Should fairy tales be cancelled? Mum believes they create 'depression and anxiety'

Watch: Mum shares why she thinks fairy tales can negatively influence children

A mum believes fairy tales negatively influence children's beliefs and even mental health due to things like "representation, women, [and] body image".

Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, commentator Bushra Shaikh said, "There's this element of airy-fairy, head in the clouds, romanticised idea, unrealistic expectations of adulthood..." to which presenter Ranvir Singh can be heard jumping in to ask – "Is that not what childhood's all about?"

"No it's not," Shaikh, who has three children, insisted. "It's about being real, what are we teaching our kids? We know that 90% of under 30s have this unrealistic idea of life. Yes we need to redefine the fairy tale [but] why call it a fairy tale?"

Singh then asked which bit bothers her in particular, whether it was "the damsel in distress" or the "kissing sleeping beauty when she's asleep and no consent" element.

"It's everything," Shaikh was quick to respond. "It's things like representation, women, body image. This stuff creates depression and anxiety."

Read more: How to spot anxiety in your child – and how to help them

Bushra Shaikh (R) and Shay Kaur Grewal (L) discuss in debate over fairy tales. (Good Morning Britain/@GMB)
Bushra Shaikh (R) and Shay Kaur Grewal (L) debate fairy tales. (Good Morning Britain/@GMB/ITV)

Broadcaster and mother-of-one Shay Kaur Grewal also offered her views in the debate.

"I have a five-year-old daughter, and so for me, I think you're absolutely right, as a person of colour I'm constantly looking at books that will represent her," she said.

"But actually, when you're talking about fairy tales, we've discussed cinderella, nowadays we have the more modern cinderella in which she actually helps the prince. It's a story flipped on its head.

"So you can enjoy these fairy tales," she added, saying there was nothing more she loved than reading to her daughter at night and having a bit of fun.

Shaikh then suggested reading something different and questioned why we still need to call them fairy tales.

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Kaur Grewal pointed out, "These fairy tales actually allow you as a parent to talk about some of those harder subjects that you may not want to discuss", referencing lessons about not trusting strangers in Hansel and Gretel as an example.

"I just think we all need to lighten up and have some fun," she added. "At the end of the day these are very old folk tales from the 18th century and there are so many different versions and adaptations."

Magical mushroom house on pages of opened book in a fantastic forest, to represent fairy tale. (Getty Images)
Do you still read your kids fairy tales? (Getty Images)

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Kaur Grewal said the story of Ninja Red Riding Hood (instead of Little Red Riding hood) was one of her favourites.

Presenter Ben Shephard then asked, "So taking the tradition and adapting it for a more modern contemporary setting?"

"Absolutely," she said. "If you look at these fairy tales they have been changed and adapted around probably one-two hundred times anyway."

Twitter users have responded to the debate with their own opinions. One wrote: "So all the disney movies like snow White, beauty and the beast and tangled should be cancelled then? I loved reading my nieces the stories and tbh they are 100's of years old and changed over time from the original stories."

Another said: "Tbh one of my favourite memories is having a sleep over at my great grandma and before bed we had a cuddle and a brother grimm story and my gran tried to do the voices, she carried this on till she passed."