Griselle Damgaard is the daughter of The Ugly Duckling, the protagonist of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name.
In theory, fulfilling her destiny would be the easiest way to have her peers eventually realize that she's beautiful as she Is, vitiligo and all. That said, while the tale is well-known and ends happily at that, it's not the most luxurious given the ridicule and trials she has to go through. With a a sharp tongue and an even sharper mind Griselle is motivated for bigger and better things, ballet in particular, and is determined to pursue dance while feeling comfortable in her skin.
It's not the easiest task, however; she's been reminded all too often that she stands out in a uniform corps de ballet. But perhaps, in her case, it's not bad to be the odd swan out. Ever since Legacy Day, Griselle has her reasons to doubt that waiting for her Happily Ever After is the de-facto way to come to terms with a fate and condition that she has no control over.
Critical and astute, Griselle is a hard-boiled skeptic and a closed-set book who's prone to judging others – whether warranted or not – before they get the chance to glance at her cover. A tad bit ironic, one might think for a destiny such as hers, but it's hard to blame her when one gives it a second thought; after all what is the point of giving others a chance when many of her classmates won't give her the time of day?
With a future of abuse and ridicule in the midst (and for what? Others fawning over her after completing the adolescent stage of a swan's life cycle?), the girl may as well be, as she puts it, a "good judge of character" around those who may take her for a doormat at first glance. Though not intentionally malicious without being provoked, her wary outlook ensures that she, more often than not, assumes the worst in others.
Prim, svelte, occasionally brooding; frankly, the future swan comes off as refined yet irritable. Yet in spite of her finesse and straight-laced demeanor paired with a vigilant resistance towards the ever present ugly-label. It must be said that Griselle was raised with a perfectionist mindset due to the emotional neglect of a concerned yet pressure-mongering father. She has the self-esteem of a donkey-skinned maid (read: as bare as a desert) alongside her quickness to fault others, and it can even be said that she's criticizes herself more sharply than she ever would others.
Nonetheless, between being the latest in line in a cycle of emotionally neglectful upbringings and a family history of depression, the distance she maintains with the majority of her peers is for the sake of protecting what little she has for self-worth, genuine confidence in her abilities, and the drive to carry on through the ups and downs in her life.
But Griselle is not necessarily charmless, nor completely lacking in approachability. Her wall of doubt may be "ugly" so to speak, and though she keeps her inner turmoil under a shell that rarely cracks, she is a metaphorical egg that lies a loyal, diligent swan with a natural sense of grace and forthright. For one thing, the swan to-be's analytical, scrutinizing nature has its perks: she isn't easily swayed by false flattery, manipulative tactics almost never seem to pass her ever present bullshit-o-meter, and she can even see the good in those in a sharply insightful manner when giving someone the time of day. Perhaps even enough to earn her loyalties – fellow misfits tend to be her weakness of hers, in terms of hidden depths.
Griselle has dealt with a number of bullies and naysayers doubting her potential, and despite her crumbling motivation and lack of inward self-assurance, she is downright hellbent on proving her worth to others. Overall, this so-called ugly duckling is the last chick that you'd want to take a crack at.
In her default form, Griselle stands taller than average, with a lean dancer's build and notably strong legs. Not terribly curvaceous, her torso is straight and she bears shoulders slightly broader than her hips. She has a pointed chin with high cheekbones, and expressive dark brown eyes. Her hair, having the texture of a cygnet's thick, soft down feathers, is neatly twisted in gray locs that are 2-3 inches past shoulder length. Griselle wears prescription glasses for her mild near-nearsightedness, and though her usual rectangular specs are light teal in color, they're frameless along the top border.
While born with a deep, rosy brown complexion, her skin is both rich in melanin and lacking in pigmentation as a result of her vitiligo. Large sections of of pale, pinkish skin appear almost symmetrically along her forearms/hands, lower calves and feet, shins, ears, neck, eye areas, mouth, among other places. Not limited to makeup and sunscreen for her patches, she ensures that she keeps herself physically fit, well-groomed, and her overall appearance is nothing short of presentable.
Her color scheme consists of greys, shades of teal, deep violets/indigo. white, soft blues, and various arrays of earth tones.
Before the events of Way Too Wonderland, Griselle would transform into a small fluffy gray bird when using her Swan Maiden robe (a Thronecoming gift from her father). Though absolutely adorable (albeit odd, for those who'd mistake a baby swan for a duckling), this leaves poor Grisey completely underdeveloped for flight. While capable of swimming in this form, she was extremely apprehensive as a result of being new to shapeshifting.
