Saturday, January 6, 2018

In Defense of Disney Princesses

I have noticed that it has become a thing these days for people to hate on Disney princesses.  It's typically a parental thing, where they're wanting their children to idolize people who are more worthy of idolization. I get it. Being a princess, for a girl, has a negative connotation. There’s a certain stereotype that goes along with it.  

For instance, when you’re a princess, you only receive your title by being born into or marrying into a royal family.  A family that provides you with everything you’ve ever needed to be provided for you. In royal families, women typically don’t have any power, or a need to work, or any significance whatsoever.  Typically speaking, of course.  So I do understand why parents wouldn’t want this to be the idol they present to their young children.

I also understand how it's a societal issue that girls are trained to like princesses and boys are trained to like superheroes and G.I. Joes and shit. I understand. But my sister, born in 1981, was obsessed with Sleeping Beauty and also had tons of Nerf guns and a bowl cut. And my favorite movies were both Speed AND Hercules. I think there could be a balance. We don't have to train young girls to act like boys and like boy stuff, or vice versa. It should be a nice balance of everything and less of a stigma if a child chooses one over the other. I digress.

ANYWAYS. I grew up with Disney princesses as my “people”... and look at me! I’m just fine!  The anti-depressant I’m on has nothing to do with the fact that Prince Charming hasn’t come to save me, and that I have to work for my own money… and… wait.  That’s 100% the reason.  Nevermind.  Post over.

Kidding.

I just don’t think Disney princesses are negative influences for young children at all.  I think they’re actually empowering! Yes, there is usually a man involved… but that’s just the formula that works. And over time, they have modernized and broken from the formula here and there.  But let’s face it… it works.  It’s the reason why the Hallmark channel is so popular from late October thru January 1st.

Let’s look at Cinderella.  She lost her mother when she was very young and had a great childhood with her father.  They weren’t poor, but they weren’t rich.  Then… he died.  And her stepmother moved into her house with her two daughters.  And they were terrible to her.  Not only were they terrible, but they LITERALLY ABUSED HER.  They changed her goddamn name to Cinderella because she was dirty.  And all she wanted was the life she imagined for herself when she was a child.  When she was free to make her own choices and wasn’t A SLAVE TO HER STEP-FAMILY.  So she happened upon a fairy godmother, and she went to the ball, and she met a handsome man… and she lost a shoe that literally would have killed her… actually - let’s talk about that for a second.  The glass slippers are actually the most problematic thing about Cinderella.  Nobody would ever be able to wear those!  

Anyways, so the prince found the shoe… and went to every house in town (where no two people had the same shoe size) and eventually found, and saved Cinderella.  Yes.  All true.  But, are we supposed to expect her to find her own way out of that situation? Was she supposed to sing some sort of, “And I Am Telling You….” before walking out on her family with zero consequences? She had a dream, that someday her life would be a little better.  And the moral of the story is this: No matter how your heart is dreaming if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.

Her wish was to be free.  And she found freedom.  So, kids, keep believing in the craziest of dreams.  Nothing is impossible.

Jasmine wanted more from her life and had a small request to not be forced into marriage by her father, and she got exactly what she wanted.  The Sultan even came around and changed the law so that women wouldn’t be forced to marry someone they weren’t in love with.  That’s one of the most modern tales we could ask for!

Belle had much bigger dreams than her small-town expectations.  Also, the most handsome guy in town (who eats dozens of eggs every day as if that’s a good thing) was into her, and she wanted nothing to do with him.  She was odd, she stayed true to herself… and she even saved her father’s life!  Yes, she gets with Beast Jesus at the end, but it had nothing to do with the point of the story.  Stay true to who you are, make sacrifices for the ones you love, and always make sure your teacup is an actual teacup, and not a cute little boy, before drinking out of it.

The examples could go on for days! Think of Meg from Hercules (who sold her soul to Hades in order to save someone’s life), Pocahontas (who showed John Smith that she was no ignorant savage… which is a MUCH BETTER version of the real story), Ariel (who had big dreams to accomplish more in life and leave her small town and grow human legs) and Moana... who was in line to be CHIEF OF HER PEOPLE, but was like, "Nah... I wanna swim!"

All I’m saying is that Disney princesses were a huge part of my childhood.  I loved them.  I owned every single Barbie version that I could get my hands on and made her have sex with the Prince doll from a different story. (Jasmine and Prince Charming from Sleeping Beauty were a hot item… also, my sister and I called him Todd.)  But I didn’t love these women because they were princesses.  Or beautiful.  Or rich.  

I loved them because they were bad ass bitches.  They were strong-willed, they knew exactly what they wanted, they dreamed hard and didn’t accept the life that was given to them just because that was expected of them.  They rose above every challenge.  They took risks, they put their lives in danger, they fought hard for what they believed in.  

Please don’t deprive young children, or girls in particular, of the magic of Disney princesses.  They taught me a lot about what women can accomplish if they follow their dreams, make sacrifices for the people they love and believe in the impossible.  All while being super strong warriors, and having a super adorable animal sidekick.

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