LONDON — Have our favorite fairytales grown too politically incorrect for this generation of children? A new study finds that a quarter of parents admit to changing parts of traditional classics when they tell them to their kids because they feel they’re inappropriate or simply too scary.
Researchers with musicMagpie, a company that helps people declutter by selling their unwanted electronics online, surveyed 2,000 parents in the United Kingdom on their thoughts about fairytales.
The survey showed that parents tend to update the details in Little Red Riding Hood the most, with The Three Little Pigs, The Gingerbread Man, Hansel and Gretel, and The Ugly Duckling rounding out the top five. In particular, a third of parents feel that the Gingerbread Man being eaten by a fox is just plain “cruel,” while 30 percent don’t like that Hansel and Gretel were abandoned in the forest. Another quarter believe The Ugly Duckling promotes body-shaming and discrimination.
Some folks stopped telling their children certain fairytales entirely, with 16 percent — about 1 in 6 — admitting they simply prefer to retire the legendary stories.
“Some of these stories have been around for generations – many would have been read to mums and dads when they were children,” says Liam Howley, marketing director at musicMagpie, in a release. “But times have changed and there are many elements to these classic tales which for some don’t really fit into society as they once did. Not only that, but when you think about the storylines, some can be considered very scary for little children.”
Our favorite princesses weren’t immune to the negative feelings either: nearly a quarter of parents think the story of Cinderella is wrong because she was forced to do all of the wicked stepmother’s chores; and similarly, one in four also think it’s wrong that Sleeping Beauty be on the receiving end of a non-consensual kiss.
Twenty-seven percent think Pinocchio could be a bad influence, encouraging kids to run away from home and lie to people.
Still, nearly all of the parents surveyed agree that reading to their children is important — yet only 78 percent read to them before bed. In another sign of the times, about one in 10 read from a tablet instead of a physical book.
And when you don’t have a book nor a tablet available, you can always turn to your imagination. Eighteen percent of parents say they just make up their own stories to tell.
The full top 20 fairytales that parents change for their kids:
Little Red Riding Hood
The Three Little Pigs
The Gingerbread Man
Hansel and Gretel
The Ugly Duckling
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Beauty and the Beast
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The Little Mermaid
The Pied Piper of Hamlin
The Frog Prince
The Princess and the Pea
The Emperor’s New Suit