Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New and Improved Disney Princesses

"Fetch me my blanket at once!”

My three-year-old daughter Caroline is barking orders using her “princess words.”

Today she is Princess Jasmin, but all Disney Princesses are in her rotation. Her closet full of tulle and satin leaves little room for regular clothing and she’d wear her dress-up gowns to preschool every day were it allowed. She is currently hosting a “royal ball” in her room with two of her friends and her two-year-old brother Paul, who is content in his recurring role as Tinkerbell. From what I can hear, Tinkerbell has just committed a royal faux pas – passing gas – and Princess Jasmin is outraged: “No tooting at the royal ball, Paulie! To the dungeon!”

It’s a typical scene here and anywhere there are little girls. It's Disney Princess Overload. D.P.O.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A princess.
Favorite place? Disney on Ice, the princess parts.
Favorite books? Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, etc.
Movies: Ditto

I have to admit I sometimes worry about all of these Disney rescue fantasies. All of these stories occur in a dated realm where you only live “happily ever after” if you get married. I want teach my daughter to be strong-willed and independent and not get hung up on all of that. I want her to see beyond the fairy tales.

I also don’t want to suck the whimsy out of her childhood.

A few weeks ago she received an invitation to a birthday party for one of her preschool classmates. “Come dressed as your favorite princess!” Here we go. D.P.O. – it’s epidemic.

At the party, the little-girl gaggle of Ariels, Belles, and Snow Whites feasted on Disney Princess cake off Disney Princess plates and guzzled milk from Disney Princess cups. In Caroline’s princess words: “They were having a wonderfully delightful time.”

Then came Story Time where the birthday girl’s mother did something absolutely brilliant: She provided alternate endings to all of the princess tales.

For instance:
And after she and Prince Eric escaped the Sea Witch, Ariel decided to go to medical school.
Snow White decided to backpack through Europe.
Belle launched an Internet company
Cinderella wrote 10 novels.

What a wonderfully delightful idea.

Obviously we can’t do this with the movie versions but I am enjoying this newfound artistic license. Every little bit helps. Now, I am bracing myself for the next phase -- that dolly prostitute craze known as Bratz.


Sandy said...

I've read so many articles or postings with this approximate theme. "Princesses...ew, but whatcha gonna do?"

I have to say I find it kind of frustrating, because, well, kids don't have to be shown these movies. They just don't. At 3? C'mon, who's in charge?

Disney isn't the only route to childhood whimsy, and in my experience (as a mother of girls aged 4 and 2) it just isn't as hard to avoid as stories like this would have us believe.

I do love what the birthday girl's mommy did with the stories. If only Disney were so clever! But as long as people are buying what they're selling, there's no call to be.

KJ said...

Sandy, the posting's intent was "humor." No one is suggesting that Disney is the only route to childhood whimsy but it's ubiquity cannot be disputed. My daughter has been exposed to numerous movies and books aside from Disney's but even three-year-old's have their favorites. Being "in charge" doesn't necessarily mean denying a three-year-old her Cinderella stories.

Melinda said...

What a wonderful idea!
Melinda D.