My girls are nine and ten now. We live in Central Florida, and have had season passes to Disney over two different years. I adore Walt, and I really enjoy the parks, although I have to admit that I wonder what the man would say about what his dream has been made into today. Of course, being close to the parks, and even knowing some former Disney princesses, we have let our daughters indulge in the stories, and be enamored with the princesses themselves. We have let them watch the movies over and over again. I went even further than the Disney princesses and let my daughters watch the Barbie movies for a while. Before I had children this is something that I would have been adamant that I would never let happen. You have your kids though, and everything gets really hard. Raising kids is one of the most challenging things in the world, and it can make us complacent as parents. I remember watching the first Barbie movie that I relented and let my daughters have and thinking, “well, this isn’t really too bad, the character is kind, and not too submissive…”
I regret it to a degree now. I have one daughter who has always been very non-gender swayed, so to speak. She was never too crazy about dolls, never into pink (red has always been her favorite color), she has always loved art, and didn’t really care about cars, or dragons, or space, like my son does. My youngest daughter however, has always been into all of the pink, and the frilly, and the glitter. I wonder how much of an effect the princess exposure has had on her, well actually on both of them. It’s complicated; I can’t go back now and change what has already happened. My oldest daughter has no interest in princesses at this point, but my youngest is still crazy about them. I can comfort myself with the fact that I was always present when they were watching the films, so I always knew what they were seeing, and I am not one to keep opinion to myself when I have a problem with a character’s behavior. I have always taught my daughters to be strong and to stand up for themselves. They are both competitive; my youngest is no shrinking violet…I guess that my angst at this point is coming from the fact that I think she is old enough now to start having a problem with princesses, and she is not.
So, it is my problem. I swear, I saw a picture that a friend of a friend had posted on Facebook the other day; it was a picture at the parks of a kid posing with the two princesses from the new movie Frozen. I haven’t seen it, all of my friends say it was great and my kids…even my son…all loved it. I saw that picture though, and I seriously just wanted to knock that poufy blonde wig off of the actor’s head and tell her to behave like a real woman. I don’t even know where the impulse came from. I am a very nice person, and cannot ever imagine myself attacking an actor who was simply trying to play a character. It really is beginning to bug me though. I have a very strong belief that these sweety-peety characters are doing a lot of damage to us as women. Real women don’t smile all of the time, nor do we talk like babies, or have one-inch waists. Why do we continue to expose our daughters to this idea of womanhood? Why did I do it? It is really starting to disgust me, and that is why I think that I feel the need to lash out at fictional characters.
My favorite princess is Mulan. My children never fail to remind me that she is not actually a princess, by the way. My other two favorite Disney films are Ratatouille and Newsies. I guess just by that information my entire personality could be defined. It is interesting that no princesses are represented here. Another one of my favorite movies is Ever After, where Drew Barrymore plays the hero in her own story; that is my kind of princess. Maybe I can hold onto the hope that my daughters will respect my beliefs when it comes to the power and equality of women. They are past the point where I am going to try and control their exposure to princess stories because it interferes with my feminist beliefs. I will have to let them define their own ideals on their own, but that doesn’t mean that I am going to be quiet about it. They will always know that their mother would have been a really, truly, terrible princess…probably the sort that the king would have had executed or exiled before I caused too much trouble.