Once upon a time, grown-ups grew out of fairytales. These days, however, arrested development is the height of fashion. It is especially prevalent among apologists for children's beauty pageants, those creepy show-trials in which very young girls are tarted-up like trashy drag queens for the amusement of adults who should know better.
"Every girl dreams of being a princess for a day," is the standard line of defence.
Tellingly, it is not the little darlings themselves who spout this royal nonsense, but their mothers. Whether the role model is Cinderella, Rapunzel or Pocahontas, the "princess-for-a-day" malarkey is also deployed by tiara-besotted mums to justify immersing their daughters in the ludicrous pomp now associated with everything from First Holy Communions to Irish dancing competitions.
Fairytales abound with symbolic messages of varying degrees of sanity. Pretty is always an outward sign of goodness, while less-than-pretty is shorthand for inner-ugliness.
However, the subtleties of the fables popularised by the Brothers Grimm seem entirely lost on the champions of pre-pubescent pageantry – the mothers dim.
If these pushy dames really want to indulge their passion for mythical archetypes, they should enter themselves in a contest that showcases their true strengths: Wicked Witch for a Day.