The Shortest Fairy Tale

A friend recently forwarded me this:

The Shortest Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl, “Will you marry me?”
The girl said “no” and she lived happily ever after. And
went shopping, drank martinis with friends, always had a
clean house, never ever had to cook, had a closet full of
shoes and handbags, stayed skinny.

The End.

And I wonder: is this a fairy tale ending? I think it’s good for girls to be able to reject the idea that they need or want a man in their lives. But is this really a good alternative? What do you think a good fairy tale ending for our girls might look like?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I would wish for my daughters something more like this:

    Once upon a time there was a girl who lived fully, loved and was loved, overcame terrific obstacles against long odd and was much admired for her wit, kindness and generosity.

    The end.

  2. Okay, so maybe that one was a bit too rosy, but seriously, I think it’s a step up from the original post – especially as I read it:

    One upon time there was a girl who had spent her days buying things she did not need, eating food she did not enjoy, talking to friends she did not know, and dulling her mind with drugs until it all seemed like happiness.

  3. I laughed too, but then I wanted to cry, because upon reflection, Robert’s recap of the fairy tale is how I read it also. This is a culturally acceptable story that I find supports the culture rather than challenging it to move forward. Men can be more than deadweights, woman can be more than self-centered consumers. A healthy human future requires it.

  4. I like Robert’s fairy tale.

  5. Don’t get me started at the heterosexism, the fatphobia and the gender normativity of this little fairy tale.

    Let’s try this fairy tale again.

    “Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl, “Will you marry me?”
    The girl said “no” and she lived happily ever after. And
    went fishing and shopping, drank stout with friends, had too much fun to clean her house, dabbled around with the culinary arts (or ordered in, as she saw fit), had a closet full of shoes and boots and handbags and comfortable pants, and worried more about being healthy than being fat. She had wonderful relationships with men and women, loves and dalliances, long term romances and friendships, and fantastic one night stands. She had a great career and a fantastic support network. She traveled and painted and dreamed.”

    There. That’s better.

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