‘Disfigured,’ by Amanda Leduc book review – The Washington Post

In one engaging chapter after another, Leduc articulates the dimensions of this problem. She considers various fairy tales, from “The Little Mermaid” to “The Ugly Duckling,” which she dubs “Hans Christian Andersen at his most Hans Christian Andersen.” She also quotes from and analyzes passages from her earliest medical files, discovering in the ways doctors described her condition deeply inscribed attitudes about the limited possibilities of a disabled life.
“It is inconceivable to so many that someone could be disabled and also happy,” she writes, noting that our most archetypal stories provide only two options: glamorous perfection or pitiable tragedy. Trapped in that framework, children judged physically hopeless were once abandoned to die; in more “enlightened” times, warehoused. We’ve made progress, surely, but people who fall outside the parameters of our ideals are still largely excluded. “How many lives have been smothered,” Leduc asks, “or disappeared or haven’t been allowed to flourish because of the stories we tell?”
— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/in-disfigured-a-writer-explores-the-damaging-ways-fairy-tales-shape-our-view-of-the-world–and-ourselves/2020/02/26/16411a74-58ad-11ea-ab68-101ecfec2532_story.html