Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Belle…. They have all been taking some heat in recent years. Suddenly it isn’t “OK” to be a Princess.
This is a topic that I think about often, and have very strong opinions on, but haven’t put it down on “paper” until now. A few weeks ago, this was brought up in the New Moms group that I am a part of. The majority of the group was pretty anti-princess, and started talking about all the negatives. I didn’t feel comfortable addressing it, and countering with my views in the group, but thought now was the time to put my feeling out there. (And I’ll be honest, I feel a bit guilty for not doing my part to defend Disney during the group discussion.)
I grew up watching all the Disney Classics on VHS and when I was really lucky, on the big screen. I fell in love with the fantasy and fairytale of it all. But now, I hear so many negative comments about Disney and “their” Princesses and I want to address those comments:
“It’s brainwashing girls to think they NEED a man” I don’t agree. While I see the point as far as nearly all of the Princesses end up finding a man and living happily ever after with them, I don’t see a problem with that. I think it shows girls that they DESERVE a “Prince Charming” Not to say that “charming” has to be a Prince. I know some girls would prefer a Princess to spend their lives with, and that is fine. The point is, everyone deserves a partner (whether a husband, wife, or even a very close friend) who will care for them, and be there for them, always.
“They are setting feminism back 50 years” Well, no. Not really. You’re talking about films like “Snow White” and “Cinderella” films based on the likes of The Brothers Grimm and old world fairy tales from hundreds of years ago. “Snow White” was released in 1937, “Cinderella,” 1950. In case you didn’t know, the feminist movement wasn’t so strong back then. But, even if it were, you’re still talking about traditional fairy tales. Disney wasn’t reinventing the wheel here. They didn’t sit down and say “Hey let’s make a film where the female character’s only purpose in life is to serve her man, and be barefoot and pregnant” If you’re going to be “mad” at someone, try those Grimm brothers!
“The stories are unrealistic” Well, why do they have to be realistic? Can’t movies just be fun? Of course people don’t turn in to frogs, Pumpkins don’t turn in to carriages, animals don’t talk. But nobody has a problem with those things happening on sesame street. It’s all in fun, it’s fantasy. That’s the purpose of Fairy Tales!
“Disney Princesses are weak, and I want my daughter to learn to be a strong woman” Have you seen “Mulan?” “Brave?” “The Princess and the Frog?” even “Beauty and the Beast?” Those girls are strong, independent, hard-working, free thinkers. Everything I want my daughter to be!
Tiana, from “The Princess and the Frog” works two jobs as a waitress, to earn money so she can buy a restaurant! She has PASSION, and DETERMINATION.
Mulan, shows great BRAVERY and HONOR when she steps in to fight the Hun, so that her elderly father doesn’t have to. She shows how important it is to respect your elders, and take care of your family.
Merida, from “Brave” is INDEPENDENT and free-spirited. She wont sit idly by and watch as men compete for her hand in marriage. She shows everyone in her clan that girls should be able to choose their partners on their own, when they are ready. (A similar theme is seen in “Pocahontas” and also in “Aladdin” where Jasmine’s love for Aladdin, leads to the Sultan changing the laws of marriage, so Jasmine can marry whomever she chooses.)
Belle, from “Beauty and the Beast” a FREE SPIRIT. She is INTELLIGENT, and outspoken and doesn’t care that others in her village think she’s “odd” She knows there is more out there in the world, and she is interested in finding it. Some would call her a Feminist. She also shows that looks aren’t everything. She chooses The Beast, over Gaston, because she knows that while Gaston may be handsome on the outside, he is ugly on the inside. It’s also important to note that the Beast had to earn Belle’s trust and love, a good lesson for all.
PASSION-DETERMINATION-BRAVERY-HONOR-INTELLIGENCE-FREE THOUGHT Aren’t these traits we ALL want to see in our daughters?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with girls (or boys, for that matter) wanting to be princesses. Just as I don’t think there is anything wrong with girls wanting to play football. We don’t always need to force adult issues on to our kids. Kids are kids. They enjoy fantasy, they enjoy fun, they enjoy the unrealistic. Let them. I don’t feel that a love of tiaras at age 6 is a representation of what they will be at age 36. No 7 year old that I know, says “I want to be a stock broker when I grow up” but we have plenty of those, and I can bet that a whole lot of them LOVED Disney Princesses as a kid. Now, of course, if your daughter is 20, and still saying that she wants to be a princess, then you may have bigger issues. (Although I’m 30 and wouldn’t mind living in a castle with talking tea pot and candlestick servants….)
We’re taking Avery to Disney World this December. She already has 4 princess dresses and she looks beautiful in all of them. She looks just as beautiful in her Red Sox jersey. Being a fan of Disney princesses is not going to define her as a person. I think, as her mother, that I am going to be the one to guide her. Disney is just for fun (Though I do think there are some themes in their programming that I WANT her to learn from) But, Disney won’t be raising Avery, Dave and I will be raising Avery. She will see me embracing all things “sparkly” but also playing in the dirt. Maybe at the same time! (I see nothing wrong with making mud pies while wearing a tutu!) The thing is, I will let her choose her path. If she decides that the princess stuff isn’t for her, I will be a bit sad (because then I’ll have no excuse to buy the stuff for myself) but I’ll be perfectly fine with HER decision. I won’t tell her “You need to wear pink, and cover yourself in glitter, and wear princess dresses!” but I also wont say, “NO! Disney is bad, it represents the WRONG kind of woman, and you’re going to be the kind of woman I tell you to be!”
Let kids be kids, let them find their own path. And stop making Disney the villain!
If there is one thing that I hope we can ALL Learn from Disney it’s this:
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.
Follow your dreams!
And I leave you with this new promo from Disney…. try not to cry, and then go hug YOUR Princess!