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Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,003 ratings  ·  224 reviews
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 po
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Paperback, Exploded Views, 253 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Coach House Books (first published February 11th 2020)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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Kate
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
4/5stars

I really wish I loved this more - this is about Disability and Disney, aka an entire chapter of my thesis. While I loved Leduc's conversation on Disability (SO much amazing information in this book such as definitions, discussions of what is currently happening in the Disability Rights movement and the Disability community as a whole, and personal stories from many different disabled people) I found her conversation about Disney and fairy tales very roundabout and lacking. She talked abo
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Althea | themoonwholistens ☾
this book is basically about how disability (or lack thereof) is portrayed in disney/folklore/fairy tales or just stories in general as we grow up. It really made me reflect and understand how I viewed the types of fictional stories that we consume as an audience... especially as kids.

(1)how we should stop making characters that the world would accept but letting the world accept characters that portray real, breathing people
(2)how it affects the way we see ourselves or how we perceive disabled
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Ron Charles
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: special-needs
A brilliant young critic named Amanda Leduc explores this pernicious power of language in her new book, “Disfigured.” Her focus is fairy tales, those make-believe stories gathered hundreds of years ago in the forests of France and Germany, pruned to satisfy the tastes of Victorian audiences and finally polished to a high sheen by Walt Disney. They are, of course, just stories — in the same way the R-word is just a word.

Leduc follows the bread crumbs back into her original experience with fairy t
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Erin Cataldi
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Damn, this book will make you think long and deep about the fairy tales we internalized as kids. Once you think about it, the connection between disability and fairy tale is so obviously there, but since so many of us started watching/reading/hearing these tales in our youth we accepted major themes as truth. Only certain beautiful princesses or maidens were worthy of a happy ending. Disfigurement meant you were deceitful and/or a villain. If you were ugly or beastly (beauty and the beast/ the u ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
'Disability is not a monolith- every disabled person’s experience in the world is different, and the way that we all navigate the world is likewise varied and complex.'

This is one of the most beautiful books I have read in years. Fairy-tales are a part of our lives, serving as a model for modern day stories, often as lessons in morality, a warning, a guiding tale that even smacks of those early after school specials my generation was so fond of.
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Jaclyn
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2019
Oh. My. God. This book. 🙌🏼😭

I'm not disabled, but I've always been a chubby kid and am now a plus-size woman, and I related SO HARD to Leduc's thesis that fairy tales allow only certain types of bodies to be granted happy endings. Leduc also raises many good points on the trope of transformation in fairy tales and superhero stories, and the message therein that you must "overcome" your less-than-"perfect" body to get your happily ever after. There's a lot of emphasis on "overcoming" your own obst
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Christine
Disclaimer: I won an ARC of this on Librarything.

Disfigured is one of those books that isn’t quite what you thought it was going to be, but that’s fine because it is a damn good book. When I entered the early review giveaway, I thought or imagine it to be more of a critique of how disability was presented in the fairy tales, the book, however, is not entirely that so less literary criticism and more a personal reflection about how fairy tales influenced how society sees disability (both physica
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sydney
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
i understand why disney & marvel/superheroes were touched on but aside from the author's exploring her identification with the little mermaid, i found those parts much less interesting than the discussions of early fairytale stories. i liked the personal essay aspect (especially the final chapter and afterward) but i think i expected this to focus more on literary evolution of fantasy/fairytales - imo the way disney has informed the public consciousness of beauty, race, body types, identity as w ...more
Shomeret
One aspect of this book is a memoir of Amanda Leduc, her experience of disability and the influence of fairy tales on her and on society in general. The other is analysis of particular fairy tales and popular culture as they relate to disability. The concept for this book is potentially wonderful, but it needs more organization. Also, as someone who has read academic texts I am accustomed to a certain amount of redundancy, but the repetition in Disfigured is excessive. It could have used more ri ...more
Izzie
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I will scream about this book forever. It made me feel so seen but does a fantastic job at being relatable for disabled people and educational for able bodied people! It was so good!!!!!! Can’t wait to talk about it more on my channel, such a pleasant surprise! If you’re interested in learning more about the disabled experience, while also still wanting a quality read, this is one you need to pick up.
Anna lost in stories *A*
everyone should read this book… and I do mean EVERYONE :) it will open your eyes on so many things most of us see as “normal” in stories, because it’s what we’ve been seeing for so long… the disability representation, if there even is one, and how we take all of what we see and then take it with us into the rest of our lives… especially if you create stories, no matter the format, if it’s books, movies, tv shows or anything else, this should be a must read… but similar thing can be said for all ...more
Stephi
“Why, in all of these stories about someone who wants to be something or someone else, was it always the individual who needed to change, and never the world?”

Excellent examination of the role of disability in traditional and modern fairy tales. This is a subject I have thought about before, and expected more literature about. I wish she dove deeper into her ideas, but the book stayed largely surface level, which of course, is fine, but I wanted more.

4 stars
TraceyL
A look at how people with disabilities have been villainized and infantilized in fairy tales and pop culture. There are some good conversations here. It was interesting to read about how even stories that seem to go against the common tropes (such as Fiona from Shrek becoming an ogre instead of Shrek becoming a handsome prince) are still problematic.

This is also partially a memoir, which I found less interesting than the fairy tale stuff.
Paul Ataua
May 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I am totally embarrassed by the fact that although I have taught English to speakers of other languages for over thirty years, it is only in that last few that I really realized that the ‘disabled’, those with psychiatric problems, the homeless, and anyone outside of narrow specifications of ‘normalcy’ are not to be found in any of the text books. This has led to a more general interest in the in how the ‘different’ are dealt with in stories, and that general interest brought me to this book. ‘D ...more
jocelyn
This is one of those books I parsed through slowly because I wanted to take my time. Normally I devour. Here, it felt necessary to stop, to let myself sit with the topics at hand.

