Once upon a time there was a princess who was very very pretty. She had an easy laugh, and was known throughout the kingdom for her kindness. Men, women and children sought advice from the kind, wise, and pretty princess. She was honest and fair and helped those who asked.
One day, a handsome prince came from a land far away to see the princess who everyone spoke of so fondly.
He arrived, and the princess, dressed in a beautiful gown called him into her court. The suitor laughed uproariously the moment he laid eyes on her. “Why, you are kind of heart, your face is pretty, but you are far too plump to be my queen- to be truly beautiful.”
And with that, the prince rode away, his laughter heard long after he faded into the distance.
The princess, not used to such cruelty, wept, filling the pond that she sat beside with tears. The princess cried and cried and as the leaves fell and the winter came, the tears froze. The villagers, missing their happy princess, took the frozen tears and used it as a looking glass. Surely, the princess would see her beauty through her grief and return to her kind ways.
But as the villagers lifted the heavy oculus, a strong wind blew, the balance was jarred, and the mirror crashed breaking into millions of jagged pieces on the ground.
The princess looked down on the ruin from her balcony and saw only her warped reflection in the pieces on the grass. Not even her face was beautiful. The broken glass showed only her tear-stained face, puffy eyes and red nose.
Devastated by her atrocious appearance, the princess returned to her chambers, heartbroken, vowing to never leave.
After beginning this period of isolation, the castle’s fool would be sent every day to try and entertain her by telling her jokes and stories. Each day, the princess would sigh heavily and wave him away, never leaving her bed, tears still occasionally spilling down her cheeks.
One day, the fool could no longer idly perform while the princess sat, sullen sad.
“Princess,” he asked, “why do you cry?”
“Because I am hideous. My kingdom deserves a beautiful ruler, not a fat, ugly, princess.”
“Princess, you are very beautiful. You helped so many. Your heart is so good, your wit is unmatched, and your intelligence is far superior to any King in any of the kingdoms. Your kindness has been sung about by bards traveling across the world. You are beautiful in ways that shine through your eyes and make your face glow. You are beautiful.” And the fool left.
The princess fell asleep but sent for the fool the next day.
“Fool, my suitor called me plump. How can I believe you when you say I’m beautiful?”
“Princess, you are soft and commanding and strong. Where he saw “plump”, your kingdom sees lush and voluptuous; jovian and curvaceous. Your body is beautiful.”
With that, the fool left again.
The princess slept, more peacefully, and called for the fool again the next day.
“Fool, the looking glass showed me my hideous face. How can you say I’m beautiful?”
“Princess, the mirror was made of your own tears- how can one see through their own grief? Your skin is an unmarked buttermilk, creamy and warm, your eyes are the color of emeralds, but large and full of knowledge. Your lips are like a scarlet bow, and your cheeks two apples. You are beautiful.”
The fool turned to leave, but the princess called him back, rising from her bed.
“Fool…I’m scared to look in the mirror…what if I see what he saw?”
The fool walked up and stood boldly in front of her.
“My princess, let my eyes be your mirror. Do not worry about what he saw- he was a true fool. Use my eyes and see what I see.”
The princess took the fool’s face between her hands and tilted it down and looked into his deep grey eyes. She saw her reflection and was overwhelmed- how stupid she had been. For even though the fool’s eyes provided a clear mirror for her to see her appearance, she now saw that the fool was blind. He knew she needed to hear kind words regarding her appearance, but what he truly thought was beautiful was her heart which you don’t need eyes to see.
The fool leaned down and kissed the princess on her scarlet lips. He tilted his mouth to her ear and whispered.
“My princess, you are the loveliest creature in this world. You sparkle even in the cloudiest weather. You lead by kindness and strength. While beauty might be important to the foolish prince, it is not important to the people who trust you to rule them. Your kingdom needs you, as do I. It is sad without your light. You bring us beauty, therefore you are beautiful.”
The fool did not leave, but gave his arm to the princess, and together they emerged onto the balcony where the people applauded the return of not her emerald eyes, scarlet lips, or mocha hair. They applauded her kind eyes, her wise mind, and her joyous laugh.
And the princess turned to her fool and kissed him again, this time crying tears of joy that pooled to create a small reflection in the stones. She looked down, and filled with love, saw that she was truly beautiful.