Snow White-ology

For my next exhibit, I’m planning to put a gay/glam spin on the fairy tale classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” My version, “Lily White and the Seven Divas,” will use symbols and imagery from the original story (along with some new additions) to tell the tale of a young, androgynous boy coming into his own -- by way of a colorfully inhabited enchanted forest of course!

In my previous post, “Wardrobe Malfunction,” I posted some pics of my first attempt to find suitable costuming to help me transform into an appropriately glamorous heroine. Fortunately, with the help of my fashion consultant, Maria, we’ve made some progress since then.

There’s much more to come, but I love the red corset (left), and I think the simple yellow shorts would be great with some tights and platform boots. Now, before you start filling out a submission form for “What Not to Wear” on my behalf, I guess I should probably explain my goal here -- I’m going for a combination of classic maiden (hence the laced-up corset) and Ziggy Stardust (hence everything else) for the Lily White character. Once I piece together the costume fully (which will also involve a wacky headpiece and some kind of white, sheer top), I’ll stage a photo shoot with some of my most adventurous friends to get the reference photos together.

My plan (at this point) is to do a series of elaborate, narrative paintings exploring my version of the story. I’m also contemplating a possible sculptural component as well (a life-size, glass-coffined self-portrait). Of course this is all VERY preliminary, but I’m going to use my blog to document the process (and progress) of this crazy endeavor.

I’ve been reading various interpretations of the Snow White story and commentary about its symbolism in preparation. Since I’m interested in using it as a metaphor for self-exploration, I’ve been particularly interested in some of the essays analyzing it in that context.

In “Analysis of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” by Stephen Flynn, the author uses the other characters in the story to symbolize various stages in Snow White’s own development.

“Uniformity starts to emerge when we read how the queen died at the birth of her child and after her death her husband, '..the king took another wife'(Grimm 1984:188). This is the only mention of Snow Whites' father. He is an indolent father because he utterly fails to protect his child from the murderous hands of his new wife. This indolent father figure is also shared with ‘Cinderella’ and perhaps ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ who does not seem to have a father at all. Common to all these tales is the fact that the negative aspect of the masculine (indolent father) cannot be integrated and this can result in a denial of the masculine...

The 'absent one' in a persons life or the one least mentioned usually has an enormous contribution to make. Our heroine starts out with an almost non-existent father figure or 'Animus’ and at this stage the mother is dead. This state of the psyche is tragic. It lacks a caring mother image and a father who cannot stand up for her and ‘doing nothing’ is the most expressive form of violence because the very act of non-doing prevents its own cure. He doesn’t offer any suggestions, guidance or even attempt to control the raging forces within her personified by the wicked step-mother. He does nothing against the raging opposite. The counter balance to the weak Animus is an inflated negative feminine 'shadow' which ... is totally unconscious....and... seems to possess a peculiar wisdom of its own...'(Jung1981:233f) in the form of the step mother. The whole story seems to be about Snow White eventually finding her prince, the tenth male figure, before she is able to face and tame the rage within.”

In “The Symbolism of Snow White” by JM Kellam, a similar theme is suggested:

“Girardot parallels the story of Snow White to a symbolic story of a girl's maturation. He sees importance not only in the blood-red color as symbolizing menstruation, but also in the red, white, and black trio. These colors appear together in societies during the situation of initiation (Girardot 283). By initiation, Girardot is describing the changing of man or beginning of a new man (Girardot 285). The three colors of the trio represent the three parts of the life cycle. The black is representative of death or the end of life, white is purification, and red is rebirth when life is started anew (Girardot). A theme seen in the story, as represented by the color trio, as well as the blood-red, is transformation. The story can be seen as a symbolic story of a child maturing into adulthood.”

Later in the article, she offers some interesting interpretation of the classic, sleeping princess scenario:

"...what may seem like a period of deathlike passivity at the end of childhood is nothing but a time of quiet growth and preparation, from which the person will awake mature, ready for sexual union" (Bettelheim 232). Maria Tatar points out how the glass coffin puts Snow White's beauty on display. The marriage of the prince and Snow White is Snow White's final step into adulthood. "She is a whole person now, complete in her sexuality, womanhood, and socialization."

Artist inspiration: Eugenio Recuenco

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