As of the aforementioned Wonderlandian special, Gris's original form has aged up from cygnet to an adolescent swan with matured yet mostly gray feathering and a pair of squared glasses. Some of her white, adult down/feathering resembles the vitiligo around her face, but her beak and feet still have dark coloring. As someone with her legacy, Griselle still refuses to learn how to swim in bird form due to feelings of anxiety and vulnerability as a swan (even as a rebel, the amount of time in her story spent in the wintertime terrifies her), and she is only just (barely) starting to learn how to fly.
Abilities, Hobbies, and Interests
Magic Touch: The Balancing Act
When Griselle says that she "holds herself well" and is "limber on (her) feet". she means it. In fact, Griselle's litheness and near-perfect balance is something that has been passed down through many generational legacies:
As pointed, the swan to-be's Magic Touch is, quite literally, her uncanny amount of grace, balance, and overall supernatural agility. Alongside her love for select preforming arts, Griselle loves to show off her innate talent in various ways, including but not limited to: balancing across walls and suspended rope, leaping from one raised pole/stake to another, pulling either two off en pointe (though rarely, as pointe shoes are pricey), preforming stunts on the highest high diving board in public pools, and ditto while on high cliffs/ledges above open bodies of water.
Taking lessons since she was eight, Griselle has always loved to dance – classical ballet preferred, though she's dabbled in contemporary/modern dance as of late. Maternal ties to the story of Swan Lake (see: Family section) fueled her passion, but what once was a hobby is now something she considers perusing as a career path. Without destiny in the way, Grisey plans on Ever After's various dance schools once she's able to graduate.
Griselle is as exceptional at swimming as she is in ballet. That said, she doesn't show nearly as much interest in it professionally as her father (who happened to make a career out of his love for aquatic sports). But if Soccer Moms exist, then the Ugly Duckling turned Beautiful Swan that came before her is definitely an Aquatic Sports Dad, as she's taken various swimming courses in childhood and had joined a plethora of swimming programs at Ever After High. Post-Way Too Wonderland, however, she's quit all except for the school's official swim team.
In a semi-recent effort to flip selfie-hating misogynists the bird, Griselle has taken to photoblogging more seriously – especially on a certain popular hub. She's gotten floods of followers ever since she began posting makeup tutorials for vitiligo skin, and has also garnered notable attention for taking increasingly creative selfies involving the use of her Magic Touch. Her growing follower count may not be as large as Apple's, but she's been gaining a steady yet growing fanbase for her nigh-aesthetic poses/stunts and cosmetic how-to's.
Not An Actual Hobby But a Related Paragraph for Angst™
At times, part of Griselle wonders if her pursuits and passions are too narrow. Though she often aims to be an overachiever with the help of her Magic Touch (and in her schoolwork, depleting spoons aside she's no slouch), she has never considered herself to be good at much of anything beyond swimming and dance. And at being pretty, of course – as shallow as it seems, and insecurities aside, she isn't one to lie about her looks. Her free time was limited as a child due to the hours she put in dance class, and with past pressure from her dad pushing her into aquatic sports, she didn't have time to pursue other hobbies. Ever so aware of this, her perfectionist mentality weighs down on her like a weight that tells her that she'll never accomplish much in life as a non-dancer.
Fairy Tale: The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling is about a cygnet who, by the pond near a farmstead, was the last to hatch inside of the nest of a mother duck. His gray down feathers, abnormal size by duckling standards, and not duck-like appearance result in others subjecting him to bullying, physical, emotional abuse in the barnyard he lived in. The other poultry, the girl who fed them, and even his mother and siblings abhorred him for his so-called ugliness. Disheartened, he left the place he called home.
Throughout his time in the wilderness, the so-called Ugly Duckling received a somewhat lesser amount of scorn for his looks. When he's shown some kindness by a pair of goslings, they're shot dead by hunters. He evaded them and their hunting dogs, but he dejectedly assumed that they only spared him because of his appearance. Then at nighttime he came across a small, rundown house owned by an old lady with poor vision. She mistook him for a female duck and thought he'd lay eggs, as did the snippy tomcat and uppity hen that lived with her. The two constantly put him down for never laying the eggs, and found his longing for freedom to swim outside the house again to be a ridiculous fancy. Feeling unwelcome, he finally left.
