Now Ladybug fairy tales are getting the ‘sensitivity reader’ treatment: classics like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty need to be reexamined after being labeled ‘outdated or harmful’ for lacking ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘problematic tropes’
Once upon a time… the handsome prince saved the beautiful princess and they lived happily ever after.
But in 2023, he could be your average bisexual citizen – and they certainly won’t live happily ever after if he forgets to ask what pronouns she prefers before slaying the dragon.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, Ladybird Books has used sensitivity readers to re-examine some of its children’s fairy tales to check their inclusiveness.
The Penguin publisher’s catalog includes classic stories such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but the characters and plots have been identified as “obsolete or harmful.”
Industry insiders argue that problematic tropes are a lack of diversity among blonde-haired, blue-eyed protagonists.
Evil?: The publisher’s classic stories are labeled as harmful
There are also fears of class discrimination due to the social rank of princes and princesses, age discrimination since villains are usually old, and a lack of racial diversity among the main characters.
Love at first sight romances can also be erased by the protagonists falling for each other before they have spoken.
It is feared that these tropes may suggest to children that only good looks make one worthy of attention and romance.
The characters’ suspicion of gender pronouns at first glance has also been raised as an issue.
For example, when a princess uses the term “man” when she sees a prince for the first time before they got to know each other, gender-neutral language would be preferred.
Author and sensitivity expert Virginia Mendez, who is not involved in the Ladybird review, said, “Normalizing other relationships in books doesn’t detract from the story.
“(Just) allowing them to exist in that capacity as characters of the books.”
It comes after Penguin was forced to make a U-turn after hiring sensitive readers to rewrite parts of Roald Dahl’s books.
Edits include removing words like “witch” and “fat” – with Augustus Gloop, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, instead described as “huge” – as well as changing phrases like “you must be crazy” to “you must be crazy’.