I've been watching the movie Stardust and thinking of one of the biggest sexism fables of all time - the witch.
In this particular movie, Michele Pffeiffer's character is a witch who is trying to kill Clare Danes (a star) and eat her heart out so that she can gain back eternal life. What struck me was that she starts out eating the last another star's heart so that she can gain back her youth and beauty, but she loses it each time she casts a spell, getting older and uglier. True, this character is portrayed as evil, however, it really irritated me that as a woman, she is unable to be both powerful and beautiful at the same time.
This movie is not the only one I've seen where this is the idea. The Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz (who people hate and fear, unlike the pretty Good Witch who doesn't really do much besides fly around in a pink bubble), the witch in Into the Woods (as soon as she gets her beauty back at the end of Act 1 she loses her powers), the witch in the new Disney movie Rapunzel (who can only be beautiful with the aid of the magic of Rapunzel's magic hair).
Why, even in Disney movies being marketed to young girls who we'd like to be strong and independent, are women still showing women as either powerful, ugly, antagonistic hags or sweet, pretty, childish (for the most part) girls? Why are we still feeding into the princess thing in 2010?
In one of the last songs in Into the Woods, The Witch sings "I'm not good, I'm not bad, I'm just right." As women, maybe that's what we should aspire to be. Just ourselves, whatever we want to be. Because, contrary to what mass media wants us to believe, we can have both - we can be powerful, and that's beautiful.