During autumn, he saw a flock of swans flying south for the winter. He admired their beauty and longed to be just as beautiful as them. Winter came he was saved by a man who spotted him trapped under the icy pond he's swam in, but growing frightened by the children (among other things) in the house, he fled in a panic. He spent the rest of his winter in hunger and misery.
When spring arrived, he saw and confronted another flock of swans. Despondent, he asked them to put an end to his misery. They welcomed him as one of their own, however, and was shocked to see his reflection in the water: a fully grown, well-adjusted swan. He accepted his swan lineage and was thankful for his tribulations, as he better appreciated his appearance than he could as someone raised among swans from the start.
How Griselle Ties Into It
Griselle's mother is Taiwo Ako, the twin sister of one of twelve Swan Maidens of Swan Lake, Kehinde Ako. While her sister was cursed by Rothbart, Taiwo inherited a feathery robe from her own mother, taking part of the Andersen tale. She was one of the swans that Avon – the Ugly Duckling before Griselle – admired during the fall season, and met Avon with the others in the springtime. Out of the others, she in particular took a liking to him, having felt like an "ugly duckling" herself due to not inheriting a more prestigious destiny. Taiwo considered him a handsome man in both swan and human appearance, but with time she fell in love with him as a person.
The original Ugly Duckling descend from Swan Maidens without Swan Lake ties, and the Daamgard swans are the barnyard workers who own the farmstead where Griselle had lived most of her life. Between Avon becoming a Faelympic gold competitive swimmer and Taiwo working as a dance instructor, the two married and brought a daughter to the world, a beautiful girl christened Griselle Christina Damgaard. Later, when Griselle turned six, her parents made the decision to adopt the child of another swan maiden from Swan Lake. His name is Saaras, and he was abandoned by his biological parents when his mother gave birth to a baby girl.
While Avon was grateful for his "Happily" Ever After, the short-lived epiphany of his exceptional beauty never fixed his damaged self-worth. As a parent he was a pushover who'd enable his daughter's bullies, and feared that if she was anything short of being subservient around bullies, Griselle's would suffer even more abuse than the story already entails. Along with this, Avon was never prepared to help Saaras cope with the trauma he suffered from bullying at the orphanage run by the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe.
All of that built up over the years and had a damaging effect on his and Taiwo's marriage. The two divorced during Griselle's current sophomore year, and currently Taiwo is looking for a place for her kids, Tahir – Saaras's divorcee biological dad and Tai's current fiancé, and Hamsa Kori, Saara's biological sister and Griselle's to-be step-sister.
- The Ugly Duckling itself has parallels to Andersen's own life. He was tall as a teenager, auditioned as a ballet dancer, and was abused and isolated by students and teachers alike during his schooling at Helsingor, Zealand (source); though Griselle is more successful on stage than he was, she's a 5"10 dance student and was a victim of bullying throughout primary school.
- She's diagnosed with Persistent Depressive Disorder (dysthymia) with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as an added specifier. Andersen is sometimes cited as having a mood disorder himself (most often depression and bipolar disorder), and her specifier is a nod to how the Ugly Duckling was at his most miserable during the wintertime.
- Griselle also has cryophobia/pagophobia (fear of ice), particularly frozen bodies of water. This is in reference to the Ugly Duckling being trapped under a pond that had frozen over during winter.
Who knows how she survived the Epic Winter special tbh.
- Griselle also has cryophobia/pagophobia (fear of ice), particularly frozen bodies of water. This is in reference to the Ugly Duckling being trapped under a pond that had frozen over during winter.
- Griselle tends to be a pessimist (to say the least), spawning from past treatment by other students and her father's dismissive stance on student-perpetuated abuse. While more timid than bitter, the Ugly Duckling didn't look on the bright side of things for most of the story as a result of his mistreatment. Her bio dad incidentally shows mannerisms similar to that of the mother duck, caring for her on a superficial level while not tending to her personal well being.
- tl;dr au where Andersen is a salty biracial (kind-of-sort-of I mean she's only 1/4th anglo-Danish) swon girl who knows better than to write fairytales that star herself as an author avatar.
Avon Damgaard, the "Ugly Duckling"
Avon's growing apprehension towards the family legacy and refusal to acknowledge his own trauma from living out his story resulted in him pressuring Griselle to be the best successor she could be, teaching her humility and passiveness when it came to being victim to the wrongdoings of others. Basically, she was conditioned from infancy to be a doormat.
