Are Fairytale Princesses Passe in 2010?

January 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm 12 comments

I recently took part in a discussion over Disney’s new movie “The Princess and the Frog” where a few people wished Tiana, a poor, hard-working young girl in New Orleans who dreams of owning her own restaurant, could’ve had it all without having to kiss a frog, become a princess, and marry the prince. After all, it has been 50 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement began. Though Tiana IS the first Disney princess to have a job, a savings and a dream to start her own business they argued, did we really want to send the message to young girls that they also needed “a man” to complete the picture?

Perhaps this is a bit of over-analysis for an animated kid’s movie, but it begs the question, are fairytale princesses passe for young girls of today? I don’t think so.

My little girl is no different from any other her age. She loves to dress up in her growing number of princess costumes (sometimes three at once), complete with crown, jewelry and even a magic wand. We play along and call her Princess Reagan as she twirls and skips through the house, waving her wand in utter confidence that her every wish is our command. Well, I guess she’s mostly right there. Reagan’s been enthralled with everything princessy for the past year, from books and movies to the Band-Aids she plucked off the shelf at Walgreens yesterday with Princess Tiana’s picture on it (conveniently located at kid eye-level). She can’t get enough of Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora and Snow White, making her Daddy and I read the stories over and over again at naptime and bedtime.

I remember being the same way. I wanted to be Cinderella with singing birds and mice as friends, a pumpkin that turned into a coach, and a handsome prince to rescue me. Despite the fact that I was a tomboy and my mother an adamant feminist who taught me never to rely on a man, that part of me could never be erased. No matter how hard I tried. And, I did try.

I was completely mystified by other girls in college who openly admitted they were there to get their “MRS.” The idea never occurred to me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure a husband and family were something I wanted. I believed in making my own way and being self-reliant. Convinced I would find happiness and fulfillment through my own personal success, I didn’t need a man. In many ways, I could see myself in Tiana, blinded by my own ambition.

But, the truth is, that little girl inside of me who dreamed of being Cinderella never really died. No matter how hard I tried to deny her, she was always there, making an appearance in the excitement of every new relationship. That part of me that wondered, “could this be the one?” could never be squashed. It wasn’t until I made a conscience choice to give into my inner-Cinderella, recognize that there is no shame in desiring love, a husband or children and decided to accept the gift of each, that I truly felt… dare I say it? Complete.

I believe we were designed this way as women. Seeking our soul mate is part of our makeup. And no matter how many decades go by and how far women excel in this world, there is no fighting nature. Is this to say a woman can’t be happy unless she finds a man? No. Of course not. But, is there anything wrong with indulging that innocent part of your little girl who wants to believe in the love of fairytales? I say there is plenty of time for your princess to discover that the world can be one big swamp full of wart-covered frogs promising to be her Prince Charming, and time to learn that she better take the reigns of her own coach if she wants to go anywhere in life. Sure, teach your daughters to stand on their own two feet, but why not also let them believe that there’s a Prince Naveen out there somewhere who can sweep them off of them too?

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck  |  January 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Your last sentence says it all! I’m a firm believer in princesses and fairy tales and I want to instill that sense of magic and wonder in my daughter. Sure, life doesn’t turn out to be a fairy tale and life with prince charming also means work. But it’s none the less magical in real life.

    Reply
    • 2. Mama Bird  |  January 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      I totally agree, Amber. I’m all about allowing my daughter to hold onto “magic and wonder” in her life for as long as she can, because just then maybe, a little part of it will last into her adulthood! Who doesn’t need to just believe sometimes?

      Reply
  • 3. feedingtimeatthezoo  |  January 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I’m a mom of 3 boys and have always been a tomboy and never did the princess thing. When I started parenting I swore that if I ever had a girl I’d refuse all pink clothing and ban princess stuff from my house. 3 boys later…I totally get it now!! My heart craves some pink and fluff and glitter! I may buy ME a princess dress one of these days 🙂 I think it is also good for my boys to have a little glitter and magic too.

