“The Frog King” Multimodal Essay

Image 1 Frog and Princess

My entire life I have been guided to make the perfect first impression. When meeting past boyfriend’s families, I was told to act perfect, sit perfect, smile, give all the answers they want to hear. When interviewing for a job you need to, dress nice, do your hair, and use sophisticated words. Society has a high expectation of perfection and personal image. Let’s be real though, nobody is perfect and often we judge people without getting to know them first. In an article I once read called, “5 Reasons Why We Need to Stop Judging People on First Impressions” by Andrea Arrizza, she discussed how “It goes without saying that first impressions are limiting in many ways. Sure, we can get either a positive or negative vibe about a person, but more often than not, it really limits our ability to get to know someone beyond a superficial level.” We often think we know someone because of the way they present themselves or how we see what they physically look like at the time.

In the story, “The Frog King,” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the princess, the beautiful youngest daughter of the king, needs the help of a frog to return her golden ball. Once breaking the promise proposed by the frog “to love and accept me as a companion,” in exchange for the ball, the frog follows her to the castle. When the king demands she keep her promise, “You should not despise someone who has helped you in time of need,” the angry princess only sees the prince for who he is after she throws him at the wall, a handsome prince. When I first read the short story “The Frog King,” I thought it was about how beauty isn’t always on the outside, but then I thought about how first impressions are made and realized that maybe the story is really about how we judge a person’s character by a first impression. I am curious to know if the princess had not seen the frog when he offered to trade his help, but a beautiful human prince, the princess may have been politer and more eager to exchange help to one another.

Society seems to have made a large impact on the importance of a first impression.

What you see is not always the reality of it. We have been made to believe that we need to use a first impression to make a judgement on who a person is. It seems to be hard-wired into our brain to automatically make these judgements. I catch myself often making these judgements of first impressions on people I interact with or see on a daily basis. It sometimes is as simple as walking into the supermarket at 7am and seeing a woman dressed in sweats, her hair greasy, and the look of exhaustion. My first impression is she is a very unkept person who doesn’t care about herself or possibly her hygiene either. When I take a step back and process what I saw, maybe that women has just left the gym and is running to the store while on the way home to clean up before she heads out to her next CEO meeting. I don’t know a single thing about this person except for what my mind has created based off my first impression. Similar to how I made judgement on the woman, when the frog appears in the fairy tale, the princess sees nothing but a disgusting frog. “When she looked around to see where the voice was coming from and saw a frog, who had stuck his thick, ugly head out of the water.” She is already judging the frog only based off of what she physically sees. Just like me, she knows nothing more than her first impression.

When reading how the princess judged the frog from her first impression, it reminded me of how in the field I work for, judgment is commonly passed. Seven years ago, I stated working in human services. I had met and seen many disabled people before but didn’t think or for that matter, know much about them. A particular person I cared for came to my mind after reading this fairy tale. He was about 60, wheelchair bound, and had down syndrome. He was non-verbal, or so we thought, and new to the organization. We often made decisions for him because he didn’t express his needs. When I saw him, I saw someone that just sat there, was assisted with daily needs, and threw a couple moans and groans out but never spoke a sentence. The first few weeks we spend time evaluating a person’s skills and determine how much assistance they need. It’s odd to think that maybe we are not evaluating a person at all, we are actually judging them by first impressions instead. One day he looked so lonely, so after assisting him to his room and into bed, I told him I was going to stay for a while and organize his closet for him. I started to fold his pants and put them on a shelf. I thought I was becoming delusional because a few seconds later I heard, “I like my pants hung up.” He spoke in a soft quiet tone, yet when those words came, I could feel the firm command he was giving me.

When the princess threw the frog against the wall and finally discovered what beauty the frog had on the inside, it reminded me of how I made my first impression on the man I had assisted. “But when he fell down, he was not a frog, but a prince with beautiful friendly eyes. And he was now, according to her father’s will, her dear companion and husband.” The princess saw who the frog truly was, a handsome prince and not just an ugly frog. When I first met this man, I saw a person who couldn’t do anything for himself. He could not speak or make decisions. When I took the time to get to know and spend time with him, I learned just like the princess did that there is more to a person than what the eye sees at first. When he spoke to me, I realized this is a man who can make decisions, express what he needs and isn’t just a non-verbal person that cannot do anything for themselves.

I learned a very important lesson that day. A person should never be judged based off of what is first seen, but time should be given to get to know someone to see the true beauty inside. What a beautiful soul that man had once I started chatting with him, and I may have never had the chance to see it if it wasn’t for the time I decided to give him that day while organizing his closet. Although the princess wasn’t completely willing to take the frog in as her companion, when she did, she was able to break the spell and reveal what was hidden on the inside, the handsome prince. She too got to see past her first impression of him. If we could take the time to break the spell society has on us and see past first impressions and judgements, we too may see how beautiful this world can be.

Sources:

Arrizza, A. (2014, July 24). 5 Reasons Why We Need to Stop Judging People on First Impressions.Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.elitedaily.com/life/culture/five-reasons-first-impressions-arent-always-reliable-factor/658694

Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (2005, October 17). The Frog King or Iron Heinrich. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm001.html

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