"You should turn the other cheek," he'd often say, ignoring her frustration over nasty fallouts between spiteful duckling cousins at forced "family" reunions. "Try not to be so loud, maybe they'll leave you alone next time," he'd drone on, wading through his daughter's tears after yet another rough day of schoolyard taunts. He never once bothered to alert her teachers, believing it was best to lower her expectations before the day of her destiny.
Well, they were lowered alright. As Griselle grew into the shell of adolescence, she'd grown fed up with constantly excusing per peers of their malevolent actions. And so, to her ex-father's chagrin, she began to stand up for herself. For better of for worse. Curt and tight-lipped around his presence these days, the Daamgard girl has yet to see Avon since the divorce.
Obvously, Griselle is much closer to her mother, and not necessarily because of her Taiwo's indirect ties to Swan Lake. Like any mother swan who protects her fledglings, the woman is as firm as she is beautiful.
Unlike Avon, the former Mrs. Damgaard was (and still is) a proactive influence when it comes to Griselee and Saaras's interpersonal troubles, and will not let destiny laws and a failing System take a toll on her daughter and child's mental health. Her genuine concern for Grisey and Saar's well being would clash with Avon's apathy to the point of marital strain, hence their current divorce. Her story may be Danish (as is the biracial Afro-Danish Avon), but Griselle strongly associates with her mother's Yoruba roots despite living under her father's household.
Initially skeptical about Saara's bio dad in the picture, Griselle has gradually warmed up to him and respects that he's making a genuine effort to be in her sibling's life again. It's odd, moving away from the rustic household she once knew, but in the end she knows that change is for the better.
When Griselle learned of her parents' intended adoption, she was less than enthused. When "Swan Lake" was mentioned while the papers were being signed, she was enthralled. When it turned out that Saaras, having a.) lived at the orphanage run by the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe, and b.) wanted nothing to with his heritage after being targeted by orphans for being the dmab child of a swan maiden, Griselle was, quite frankly, less than enthused again.
How the two of them aren't dead via constantly butting heads is a mystery. But nonetheless, despite all the times Grisey has called him a lazy thorn-prick, and no matter how many instances where Saaras has referred to her as a raging witch, they're siblings through and through. They may belittle each other but they sure as hex (for the most part) won't let others do the same.
Griselle actually met Hamsa in Dance Class-is before their parents met. Though a little off-put by the Swan Maiden's energy, the two in time grew to be close yet unlikely friends whose careful balance between optimism and pessimism evened each other out. Currently, the two of them are excited to become sisters.
As can be assumed, Griselle's friendship circle isn't particularly big. She has plenty of acquaintances as her story is famous, but with some exceptions, She's not terribly close to the majority of the student body.
The eldest daughter of the eldest Dancing Princess, came across Grisey en pointe one day while checking inside the school's dance studio. Though suspicious at first of Pia's positive air and feedback, the princess's likable personality helped to chip at her shell. The two of them formed an unlikely yet ongoing friendship, the two of them sharing a passion for dance.
She met Ava during practice, as her and were brother were prepping music for upcoming dance performances. Although Grisey's uptight demeanor clashes with her laid-back attitude, they've been able to bond via love for the stage and shared athletic agility.
Though Airy isn't exactly considered one of her friends, the two are acquaintances with a roughly mutual respect for each other. That being said, a few incidents involving the blond(e)'s affinity with fire and bunsen burners has made Griselle ever so slightly wary of the green-eyed teen.
Being a headstrong yet compassionate soul, the future tin girl shooed off Griselle's duckling cousins mid taunt. Despite helping out she initially brushed her off, assuming Cora was helping out of pity. Yet the tin man's daughter kept turning up, and eventually Grisy was convinced otherwise. Though the two exchange in friendly banter from time to time neither see each other as particularly close, seeing each other as "school friends" or friendly acquaintances who sometimes get into vitrolic spats.
Steamy-beligerent tension, probably ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
For her animal companion in terms of book canon, Griselle happened upon a a white-faced whistling duck about the age of a fledgling, who is yellow with dark brown markings, and sports a black beak and legs. She was highly unamused by the irony at first, but didn't have the heart to abandon it (not that she could anyway) and the duckling grew on her with surprising quickness. She named it Ayo (ah-yo), meaning joy in Yoruba.
As the Damgaard household runs a farmstead (the same one featured in The Ugly Duckling – ownership is given to a regular farmer throughout the duration of the story, then restored back to the Damgaards after The End), she used to take care of the livestock and poultry before the divorce. The the poultry in question weren't exactly fond of her anyway, as though startlingly aware of her legacy. Nonetheless her favorite animal there is her pygmy goat named Sven (young man/warrior in Danish/Old Norse). With a bit of convincing and careful arrangements, the male kid resides in the boarding school's stalls while her mother searches for a home and property that can support a small pet goat.
