15 Fairy Tales That Are Now Considered Racist

Photo of author

By Darryl Henderson

Fairy tales are woven into our lives; we grow up with popular stories, and we see media influenced by classic tales. But because these old tales were written a long time ago, modern-day standards now consider these 17 fairy tales racist.

Peter Pan

Photo Credit: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock

Peter Pan is one of the most beloved children’s tales, yet its potential for racism has grown in modern times. This is in particular reference to the way in which Native Americans are portrayed in the story; Smithsonian Magazine comments that it’s almost “impossible to depict them in a way that’s not offensive”.

Hansel and Gretel

Photo Credit: Marbury/Shutterstock

Hansel and Gretel had us all worrying about eating too many sweets as children (and as adults), but the bigger problem in this story is the portrayal of the witch and of Romani people. Some believe this is a negative stereotype that is still reflected today in modern Europe.


Photo Credit: Ironika/Shutterstock

Cinderella is often believed to be the most important fairy tale depiction of the perfect beauty: she’s fair-skinned, fair-haired, and innocent. Because of this focus on the ‘ideal beauty standard’, many believe it insults the idea of diverse beauty standards and darker features.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Photo Credit: TTL Deez/Shutterstock

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is one of the most famous tales of treachery and theft, but it’s also one that could be considered a stereotype for Middle Eastern cultures. Many may see a problem with Middle Eastern people being depicted as those who engage in dishonest behavior.

The Little Mermaid

Photo Credit: SaltedLife/Shutterstock

The Little Mermaid has seen many different adaptations. In certain versions of this classic underwater fairytale, the sea characters are structured under a social hierarchy. This implies a racial viewpoint in which certain creatures are deemed to be less important because they don’t look as attractive as mermaids.

Puss in Boots

Photo Credit: chingyunsong/Shutterstock

In the exciting fairytale Puss in Boots, it’s not a cat wearing a pair of shoes that’s the main issue; it’s the racist implications of the ogre character. It’s suggested that the ogre is barbaric in comparison, hinting at the idea that anyone from other cultures who are different is, therefore, a barbarian.


Photo Credit: TTL Deez/Shutterstock

In the original Grimm fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin, the antagonist imp demands an unborn child in return for spinning gold – but it doesn’t exactly go to plan. The story is considered to have racial biases that link directly to the way Jews were viewed in medieval Europe.


Photo Credit: Kolbakova Olga/Shutterstock

Rapunzel was originally a fairytale hailing from Germany. It was first published in 1790, according to Dictionary.com, and the Germanic background means that Rapunzel was written with a European beauty standard: white skin and blonde hair. This fairytale is another that might insinuate to be beautiful is to look this way.

Tintin in the Congo

Photo Credit: Irfan Rosyada/Shutterstock

Tintin is a well-known character in children’s literature, but his tale of traveling to the Congo hasn’t been painted in the best light—namely, for the African cultures it depicts. The people of the Congo are shown as being rather naïve, while the white-skinned Tintin is more intelligent.

Aladdin and the Lamp

Photo Credit: LMelinda Nagy/Shutterstock

Before Robin Williams’s incredible portrayal of the genie, Aladdin and his lamp was a simple fairytale—but one with potentially racist undertones. The setting as a whole is labeled ‘the Orient’ rather than recognizing that oriental culture actually has vast differences and many diverse places.

Snow White

Photo Credit: OlgaKan/Shutterstock

Snow White’s very name comes from the fact that her skin is as white as snow, which is highlighted as one of her most dazzling beauty traits. Thanks to the focus on Snow White’s beauty, many believe this suggests that only those who look like Snow White fit into the ‘perfect’ beauty standard.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Photo Credit: Martijn de Waal/Shutterstock

In the original fairytale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, the title character is met with negative judgment over the non-European clothes he’s wearing. This perpetuates the idea that anything other than Eurocentric appearance or fashion is inferior and highlights a lack of cultural diversity.

The Story of Little Black Sambo

Photo Credit: Dylanhatfield/Shutterstock

When The Story of Little Black Sambo was first published, it was enjoyed by many. But recently, its “representation of Black people through racial stereotypes” has been seen as problematic, says National Museums Liverpool. Museums have even featured this book in their collections, which highlight racial issues.

Babar the Little Elephant

Photo Credit: Medusa’s Brother/Shutterstock

Babar the Little Elephant tells the story of the young Babar returning to the jungle from Europe. Unfortunately, the depiction of European customs has a culturally insensitive undertone. The story implies that Babar’s European clothing and views are superior to his original culture.

The Princess and the Pea

Photo Credit: Ermolaev Alexander/Shutterstock

Lastly, The Princess and the Pea is another fairytale considered problematic due to its depiction of women. In the story, the woman who can feel the hardness of the pea “must be a real princess because she was so delicate”, says the University of Colorado, implying nobility has a conventional beauty standard.

Up Next: 17 Things Men Start Doing After 50 That They Never Did Before

Photo Credit: Christo/Shutterstock

As the years go by, many men find themselves changing. In fact, when they reach the age of 50, they may start having a different behavior and habits, distancing themselves from their younger selves. Here are 17 things men begin doing after 50 that they never did before.


17 Reasons Why Men Refuse To Date Anymore

Photo Credit: Andrii Iemelianenko/Shutterstock

The dating game is hard enough when everybody wants to do it, but it’s even harder when men give up on dating altogether! Men might be taking a break from dating for many reasons, such as the following 17 examples.


17 Household Items That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Photo Credit: Estrada Anton/Shutterstock

In our homes, we accumulate many items over the years, even if we don’t need them. Not surprisingly, many people want to become more minimalistic, reconsidering the amount and types of household items they have. Here are 17 household items that are an utter waste of money.