Whitney Kropp


Definition: “big heartedness derived from the misfortunes of others

I’ve also got my own neologism for embracing failure – ‘Cinderfreude’. My coining obviously derives from ‘schadenfreude’, which is the ‘pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others’. The ‘Cinder’ part derives from ‘Cinderella’. The classic story where someone, a Fairy Godmother, inspired by the misfortunes of Cinderella to reverse her fortunes. What I love about the story is that it doesn’t seek revenge or malice to the Wicked Stepmother and Stepsisters who did Cinders so much ill. Instead, Cinders simply rises above their malice and, quite possibly, indirectly benefited from it by triggering the intervention of the Fairy Godmother for the happy ending.  While schadenfreude is about perverse negative feelings inspired, ‘Cinderfreude’ is about the unexpected positive ones.

I came up with the word inspired by the story of Whitney Kropp of West Branch Michigan. A bunch of ugly stepsister classmates decided to play a prank on her by voting her to the prestigious honour of Homecoming Queen. They thought that Whitney’s unlikely election would spark titters, but instead it inspired an outpouring of admiration and affection for Whitney.

Much of the support was channelled through a Facebook page supporting her. The whole social media campaign has remained resolutely positive. Everyone involved has taken a stern line not to criticise those involved in the initial mischief and not to point fingers of blame. The entire tone is simply positive to transform such an ugly inspiration into a fairy tale outcome.

As with any embrace of failure, learning is often the most prominent dividend. And too with Whitney’s case, the page is not just a rallying point for support, but it has also become a collection point for education and awareness about the subject of bullying.

  • “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.” -Cinderella