Everybody knows the fairy story of Cinderella, but you may not be aware that it was originally based on a much darker and more grotesque German folktale called Ash-Fool (Aschenputtel).
In the popular version of the tale, Cinderella lives with her wicked stepmother and two ugly stepsisters. They treat her like a slave and force her to wear rags. Cinderella has a fairy godmother who creates a dress, coach, and footmen for her, so she can go to the ball. The prince falls in love with her, but at midnight she has to run away, leaving her glass slipper behind. The prince travels around the country looking for the girl who fits the shoe, and when he finds Cinderella, he marries her and they live happily ever after.
In the original version of the tale, there’s no fairy godmother and no pumpkin coach, just some pigeons who help Cinderella. The prince lays a sticky tar trap for her, which is how she loses her shoe.
When the prince comes, the stepsisters cut off parts of their feet (their toes and their heels) in a desperate attempt to fit into the slipper.
“With her mother standing by, the older one took the shoe into her bedroom to try it on. She could not get her big toe into it, for the shoe was too small for her. Then her mother gave her a knife and said, “Cut off your toe. When you are queen you will no longer have to go on foot.” The girl cut off her toe, forced her foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain, and went out to the prince.”
The prince takes one look at their bloody, mutilated feet and decides neither of them are the girl he is looking for. Eventually, he manages to track down Cinderella. Her foot fits the slipper and he marries her. After the wedding, two pigeons attack the stepsisters and peck out their eyes.
“When the bridal couple walked into the church, the older sister walked on their right side and the younger on their left side, and the pigeons pecked out one eye from each of them. Afterwards, as they came out of the church, the older one was on the left side, and the younger one on the right side, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye from each of them. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.”