I love fairy tales and folk lore. They're some of my favorite things to read and I never tire of those stories. Yet until reading this I hadn't truly thought about how that has probably colored my sense of the world in terms of disability, disfigurement, and the visibly other. Leduc makes so many connections that had co
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Margaret
Phenomenal. Amanda Leduc entwines her memoir of being a disabled person with cerebral palsy with an analysis of disabled representation in fairy tales, and how the stories we tell about disabled folk still frame disabled people as objects of pity, villans, and/or things to be fixed. I highlighted so many excerpts from this, and I have so many writing ideas now. While fairytale retellings have subverted fairytale tropes in so many ways--feminist retellings, more POC, more LGBTQ+ representation--v ...more
Elizabeth (teacupsandfirereads)
Honestly, if I could give this book more stars I could. Having a disability myself (similar to what Leduc has), I saw myself on every page. I felt all the emotions with this read as well. I had book darts beside me and tagged many passages throughout. The reflections were spot on and definitely had me thinking. Honestly, I don't know what to say other than please read it. Disabled or able-bodied and everything in between, this book will give you something. I will definitely be screaming from the ...more
Carey
Oct 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
While I found this to be an interesting read, there were major issues with this work. The most striking one being that the marketing is completely wrong. This story has barely anything to do with how fairytales shape able-bodied persons views of the disabled. This is mostly a memoir, where the author then attempts to interweave medical definitions and various histories of fairytales, Disney portrayals, and superheroes. Yet the story was not cohesive, and the scope of what the author was trying t ...more
vanessa
3.5. The topic = 5/5, the writing, structure, and execution = 3/5. I learned a lot reading this book as someone who does not know much about where fairy tales come from or the many renditions they have taken over the centuries. I learned a lot about the author's experience growing up with cerebral palsy as well as the experiences of other disabled people she interviews. Some of the chapters were so interesting: the chapter about Marvel, the chapter about Disney + how 2020 Disney is so different ...more
Kate
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Leduc has written a compelling take on Fairy Tales and Disabilities. She analyzes several fairy tales, the well known and lesser known, as well as Disney retellings, Marvel superheroes and more. She illuminates the ways that people with disabilities in Fairy Tales were either invisible or seen as deformed, labeled the villain, or ugly, needed magic or a curse lifted to be normal, they were certainly never the beautiful princess who gets the happy ever after.

Her perspective on growing
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Sam
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was going to be a straightforward nonfiction. I did struggle at first with it being more of a mix of memoir and nonfiction. Once I got over that I really enjoyed the book. It definitely makes you think about the stories we internalized and how far back we've been telling them. I will say this book is great for more of a beginner for disability advocacy and if you're more a purely academic mind then I recommend something from the Works Consulted chapter.

I did enjoy how relatable a
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Corvus
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: disability
Review to come
Chelsea
my favorite type of nonfiction: stuff that exposes me to perspectives i've never considered. definitely will make you think twice about some of your favorite childhood stories. ...more
Jennie Chantal
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was SO interesting! I made a lot of notes, learned a lot and will be thinking about these insights when I am watching/reading all kinds of stories. Really unique and valuable. Highly recommended!

"When you're taught that the disabled body is bad. When you use language that reinforces this viewpoint, even and perhaps especially when you use that language unconsciously without considering what it might mean to speak of someone’s lived reality as a metaphor for difficulty in your own life. Or w
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Karen
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An intimate and warm writing style that weaves the author’s personal story with the stories handed down through the ages. Combined with other disability justice scholars I gained an excellent overview of disability and how it’s perceptions have caused harm and are beginning to evolve. As the parent of a disabled person (identity first?? I’m trying!) Amanda gives me a good foundation of disability justice and how the world will be made better as it accepts, adapts, and celebrates. And we live our ...more
Darragh
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Thoroughly enjoyed this!
Alexis
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I really loved this book. It was an analysis of fairy tales and what they tell us about disability, interspersed with memoir. This was a moving book, and I learned a lot.
Jayme
A great mix of memoir and essays on the use of disability and disfigurement in fairy tales and popular culture. A conversation you don't hear every day. So many pieces that I would like to read more on. In particular, I thought it was fascinating how the 17th-century French literary salon, which was used by women to subvert the patriarchy and arranged marriages and then to see how those conversations kinda went backwards later on with fairytales like de Villeneuve's 18th-century version of Beaut ...more
Maya Sophia
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this utterly fascinating. I had one class in college where we did a single unit on disability studies (this, obviously, is part of the problem), but I found it so eyeopening and it's been something I've been interested in ever since, but there is a serious lack of literature on the topic. Leduc does a phenomenal job of defining what she is aiming to do in this book and then proceeds to do exactly that very, very well. She mainly looks at how disability has either been a problem that need ...more
Amanda
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Leduc had a lot to say about disability in fairy tales, particularly Disney reinterpreted of classic Grimm's and Andersen's fairy tales.

She stressed aspects of fairy tales that I'd certainly never considered before, such as how often villains are reduced to their disability, such as Scar, literally the character's name in The Lion King. She also discussed how the "good" characters are always known by their beauty, handsomeness, charm, or goodness and how the villains are often reduced to evil a
...more
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Amanda Leduc was born in Canada and has lived in England, British Columbia, Ontario, and Scotland. She has published articles across Canada, the US, and the UK, was shortlisted for the 2006 CBC Literary Awards, and was First Runner Up in PRISM International's 2008 Short Fiction Contest. In 2012, she was shortlisted for the TNQ Edna Staebler CNF Contest and the PRISM International Short Fiction Con ...more

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