Books·Canadian

Disfigured

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space is a book by Amanda Leduc.

Amanda Leduc

Challenges the ableism of fairy tales and offers new ways to celebrate the magic of all bodies. In fairy tales, happy endings are the norm - as long as you're beautiful and walk on two legs. After all, the ogre never gets the princess. And since fairy tales are the foundational myths of our culture, how can a girl with a disability ever think she'll have a happy ending? By examining the ways that fairy tales have shaped our expectations of disability, Disfigured will point the way toward a new world where disability is no longer a punishment or impediment but operates, instead, as a way of centering a protagonist and helping them to cement their own place in a story, and from there, the world. Through the book, Leduc ruminates on the connections we make between fairy tale archetypes - the beautiful princess, the glass slipper, the maiden with long hair lost in the tower - and tries to make sense of them through a twenty-first-century disablist lens. From examinations of disability in tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen through to modern interpretations ranging from Disney to Angela Carter, and the fight for disabled representation in today's media, Leduc connects the fight for disability justice to the growth of modern, magical stories, and argues for increased awareness and acceptance of that which is other - helping us to see and celebrate the magic inherent in different bodies. (From Coach House Books) 

Leduc is the communications and development coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) in Brampton, Ont. She is also the author of the novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men. She was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize.

Why Amanda Leduc wrote Disfigured

"Those who we would traditionally think of as disabled people don't see themselves represented as protagonists in fairy tales — and able-bodied people don't see disabled people in fairy tales at all. What happens is you see disabled people or disability represented in the villains. There's always an understanding that disability is either something that's temporary — it's visited on someone and it's something that they need to overcome — in order to get their happy ending. 

The idea is that disability is visited on someone as a punishment for how bad a person they are. There's a lasting impact when you're exposed to stories like that from a young age.- Amanda Leduc

"When it does happen to the villain, it's the queen in Snow White who transforms herself into an ugly hag or one of the versions of Cinderella when the stepsisters have their eyes pecked out at the end as punishment for how evil they are and how badly they've treated Cinderella.

"The idea is that disability is visited on someone as a punishment for how bad a person they are. There's a lasting impact when you're exposed to stories like that from a young age. It couches and influences how you view disability in the real world, both in terms of yourself as a disabled person if you are disabled and then also if you're someone who's ostensibly viewing disability from the outside as an able-bodied person."

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Amanda Leduc

Essayist and fiction writer Amanda Leduc on exploring the portrayal of disability in fairy tales in her book Disfigured. 15:11

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