ByAaron Dicer (Your Movie Friend), writer at Creators.co

Silly me, I thought Cinderella was a love story.

I mean you can’t blame me right? The ballroom dancing, the goofy grins, the googly eyed stares, and all those flowing dresses with the shoulders poofed out so much it looks like all the women are wearing some sort of silken water wings. I mean it’s either a love story, or its the twisted tale of a girl who lives in the attic and goes so crazy talking to mice that she thinks she becomes a princess, when really shes just sashaying around with a dirty mop (by the way I’d totally pay top dollar to see that version on screen as directed by David Fincher. ) My point is, since Disney released the animated version of this centuries old tale 65 years ago, it has been the dual themes of love and justice that have risen to the top. This commoner, who despite the wickedness of those around her, finds her way to the heart of a Prince, who will then stop at nothing to hunt her down and finally bring her to the life we all know she deserves. But after seeing the live action re-telling, out this weekend, it was a surprisingly different theme that rose to the surface.

It’s not just a story about love, it seems to be a story about contentment.

Now don’t get me wrong, the love stuff, the justice stuff, it’s all there. Disney stayed doggedly faithful to the ins and outs of the story-line of the original, and as such you can’t miss the doe eyed romanticism inherent to it. But in this Cinderella, there’s something more. Something that hasn’t been quite as emphasized in the story before. This Cinderella is content. Completely. I mean, sure she mourns her losses, and sure she expresses her frustration at her circumstances, but in every case she reaches deep and finds the strength to keep dancing, to keep singing, and to keep serving. And she isn’t just putting on some happy face and ignoring the trial of her existence, she’s finding true joy even as she’s walking through the pain and persecution. Even at the climax of the film (spoiler alert, I mean, seriously, it’s Cinderella, but fine, spoiler alert) when the Prince is bringing the shoe that will prove she is the one he loves, the narrator takes the time to tell us that in Cinderella’s thoughts she’s simply content holding on to the memories of that dance, and that life’s going to be fine no matter what happens next.

And in this way “Cinderella” isn’t as much about “Happily Ever After” as it is about “Happily Even After”.

Even after her mother dies…

Even after her cruel Step Mother moves in…

Even after her father disappears…

Even after she is treated as a slave in her own home…

Cinderella finds the love, strength, peace, and joy; to smile, to dance, and to sing. Which of course stands in stark contrast to the desperation of the world around her, striving to have a “better” life, or more money, or a higher standing in society. This also ties neatly into the metaphor of the glass slipper, and our modern culture, with each of us grunting and groaning to put our feet to places we just don’t fit. So many times I find myself trying to fit someone else’s footwear when mine was made just perfectly for me. But not Cinderella, not in this movie. She finds contentment in her own footwear, no matter what it might look like.

And the truth is, like Ella, we all have our “even afters”.

Even after the a diagnosis we weren’t expecting…

Even after the foreclosure and the calls from bill collectors…

Even after the marriage falls apart when we worked so hard to save it…

Even after no one seems to understand and we start to feel alone…

No matter what it is in our own lives, finding the strength to pursue joy, even after the tragedies and pain of real life, may just be one of the most difficult, yet beautifully rewarding, gifts we’ve been given. Now, where to draw that strength from might be a conversation for a different time; for Cinderella it’s a loving mother and her instruction, for me it’s a loving Father who has given the same. Still, whatever the case, there is no denying that there is something wonderfully strong and attractive about the ability to persevere through the darkest of trials. So even though you may not have a wicked step-family looking to sabotage your happiness at every step of the way, I’m sure there is something in your life right now that you are struggling to see your way through. And we just want you to know (Cinderella and I) that we are rooting for you and praying that you find that strength to keep singing every step of the way. Because even if your Prince doesn’t come, your peace can.

…and may we all live “Happily Even After.”

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