09/24/2013 11:15 am ET Updated Nov 24, 2013

Girls, No More Kissing the Frog Prince

All my life, I looked at the princess who kissed a frog story as just a cute children's fairy tale where the poor prince gets bewitched by the evil witch, who then turns him into a frog. He, in turn, finds a nice princess who wants to retrieve her golden ball from the pond and makes a deal with her: he gives her the ball in exchange for her taking him to the palace, sharing her dinner plate with him, taking him to her room, and then kissing him, the famous lip-lock that turns him into the prince. She took the ball, agreed to his conditions, and ran into the palace. When he showed up at the doors later on as she was eating her dinner, she ignored him and her promises at first. But when her father learned of the story, he obliged her to fulfill her promise for that is what a good princess does. She abides by her father's request, kisses the frog and marries the prince he becomes, and they live happily ever after.

Think about this story for a second. The frog prince is an innocent young man who encounters two kinds of female characters: the evil witch and the "gullible, kind-hearted princess" who sacrifices herself by kissing a frog so he may turn into the prince. The other man in the story is the princess's father, a patriarch who expects his daughter to be "a good girl" and fulfill a promise, even if the frog manipulated her into making it.

Being a "good girl," even if it entails doing something disgusting, such as kissing a slimy frog to save him from the curse of the "evil female" figure, is the core message here. The only paradigms provided for girls in this story are either "evil" or "gullible." No one wants to be "evil," or "a bad girl." So, the good girl option in this story entails not confronting the frog for his unreasonable request, tolerating having a frog eat from her own plate, blindly obeying her father by taking the frog to her intimate space (her bedroom), and -- worst of all -- performing a disgusting act of kissing the slimy frog.

How many women has been that good girl before? How many women tolerated men crossing a line in their behavior and manipulation by obliging them to do what does not make sense ("kissing the frog") in the name of being a "good girl"? How many women fear that if they claim their voice and put a boundary on a man's unacceptable behavior, they will be the "bad, evil witch"? Has it ever happened to you? It has happened to me for sure.

Well, get this: What we have been told all our lives about the princess and the frog prince is not the full story. As a matter of fact, it is a major deviation from the original story, where there are very different characterizations of the female characters, along with the male characters of the prince and the father. You would be shocked to know how different the original story is in its details and message. Here is the original version according to Erin Schmidt, writing on Ezine Articles:

The witch in the story wasn't really evil at all. Her name was Ellspeth, and as she told it in her autobiography Ellspeth's Book of Shadows, Prince Heinrich wasn't as innocent as he later claimed. He refused to get out of her path as she walked up the mountain pass, searching for wild witch hazel. To add insult to injury, he called her all kinds of foul names. Ellspeth cursed the ill-tempered young prince for his own good, to teach him a lesson in manners.

When the princess (whose name was Anika) came along, tossing her famous golden ball in the air, and dropped her ball into the bog that Heinrich called home, Heinrich saw it as his golden opportunity to take advantage of Anika. He offered to retrieve her golden ball from the pond, if she'd stay at the castle. His plan was mooch off Anika and her father the king, while all the while staying warm, moist and comfortable in the royal palace. Anika agreed, but she could only put up with Heinrich's selfish, greedy ways for so long. When he wanted her to allow his slimy carcass to sleep on her pillow (and kiss him), Anika got disgusted and threw Heinrich face-first into a stone wall. That would have killed an ordinary frog. But in Heinrich's case, it made him wake up and smell the bogwater. He realized he'd been an awful jerk, and turned back into a prince.

Anika, however, chose not to forgive Heinrich's thoughtlessness. She and the prince did not get married, and they certainly never lived happily ever after. In fact, after that incident, whenever Anika and Heinrich crossed paths, she was polite but distant to him. He accepted that he was never going to get anywhere with her romantically, though in his later years, he did become rather bitter about the lack of a closer relationship. He's said to have circulated rumors that the princess was born with webbed toes, which were later corrected through surgery. In fact, webbed toes ran in Heinrich's family, though he himself did not inherit the gene.

WOW! Right? I feel all girls and women have been cheated of the original story where the message is so fundamentally different from the mainstream version of the story. There is no evil witch here, but a woman who has practically put a restraining order on an abusive prince by bewitching him into a frog when he did not stop his verbal abuse of her. Similarly, the princess who tolerated the frog's attempts at taking advantage of her for a little while stopped the process by throwing him off the wall instead of kissing him. In other words, she did exactly the opposite of what girls and women have been told all of our lives: she did NOT kiss him. She did not listen to her father's expectation for her to fulfill a promise from someone who is obviously taking advantage of her and she definitely was not a "nice girl" by the traditional definition of a "nice girl." Instead, she was a strong princess who had no tolerance for abuse or being taking advantage of by slimy frogs just as the witch did not have any tolerance for his abuse.

The beauty of the second version of the story is that it is through the princess's boundary-setting around his violation of her space (throwing him) and not tolerating and rewarding his violation (the kiss) that acted as the wake-up call for him. I love it! Her claiming her power and owning her voice even when she was disgusted and angry at him is the very thing that he needed to wake up and realize his violation of the women he encountered -- both the witch and the princess. When girls and women do that in real life, we are called "mean," "cruel" and even "bitches." So many women shy away from showing real boundaries and showing our disgust and end up tolerating a violation to ourselves just in the name of being "good."

Well girls, here is the deal: no more kissing the frog. The truth is we can only stay true to ourselves as girls and women... to our values, to our needs and to our desires in truth and honesty. Being "a good girl," as I see it in the original story, is being a girl that knows how to create boundaries and stop violations and abuse. It is being a girl who is not afraid of showing her true feelings. A good girl is a free girl, who can be herself in her truth and in her freedom so she may be her own protector and the master of her own destiny.

We all want a "good prince" in our lives. Although it is vitally important to remember that a good prince does not manipulate, nor violate, and definitely does not require the princess to perform an unreasonable act, such as kissing a frog. A good prince is one that stands for his integrity and truth and would only expect that of the princess ☺. It is TIME to correct the story for all the girls in our lives -- including the one within us!