04 February 2011

Of Princesses and Frogs

I was perusing old posts over at Prairie Mother, looking for her pumpkin pie recipe, when I happened on this post about the Princess Syndrome.  You know what it is:  Every little girl is a princess!

I typed out this whole comment over there, and then realized it was more of an entire post than a comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The "comment" was:

Yes, there is definitely a "Princess Culture" out there, and Disney is most certainly leading the charge.  I loved the Disney movies when I was growing up, but now, with a daughter of my own, I have avoided them like the proverbial plague.  When you really consider the messages they send, there is very little of value.

 Snow White is gullible and foolish, saved by a magic kiss.

Aurora is...gullible and foolish, saved by a magic kiss.

Cinderella is meek and obedient, saved by a Fairy Godmother and a troupe of animals to whom she has been kind (at least that's something positive).

Ariel...don't even get me started on her.  "But if I do that, I'll never see my father or my sisters again."  "But, you'll have your man!" the witch says slyly.  And that's ok by her.  Oh, and she's sixteen, belligerent, stubborn, and determined to have her own way.  And obviously completely mature enough to fall in love and live happily ever after. 

Jasmine, well, she's probably a step up as far as the feminists are concerned.  Which is to say, her father is preoccupied and out of touch, her boyfriend is a "bad boy" that she has to help rescue, and her pursuer is skanky and must be overcome by her wits and resourcefulness.  So if you want to teach your daughter to look down on all the men in her life and only rely on herself (and any magical genii she happens to find), Jasmine's perfect.  Especially if you like skimpy outfits.

Belle is pretty much the same thing, only she does it all with more clothes on.  So I'd say from Aladdin on, (chronologically speaking), the Disney princesses stopped being helpless females waiting to be rescued, and became the only intelligent people in the whole movie.  Not much of an improvement.

When I think about qualities I want my daughter to admire and emulate, I don't think of waiting around for her hero to find her, kiss her, and sweep her off to some type of happily-ever-after.  Nor do I want her to feel that she should be some type of super-hero female, relying on no one (because they're all unreliable) as she charges ahead with her own dreams and plans...hoping that some man will fall into her life one day and want to come along for the ride.  (Because make no mistake - the hero is still necessary for the princess.  The difference, now, is he's the sidekick, rather than the rescuer.)

I want my daughter to strive to be a woman of strength, honor, resourcefulness, and intelligence, who respects herself, and these qualities, enough to hold out for those same things in a life-partner.  I don't think she's going to learn that from the Disney cadre of princesses.  Any other suggestions for role models?  Because the ruffles and twirly dresses are hard to compete with, I gotta tell ya.

2 comments:

  1. If you consider yourself "a woman of strength, honor, resourcefulness, and intelligence, who respects herself, and these qualities, enough to hold out for those things in a life-partner" (which I am sure that you are!),then I believe that you learned to think for yourself and were not unduly swayed by the Disney movies YOU loved as a child. What makes you think that you will not bring up a daughter who can also think for herself? A person who can think critically and clearly can be "exposed" to all sorts of "influences" without harm to their true selves. In fact, it can be like dating, the real lessons learned are what you really DON'T want in a life-partner, so you can move on to the real thing.

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  2. I think we can look beautiful, want to be treated well, and be smart all at the same time.

    Disney princesses just made me appreciate lovely dresses and having grand adventures. Except for when I'm hurting and actually need help, I don't think I took away the need for someone to rescue me from the movies/cartoons.

    But, what I didn't take from it, some other girl may. Maybe it depends on the person?

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