Feminist fairytales to be brought to life in Canberra
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Feminist fairytales to be brought to life in Canberra

Cinderella with crows feet and grey hair. Beauty taming the Beast while leaning on a cane.

A Canberra illustrator is bringing to life childhood fairytales but not as you remember them.

Canberra illustrator Erin-Claire Barrow with characters from her feminist fairytales.

Canberra illustrator Erin-Claire Barrow with characters from her feminist fairytales. Credit:Graham Tidy

Instead Erin-Claire Barrow will re-imagine the heroines of fairytales like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Allerleirauh, The Princess and the Pea, and Rapunzel as clever, capable women who rely on themselves, rather than love or circumstances, to escape tricky situations.

The Canberra artist is one of seven ACT women who won funding for their ideas on Wednesday under the YWCA Canberra's Great Ydeas Small Grants Program.

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Ms Barrow said she was inspired by her own experiences, wanting as a child to read about women who were resourceful, brave and independent.

"I wanted to take these traditional stories and keep the charm and the magic but create a version where we can expect heroines who save themselves instead of waiting around for Prince Charming and where the end of the story isn't just marriage or happily ever after," Ms Barrow said.

"It would have been amazing as a kid to have heroines in the stories I loved who actually went out and made a difference themselves instead of waiting around for somebody to save them or for circumstances to change.

"It would have made me feel like I could have been stronger and done anything, or had more control over my life and that fitting a conventional mould wasn't the only way to find happiness."

In her 'feminist fairytales', Cinderella is older, Beauty walks with a cane, and Rapunzel is black.

She said she wanted to increase the visibility of traditionally under-represented characters in these popular stories.

"We've got so many young women and men growing up who see these fairytales where everyone is straight, and everyone's white, and everyone's able-bodied so when I was re-imagining these fairytales I was thinking what if Beauty in Beauty and the Beast actually had a disability and had to walk with a cane? How would that change her story?" she said.

Ms Barrow is aiming to have an exhibition in Canberra in November but also hopes to self-publish her unconventional fairytales in a small story book through the Great Ydeas grant.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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