Thursday, July 8, 2010

Can we change princess culture?

When I speak of my disdain of the Disney-fication and/or princess-ification of girl culture, I am often met with a "Oh just you wait," or a knowing "You'll see!" (these usually come in a very sing-songy voice that could make a girl, even a 'princess' like me, prone to throttling but that's besides the point), intimating that of course Disney and all its sexist princess-y glory is, you know, a given for all girls.  And it got me to thinking.  Maybe it is.

Certainly, once my Girlio heads out into the world without me (Oh God!  Do I have to let my kiddies out in the world??? Some parents worry about the influence of drug culture or sex, and me, me I worry about the impact of Disney.  Anyhoo...) she is going to be immediately bombarded with all of the things (Disney princesses included) that I have tried my absolute damndest to avoid. 

So - if a princess phases is really somehow a given (I'm still not entirely convinced, but I'm going to say it is for the sake of this blog!), can we re-message and re-package what "princess" means and looks like in a way that makes princess life empowering and not merely about external appearance, wealth, and netting a hot young prince?

Can we revise the message of Snow White, for example, that tells girls that their beauty will make other women hate them?  Can we find something empowering amidst prevalent messages that men fall in love with women for what's on the outside, that men are women's rescuers, that a heterosexual marriage (preferably to a wealthy, handsome prince) is the most important life goal?

I remain entirely unconvinced.  But I'm open to suggestions...


  1. I don't put on make-up. Granted, my daughters sleep in purple and pink rooms, but they're geared towards bugs and the Paper Bag Princess (the best princess, in my books). And somehow, my oldest daughter (3) has discovered the princesses. Youngest one's birthday was about princesses thanks to sister input. How did it happen? I have NO idea.

    Here's my parenting belief - they're going to figure it out. My kids watch TV in the morning before I've consumed my coffee (and have learned the valuable survival skill of not bugging Mommy until that time!). They know who Dora is (and can count in Spanish!). Introduce them to anything - love for nature/people (Snow White), making mistakes (Sleeping Beauty), allowing yourself to have a dream (Cinderella) - and they will learn the lessons that they can relate too, and that is based on the values that parents and extended family introduce them to.

  2. Imogen has fallen victim to the princess culture. I hate it. I try to subvert it. And I REALLY encourage Imogen when she takes princess play along unconventional paths (her suggestion that Mulan and Belle could be her mommies, for example, got revisited lots.)
    I don't think we can avoid Disney. It's everywhere. So I'm doing what I can to give Imogen the critical skills to dump Disney eventually... I hope.

  3. just think! you managed it, and you'll pass on some fierce skills!

    cf - mother of boys! (yikes)