Hats and Taste and Fairytales

When I used to read my version of The Blue Fairy Book, there were basically two types of headdresses the ladies wore.

There was this kind:

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Or, as I liked to think about it, the two-pointed hat. And there was this kind:

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I considered this—you guessed it—the one-pointed hat.

For reasons that are obscure to me now, I firmly believed that the one-pointed hats were beautiful, and the two-pointed hats were hideous.

Why? Why did I have to dichotomize? What is it about fairytales that seems so committed to such sharp divisions?

Or is it just me? I remember fervently believing that there were two kinds of people: those who liked gold better, and those who liked silver better, and I put myself squarely in the silver camp. I associate this so much with fairytales, but maybe it's just being young?

Are you a one-pointed hat person or a two-pointed hat person? Is this what's behind our dysfunctional political system? Does anyone have all the answers?

10 thoughts on “Hats and Taste and Fairytales

  1. Oops! I also meant to say that in fairy tales there are two kinds of people. Those who are polite and kind, and those who are greedy and rude.

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  2. I was also a one-pointed hat (and a silver) person. But I think I remember this being partially because the characters presented as “beautiful” and “good” (princesses in towers etc.) were always drawn wearing the one-pointed hats, while the wicked stepmothers and so forth were depicted with the two-pointed hats. Is this way off base? Does anybody else remember this? It has to be some sort of Disney image or maybe just the illustrations from my various colored fairy books or… I don’t know.
    Objectively the two-pointed hat is ghastly, I think, but then the one-pointed hat looks fairly weird to me now as well. I remain a silver person, however.

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  3. Exactly! This addresses the question of the sharp divisions in fairy tales in general– they’re stories of moral instruction, after all, which means that any murkiness in the message is discouraged.

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  4. Right? THere must have been Sleeping Beauty or something who had a really kick-ass one-pointed hat, because—it’s just weird to wear a cone with a scarf floating off the end of it. And yet, it seemed really desirable at the time.

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  5. Malefica in Sleeping Beauty certainly was the epitome of two-pointed hat evil. I agree with you on the silver part, identifying strongly with silver (or against gold?). Why is gold bad, and silver good? For me, I think it must have been somewhat caused by reading Tolkien, with his partiality for silver and stars.
    As for the dichotomising, I lean back on good old Claude Levi-Strauss (see for instance this: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/weekinreview/08rohter.html?_r=0 )We just seem to be built that way.

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  6. There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better. That’s Tom Robbins from Still Life with Woodpecker. Which, now that I think about it, would be interesting to read again. I read it as a teen and thought it was amazing, but I wonder if I would feel the same now?

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  7. Ha! I also loved Tom Robbins as a teen and wonder about re-reading from time to time, but generally decide against it because what if it isn’t as magical as it was the first time around? (Jitterbug Perfume was the one that first got me.)
    But about pointed hats. I had (and my kids now have) a version of Sleeping Beauty in which the 7 fairies who bestow gifts have 1- and 2- and even 3-pointed hats! And because these were all GOOD fairies, I thought all those hats were generally ok. I also had a book about medieval weddings that told the story of the betrothals and weddings of a wealthy couple and a peasant couple (all in their mid teens), and featured lots of interesting hats, all shown in a positive light. So I never developed an aversion to the 2-pointed hat. But looking at the example photos, the 2-pointed hat IS rather terrible. And if I am to wear a hat, I would prefer it not have any points at all!

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