -Hollace G.

  3. That was an awesome story!!! Very beautifully written and it was one of my favorite rewrites. You should be a proffesional author who writes long fairytale rewrite novels.