Rachel Zegler, the star of Disney’s upcoming live-action “Snow White,” has spent what seems like every interview about the movie regurgitating the tired talking points of current-day feminism. Zegler, along with the many women who share her beliefs, blindly undervalues the long-standing feminine traditions that deviate from her ideal girl boss archetypes. She ought to reconsider what women truly find fulfilling.
When asked about Disney’s new angle on the fairytale during an interview, Zegler said, “I just mean that it’s no longer 1937, and we absolutely wrote a Snow White … [who’s] not gonna be saved by the prince, and she’s not gonna be dreaming about true love, she’s gonna be dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be.”
Zegler’s “progressive” take is actually regressive, mirroring trends that negatively impact marital stability and social cohesion. She fails to see the value in a reality many women do live and many women do find fulfilling. Zegler and those who share her beliefs could benefit from listening to the classics rather than jumping to critique them, starting with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Jo March, like Zegler, is strong-headed, talented, and ambitious — and paralleling these qualities is her disdain for a traditional trajectory. Jo is incredibly resistant to the institution of marriage, saying, “I’m happy as I am, and love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man.” Her rejection of what is classically feminine mirrors Zegler’s comments.
But what Jo had that Zegler doesn’t is a Meg March. Meg, Jo’s oldest sister, serves as an emblem of womanhood woven throughout Alcott’s classic and in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 movie adaptation. In the film, Meg stuns her sister, who cannot fathom a life dedicated to anything other than her career. Meg reframes homemaking from the enslavement to “mortal man” that Jo puts forward.
“Just because my dreams are different than yours, doesn’t mean they’re unimportant,” Meg explains.
Like Zegler, Jo cannot envision a content life for herself — or any woman — that’s predicated on anything other than professional accomplishment. But the most integral, fulfilling profession of them all, and often the most undervalued, is that of being a wife and a mother.
Being a mother and a wife ought not to be overlooked by the working woman but rather embraced; it’s the most difficult but also the most rewarding and important profession. Zegler is a prime example of the sort of woman who has been blinded by modern feminism to a life that many women find great happiness in.
Jo herself encounters the harsh drawback of her ambition. In the 2019 film, she echoes Zegler, saying, “I’m so sick of people saying love is all a woman is fit for.” And then, in one of the most honest and difficult moments of her womanhood, Jo admits, “But I’m so lonely.” Jo, like many women who have convinced themselves to prioritize their careers, will often realize they actually desire certain aspects of tradition they initially overlooked. If women are as honest as Jo, Zegler’s out-of-touch take on “Snow White” doesn’t actually resonate with them the way she may think.
According to a study from the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), “Strong majorities of mothers under 55 agree that housework is as fulfilling as employment. Depending on the year and the survey you prefer to cite, between 53% and 79% of mothers had this view.” Rather than adhering to the story and values the original “Snow White” is celebrated for, Zegler touts the revamped, progressive spin that nobody asked for.
This disinterest in the home and its duties and rewards is indicative of a larger trend burdening women and society alike. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, the marriage rate has dropped by nearly 60 percent over the last 50 years, from 76.5 percent in 1970 to just over 31 percent in 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study reporting that “delayed childbearing” has been on the rise among American women since the 1970s, and a study from the U.S. Census Bureau found that in 2019, the median age of women giving birth rose to 30. As women put off marriage and family or forgo them altogether, they may find their happiness — and society itself — suffers.
Instead of hammering the notion that women would be better fulfilled exchanging a husband and a family for dreams of being a mid-tier business executive at a corporation where nobody cares to know her name, we should let women grow into roles they feel inclined to inhabit. For some women, it’s becoming an ambitious Hollywood actress like Zegler. For some women, it’s making a home. Let women make decisions for themselves, Rachel, and you may be proven wrong, for oftentimes, “as Meg learned … a woman’s happiest kingdom is home, her highest honor the art of ruling it not as a queen, but as a wise wife and mother.”