Who decided that Disney movies were responsible for creating girls dreams, aspirations and identities?
So why all the hating on princess movies? A quick spin around this interweb dealio will find thousands of straight up weirdos espousing the view that Frozen is the first healthy princess movie (Same rhetoric occured when Brave came out to some degree but this time it is pervasive like the internet, radio, morning news pervasive).
Disclaimer:I haven’t seen Frozen. I know right. I live under a rock. However my Kindergarten girls perform what I am certain must be the entirety of the film during playtime everyday, I judged a talent show with 4 choreographed “Let it Go” song routines and I’ve read/heard/ seen clips all the over the place.
None of this matters though because my issue with these assertions is three fold.
1. I dispute Disney princesses are, overall, helpless or poor role models.
There are technically 11 in the franchise but here is a taste of some of their role model worthy actions or character traits:
Belle – My personal favorite, loves books, sacrifices her own freedom, safety and happiness for her father, turns down the town hottie and slowly falls in love with a hideous beast because of the man he is inside. Really? How is she a poor role model? This girl is educated, selfless, brave and deep.
Fa Mulan- She is a commoner, she sacrifices herself for her father, she saves her country, becomes a respected military leader…shall I go on?
Ariel- She saves Eric first, she is a curious and brave (if a little reckless) girl. Yes she “gives up” her mermaidness to be with her prince but I look at this a little like a girl disappointing her parents by dropping out of Yale to go work as an artist, does it make practical sense? No, but it seems to me her dream was always to be on land and it was her parents dream for her to stay a mermaid. She was true to herself and her heart.
Cinderella – Are you kidding, yeah the happy ending is awesome and all but she kind of deserves it. Talk about humility! I would have likely spit in stepmothers soup is all i’m saying. The idea that patience and right behavior eventually may yield good results isn’t so bad if you ask me.
Pocahantas – (The butchering of actual history aside). She saves John Smith, eventually marries a commoner and stands up for things she believes in.
2. I dispute it is Disney or any other companies job to create a healthy self image, self esteem, realistic expectations of beauty or any other of the issues people wah wah wah about.
Seriously, if your child’s self worth is being defined by dolls, movies, tv or any other media source you are failing at your job. I can’t sugar coat it because it’s a simple matter of fact. You control what she sees and does and also you should be such a shaping influence in her daily life that these princesses having little room for impact. If you are worried then balance them out with some female olympians or Joan of Arc or something but be forewarned you will find them all lacking somewhere. The best woman for the job is you.
3. I find it strange we have all this hubbub over princess and yet nary a peep about boys role models.
Because Mutant Ninja Turtles, Superman, Spiderman, Gi Joe, or Buzz Lightyear are super realistic role models?
In closing, can we back off on the princessery and recognize that YOU are responsible for what your daughter takes away from these toys and movies? As for me, I hope my daughter will be bright enough to distinguish fantasy from reality and still take away some of the positive messages these princesses carry but I won’t leave it to chance instead I will engage her and open a dialogue so that I can guide her ideas.