Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In defense of Disney princesses

Recently over at Danielle Bean's has been a discussion on princesses. I read some of the comments, and generally agreed with the idea of limiting a girl's exposure (boys kind of self-limit their exposure to princesses). The objections were varied and some were conflicting--like the recent Disney princesses are more independent young feminists and they didn't like that, where others didn't like the helpless portrayal of the older ones. I'll just come clean and admit I'm a sucker for a good classic.
Cinderella has been a fairy tale for centuries, I think. Generations at least. Let's not get ourselves into a snit about a Grand Example of Finding a Prince Charming to Take Me Away From All This, shall we? If Cinderella is your daughter's only example of an adult woman, where have YOU been?
Beauty and the Beast is my favorite, primarily because it's originally French. I realize it's been altered in that the original doesn't have a character remotely like Gaston, but it does have a happy ending. "True love sees beyond appearances" and "it's tough to make friends when you're a snot" are values I can live with.
I used to object to Aladdin until I watched it again recently. Keeping one's promises is important, even if it makes your life harder. True love comes out of honesty instead of deception. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. See previous paragraph.
Sleeping Beauty is our recent favorite. Prince Philip is given a Shield of Virtue and a Sword of Truth to fight what Maleficent herself says are the powers of Hell.
I know one objection is the wardrobe of the princesses and have heard tell of digital alteration to increase their voluptuousness, but I wonder. Is that adults projecting onto the kids' stories? I mean, Dale likes Belle because she wears a yellow dress (the same color as Scoop), not because he thinks she's falling out of it. And how much of that alleged alteration is a reflection of our own creeping waistlines in 21st century America?
I recall one of the objections is how little the prince and princess actually know each other before they're declared "in love." Well, I just read Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and some of them got proposals with less conversation than Cinderella and Prince Charming. And that's literature.

Don't take this defense as universal. I won't let The Jungle Book into the house until my kids have read the original Kipling, that's for sure. And let's not discuss the violations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I get too upset.
And the merchandising machine is obscene and ubiquitous. But controllable.
I wonder how much furor is justified and how much is imagined. When Rachel likes her nightgown and calls herself a princess when she's wearing it, is that a bad thing? I don't think so.


At 6:19 AM, Blogger IR said...

Hmmmm--food for thought. I especially like your take on "where have you been" when a little girl over identifies with princesses as paradigm.

Over time, and experience with little girls (3), I'v noticed that the problem isn't the kid identifying with princesses--it's parents, (usualy dad) identifying the kid as a princess, and makeing it his paradigm in raising her.

I do have problems with Disney, but we need to keep it real, and in proportion!

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Milehimama said...

I don't have a problem with Disney princesses in general. I do hate the commercialism involved - there are Princess fruit snacks, Princess cereal, Princess on the waffles.
The one princess I really detest is Ariel. Aside from the fact she wears a seashell bra, the story goes:
She rebels and disobeys Daddy.
She seeks out a witch.
The crab Daddy entrusted his daughter's safety to decides her personal happiness is way more important than safety or obeying the rules. (Remember the line, "...and you'll be miserable for the rest of your life. Okay.")
She ends up getting her way, anyway. (after learning her lesson? Not really.)
Daddy feels guilty that he didn't listen to her and realize she was growing up, so he gives her legs, since she gave him puppy dog eyes and all.
Yeah. Great role model.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Heather said...

That's the Disney merchandising machine--EVERYTHING can be princesses. That's where parents have to be parents and say NO. I've read your blog--your kids know that word, as do mine.
About Ariel--they "fall in love" and don't even talk. Um... no. At least the others can communicate.

Ariel bugs me because of the vast difference between it and the original source material. I'm geeky enough to own the Andersen fairy tale book. Okay, it's in French, but I've read it. And she doesn't live happily ever after with the prince.

Needless to say, that won't be under the tree this Christmas.


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