“The prince knew at once, looking at her hands, she was no stranger to any household chore.”
Every story about a poor but hardworking girl who ends up marrying a prince, getting a great fortune, or both, has this line. At least in Romanian.
Little girls imagine those hands are translucent, and the prince is somewhat psychic. Years later, for those who become acquainted with household chores, it becomes obvious that dry, flaky, cracked hands would put off not only a prince, but also a poor and smelly type of slacker. Those hands have broken, often dirty fingernails, patches of thickened skin, and bruises that never seem to heal.
In real life, it’s clear that princes don’t have any reason to look at or appreciate such hands, when they can afford delicately perfumed, perfectly manicured fingers, so girls have their nails done and keep them away from anything that might chip the polish. Somehow, their “prince” will “know” what they’re worth. But… what is that “worth”? Often, it’s just a random price within the margins of the “market” chosen by ambition. There’s a “prince” in every neighborhood, for any means, for any fading aspiration. Funny how consistent value remains intact, waiting to be recognized and put into practice. Just flip the story; you may understand something else.
More than ever, there is great need for skilful hands. In times when reality is a layered veil easily manipulated (usually for profit) by whoever affords to spread a version of the charade, it is crucial to know how to do the basics yourself. It keeps you closer to truth, to who you really are. Now, you don’t have to actually devote yourself to physical work. Just know how to take care of yourself (and those you care about), so that you don’t starve when the restaurants aren’t open, or drown in dirt when you can’t afford a maid.
Cinderella and her sort of characters may be confusing. They embody important values, but these values are often distorted and polluted by some toxic nothings, and some girls, instead of learning how to be useful to themselves, fade away in the misery of their illusions.
In order to learn something valuable from Cinderella, she has to have calluses and blisters on her palms, and the dude must be a great guy – whether he’s a prince or not – who kisses her bruises and handles everything until they heal. Afterwards, they help each other, and everything gets easier, because, dear girls, not only does a great man appreciate your skillfulness, but he is quite skillful himself. A great man is worth more than royal status and the phrase “they lived happily ever after”. A great man embodies “happily ever after”, even in the darkest of times. And so does a great woman.