The first thing one will notice about Griselle's casual wear is her cloak. Medium-dark gray, made of a fleece-like material, and embedded with/cut into the shape of a wing-like print. Like a peacoat it fastens around her neck with four lavender buttons, and kept further in place by a thin, medium blue shank to the middle of her chest. What's seen of her dress is a pleated teal-green skirt with deep violet trimming, and a short layer of netting draping from the sleeves of her top as well as over the skirt in question. While the rest of her top remains concealed, its design has an early Victorian influence.
She wears fingerless, mid-length green gloves over her primarily pale forearms, and gray legwarmers around her ankles and calves. The heels and soles of her shoes take the shape of teal-green pond reeds and leaves, with blue triangular straps and pointed violet toe boxes. Dark blue talon-like spikes peak from the left and right sides, making her footwear appear webbed.
To complete the look, she dawns matching green lipstick and attaches two cattail pins to her cloak above her heart.
Griselle wears her father's feathery swan cloak, the one he once wore in order to transform into a cygnet and mature into a beautiful adult swan. It's white in color with hints of gray, and contains three layers: long primary feathers that reach near the ground, a set of above knee-length feathering, and a lining of protruding down that flares outwards in an almost collar-like fashion. Two extra feathers, seemingly out of place, flare diagonally downwards over her shoulders, indicating where to find the robe's hidden sleeves were she to use it to shapeshift into a swan. A metallic chain keeps the garment fastened around her sides and back.
Her dress has a halter top with a red and black beaded empire waist. Black netting overlaps between her neck and bust below the red and black upper neckline.Three long black feathers dangle from the red middlemost beading and sewn along the middle of the lower neckline is a short dark down feather. The over-skirt of her dress is a translucent medium gray dappled in shimmering sparkles, which overlaps a a solid dual-toned silvery crimson underskirt. Fishnet tights strap over Griselle's legs, her footwear a simple pair of wedged, black and dark gray heels with a subtle feather design lining the sides. To finish the look, she wears elegant black gloves with red lining and dons a netted hair piece with two dark gray feathers.
A pair of black and white cat-eyed glasses replace her usual specs, not unlike the dark feathering around the face of a mute swan. While normally left with her vitiligo untouched, Griselle wears concealer over where her condition would be present on her face (for in-her-creator's-canon reasons, she definitely doesn't cover it up willingly). Her gray dreadlocks are partially streaked in white dye, and are meticulously parted to her left and elegantly curled for the occasion.
Because the following outfits have yet to be announced, everything between her Getting Fairest attire, Thronecoming gown, and the many other eah lines yet mentioned shall be filled out via musical 80s interlude:
we're no strangers to love
you know the rules and so do I
a full commitment's what I'm thinking of
you wouldn't get this from any other guy
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
gotta make you understand
never gonna give you up
never gonna let you down
never gonna run around and desert you
never gonna make you cry
never gonna say goodbye
never gonna tell a lie and hurt you ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
- Griselle was born on July 11th, making her a Cancer.
- Griselle's name is a variant of Griselda, which can either mean 'dark/gray maiden warrior', 'dark battle', or 'stone' depending on the interpretation of its etymology.
- Damgaard is a Danish surname meaning 'the farmstead by the pond'. The Ugly Duckling begins in such a place, as he was hatched near a pond by a farmstead.
- The name Avon is a reference to the Shakespeare's nickname "the Swan of Avon". As for Taiwo, her name is traditionally given to the first twin born in Yoruba culture. Because the second-born twin (Kehinde) is considered the eldest (viewed as wise and careful while the first-born is more adventurous for leaving the womb before them), her mother's sister inherited the swan maiden role in Swan Lake from Griselle's maternal grandmother. Regarding her maiden name, Ako (or Àkọ̀), it's the Yoruba form of swan.
- The swan maiden robe she wore on Legacy Day is the one that her father wore during his story.
- Saaras, Griselle's brother, is owned by leavesofthree on deviantart, and is to be drawn by hers truly. I have her permission to mention him on the wikia.
- For those familiar with Cynthea Mallard, Jade Encrusted Bugs, has revised her character here. Her name has been changed, the page title has been exceptionally altered, and the rest of her page has been reworked entirely.