One thing I love is finding old version of fairy tales we still have today and seeing how they have changed over the years. Often these changes reflect societal trends, and the comparison and contrast between the tales is just fascinating to me.
Case in point: Little Red Riding Hood. This is an excellent article written by a woman who had studied the tale far more and longer than I have and worth reading on its own. But I will make a few points since it influences how I tell the tale through my photos.
In the older versions, Little Red Riding Hood is not the hapless victim she is usually in our modern tales. She is clever, and comes up with ways to save herself. In the end, the only help she receives is from two washer women, doing laundry in a river. But she refuses to let the wolf overcome her. She will not submit to him and is bright and tenacious in her fight to save herself. There is no waiting around for a woodsman to come save her in this story. She will save herself.
The old tale is also woven with all sorts of bizarre sexual undertones. I chose the most blatant example of this for my photo below. In this part of the story, Little Red Riding Hood has come to Grandmother’s house, where the wolf already is and Grandmother has been eaten. The wolf is under the covers in bed and tells Little Red to come join him. But instead of simply asking her to come into bed, he commands her to remove her shoes, her cloak, her stockings, her skirt, her shirt… on and on, one piece of clothing at a time in a twisted striptease for his own delight until she is completely naked. Each item he has her take off, he orders her to throw into the fire, leaving her unable to cover up again.
And it is during this process that Little Red finally figures out who he is and what’s going on. But she also knows the if she stops now she tips her hand and the wolf will attack. So she has to continue, despite her growing fear and dread.
But, as I said, our heroine is clever. Before the wolf can get her into bed with him, she comes up with an excuse to slip outside where she immediately takes off running through the woods, despite her complete lack of clothing. And with the help of the kindly washer women she comes across, she saves herself and the wolf is drowned.
That’s the kind of girl I can admire. One who takes a dreadful situation and refuses to stand by and let it continue being dreadful. She takes charge, and while she has to endure some unpleasant things, she doesn’t let it rule and destroy her. She is a fascinating archetype to explore photographically.
Our model here is the lovely Veronica Ricci, who did a great job!