I have avoided all things Disney (ok, most things…I did embrace Pooh) for four whole innocent years. It’s not that I have too much against Disney – it’s just that they are so commercialized. Once you enter the Disney world, it is hard not to find yourself surrounded by all the millions of Disney objects one can buy and to a toddler, must buy. That was my main reason for avoiding the famous cartoons…but I was also trying to avoid the whole Princess fiasco that comes with them.
And then she received a pair of sparkly pink shoes with three Disney princesses blazed on the insole. And we quickly slide down the rabbit hole…who is this and who is that? Why does that one have a red ribbon in her hair and that one have a crown?
To explain who the raven-haired lady was, we read a Snow White book that I found at the library, but as my astute toddler pointed out, this was not the same Snow White she saw on her shoe so, naturally this must not be the real Snow White. Disney must lace their images with visual crack – there was no turning back. She wanted to find the story with her Snow White in it. So, we watched the Snow White movie one day…I found out the hard way that it is a very slippery slope, this Disney Princess thing.
So with help from Gramma and the library, she learned about Snow White and Cinderella (although to Gramma’s credit she also mixed in Mary Poppins and the Wizard of Oz). Last week on the bookmobile I saw a big fat book called The Disney Princess Collection and proceeded to hover over it the entire time as to hide it from my daughter. Today I had no such luck – she got to it before I could. And so it sits, on our coffee table, with six doe-eyed ladies looking up at me from its cover.
After reading Cinderalla Ate my Daughter, I was determined never to let these sneaky beauties in to my house – the luring eyes, the suggestive poses, the body images and single goal to find her prince – yuck! But here’s the thing, I grew up on these same stories, I watched these same movies…I can probably sing every Disney song word for word. I don’t remember it locking in a certain image of what a woman should be, although maybe it did subconsciously. I also grew up in a household where women were deemed very powerful and useful and went on to go to a very powerful and useful all-women’s college. And here’s the other thing, isn’t it our goal in life to find our “prince?” Now before you jump up and down on your couch with rage, think about it in a larger context. Isn’t our goal, as human beings, to find a true love to procreate with and live happily ever after? Isn’t that built in to our DNA? While it may not be PC to wish for a prince to come and sweep you off your feet, we all yearn for a companion to share our lives with or at least part of our lives with. Every “happiness” study you find out there says that the number one determiner of lasting happiness is relationships – whether that be with your family, friends or companion.
Ok, so the Disney stories don’t encourage the Princess to build her own castle and gain her own skills, but they don’t necessarily promote these Princesses to sit back and let the Prince make all the dough while they shop online and get their nails done either.
So after watching Cinderella with my daughter the other day, singing along to all the catchy songs throughout the whole film, I have changed my opinion – I figure, as long as the mother teaches her daughter (and son for that matter) to be a strong, independent person, what is the harm in a little love story at the end?