I try to ignore most articles shared and posted in social media. People tend to comment without reading more than the title, use incorrect grammar, and generally make me want to run my head through the wall. Occasionally, however, I will come across something which sparks my interest or has been shared so many times that I decided to jump the bandwagon and find out what’s going on. When the internet blew up over Disney redesigning their princesses, I finally broke down and decided to check out what was going on.
Most of the uproar was about Merida, who has supposedly been reshaped to be more Barbie than Scottish lass; there were also some complaints about the other princesses including shrinking waistlines and enlarged bosoms. The focus of these complaints are how they’re unrealistic expectations for little girls, insert generic Disney complaint here, etc etc. Honestly, as a woman and the mother of a little girl, I do not see the big deal. I grew up with every princess dress and doll out there and I turned out to be a pretty damn amazing, independent woman if I do say so myself. Sure, the princesses look different- they’re more sparkly, the dresses are more ornate, Mulan has a crown (this annoyed me more than the whole waistline deal). And, you know, unless you’re a member of the Windsor family, it is completely unrealistic to think you will ever become a princess.
Galactus is quite the model.
But would you really ever tell a child that being a princess is unrealistic? Lets reverse this: Superman’s muscles are pretty damn unrealistic. What if someone told their boy “Hey son, I know you love Superman, but take off the cape and toss out the action figure because that’s not going to happen.” Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. Yes the Princesses have unrealistic physical appearances and yes we women take that to heart a bit, but children don’t look at the Little Mermaid and think “HEY! I should change for a man!” or “Hey, that’s sexy”. Children aren’t born knowing that- those are the thought of adults, not children. Children see a pretty toy or dress that they can use to play pretend. They hear stories they love that give them the catalyst for dramatic play games that are essential to emotional development. During dramatic play, children learn more about themselves and their interactions with peers than during any other activity. Dramatic play is essential to helping children find their places in the world and if a sparkly princess dress and a deep-rooted love for Ariel helps an otherwise shy child interact better with their peers, there is not any harm. If you really hate the Princesses, don’t buy the stuff. However, realize that there will still be exposure through media and other children- it’s pretty damn likely that your young girl whill know who Snow White is.
If we really want to boost women’s body images, there are so many better ways that we can do so than measuring the waistline of a cartoon character (Isn’t that a bit creepy anyways?). First of all, those “Real woman have curves” memes are bullshit. That attitude is way more hurtful to young girl’s self-esteem than Cinderella’s choice of formal wear. Real women are tall and short, big and small, curvy and not so curvy- a real woman is ANYONE who identifies as such. Constantly picking on small girls and telling them to eat a cheeseburger is extraordinarily hurtful to the girls self-esteem and to women in general. Think before you post- if it says ANYTHING that puts down any type of body, just say no. Post a cat meme instead. Cats are hilarious. Expose young girls to all types of women- fictional cartoons, larger than life heroines, and real life amazing women they interact with every day. Be a good role model for young girls in your life. If you’re a mother or guardian of a young girl, trust yourself. You are an amazing woman (Or a man. Men can be amazing too!). You are a good role model and no amount of princess movies and bedazzled dresses is going to change that.
Feminism is about choice. Raise your children with the ability to make positive choices. Educate them. Love them. For the love of god stop wasting precious brain synapses and giving Disney free advertising.