Julia Cormack

The Sleeping Beauty

Bachelor of Design Illustration Publication Diversity Education Narrative Queer Storytelling

Sleeping Beauty: A Reworked Fairy Tale for Children

‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is a children’s picture book, updating the well-known fairy tale with a range of gender identities, which challenges traditional gender roles.

Our established gender constructs restrict children to binary presets of behavioural choices, and are encoded through mass media messaging. Gender-stereotyped messaging camouflages behind narrative devices, symbolism, and character design. Familiar fairy tales often endorse such outdated messages due to their age-old presence and similar origins. Subsequently, formative minds believe such stereotypes are true through repeated transmission. Consequently, children internalise these messages. This can result in repercussions like misogyny, sexism, and queerphobia, due to confined worldviews.

Since the target audience for many fairy tales includes young minds, this traditional messaging is no longer suitable. Further, more needs to be accomplished for non-binary portrayals, which are saliently low. Therefore, inspired by the need for increased representation, I designed, illustrated, and rewrote an updated version of Sleeping Beauty. I employed subtle design choices to depict genders that reflect the spectrum, such as colour and symbolism, emphasising that this concept should feel accepted within society. Additionally, I felt the need to retain the original title to further highlight the fact that gender diversity should feel "normal", rather than alienating the story by pointing out its differences.

Through this, I hope to highlight non-binary representation and overall gender diversity, as well as teach universal acceptance and kindness from an impressionable age.