I have been thinking about fairy tales. This is in part because I recently read a book that sort of twisted a bunch of different fairy tales into one really messed up fairy tale, and partly because I got the movie Thumbelina for the boys (yes, for the boys, and Malachi loves it, which he will not want to admit to someday, I'm sure) and we've been watching it a lot.
Most fairy tales aren't very realistic. They're not really supposed to be. There's talking wolves, and talking pigs, poisoned apples that cause the person who eats them to fall asleep, and houses made of gingerbread, among other things. However, there is always something to learn from them.
Beauty and the Beast is one of those. Though the story is fantastical, there are elements of truth in it. Beauty falls in love with Beast. In most other fairy tales the two lovers meet, fall in love almost immediately, kiss (or kiss before they meet each other in the case of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty), get married, and live happily ever after. But that's not the case in this tale. Instead, Beauty and Beast meet, she initially hates him and thinks he's ugly, and then gradually, as she knows him better and better, she falls in love with him anyway. From that point it is similar to the other stories, but what is different is that she falls in love not with any outward beauty, but with his true self, who he is on the inside. When she finally confesses her love and accepts him, he magically turns into a handsome prince.
What I like about that is it's fairly accurate to real life and real love. Initially, we pay attention to the outside, but looks only last so long. What's inside is what counts. And when you love someone you don't see them as being ugly. Instead, you begin to see them through the lense of who they really are. You see them inside out. For you, no matter how they really look, they have magically become the handsome prince.