    I’ve read that criticism of princesses – as well as of the Twilight series. I do believe that women should stand on their own and not wait for a big strong man to come rescue them and make them whole. But I also think that real life marriage is hard work… and that it works better when injected with some fantasy, love and fairy tale magic. My husband is no real life P.C. (prince charming), but I LIKE him better when I let him be my knight in shining armor (and I know that he likes me better when I allow some of that princess to show through). What’s wrong with a little romance and magic?

    Nicole (NicoleLJ)

    Reply
    • 4. Mama Bird  |  January 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      I was the same way, Nicole. Never played dress-up, nor did I play with Barbies. The only princess stuff I had was my books, so there is where I lived out the fantasy before going outside to climb trees and play kickball in the street. I also told my friends and family “no pink!” Got a little hard to resist though once I found out I was having a little girl and started doing a little shopping. It really grew on me, and I thought, “why not?” I think by having a girl I’m able to indulge that part of me that never got to express herself as a little girl myself.

      Sage advice on marriage BTW. Wise of us all to remember to let each other play the role of prince and princess sometimes to bring back the magic!

      Reply
  • 5. The Casual Perfectionist  |  January 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I don’t have a problem with my daughter watching Disney Princess movies or pretending to be a princess. One look at her room would show you that she enjoys those things.

    But, when the question came up about how I truly felt about this Disney movie, I had to answer truthfully. I really do wish, just ONCE that a princess in a Disney movie could be successful, reach her dreams and THEN become a princess…and not because of it. I also wish that a Disney princess could wear glasses. (My daughter brought this up, because she recently got glasses, that none of the princesses wear them, and it’s true.) …but that’s another story that I file along with the hope that most Disney princess mothers were still alive by the end of the first scene. (I WAS thrilled to see that in this movie!!)

    My sisters and I never played princess. We played Dukes of Hazzard. For real. We never played dress up, because my mother wouldn’t allow it, because makeup and jewelry were not allowed like that. (In fact, when we played Dukes of Hazzard, we didn’t fight over who could be Daisy. We fought over who could be Bo. How funny!)

    I think the Disney Princess fairytales are just that: fictional movies to pass the time. Unfortunately, I spend most of my day undoing the messages they send, but that’s okay. My daughter loves dressing up, and if it makes her happy, it makes me happy.

    Do I thinkmy daughter needs a man to be successful? Absolutely not. Was I happy before I met my husband? Absolutely. Did I “seek him out” and all that? No! Meeting him just happened. I’m glad it did, but it wasn’t what made me complete. (For me, completion is more complicated that a man and a title of royalty.)

    Granted, I kissed a lot of frogs in my day, but that had nothing to do with searching for a prince. 😉

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, my daughter is requesting Princess Leia buns be placed in her hair. On purpose. If it’s not one princess, it’s another… 😉

    Reply
    • 6. Mama Bird  |  January 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

      It also makes me happy to see my daughter playing dress-up because I never had that growing up either. And, just like you, I never sought out my prince, but I was just as happy to see him show up!

      I think it’s a balancing act in raising girls. I definitely don’t want Reagan to go to college seeking her MRS, laying all her hopes & dreams on finding Prince Charming. But, I do want her to hold onto the idea of a fairytale ending being possible while she pursues a career, and not to think it’s a bad thing (as I did) to want both!

      Reply
  • 7. The Casual Perfectionist  |  January 16, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Sorry for the long comment, but I forgot something! Ack! After seeing Princess and the Frog, Claire said, “I’d like to be a princess, Momma…but I don’t want to HAVE TO HAVE a prince.” I think that sums it up nicely. Maybe she should write my comments from now on. 😉

    Reply
    • 8. Mama Bird  |  January 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      Long comments and multiple comments are always welcomed! By you AND Claire! 🙂

      Reply
  • 9. Lori in Denver  |  January 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Your post makes me think of the roots and wings thingy. I want my children (boy and girl) to be self-reliant — the roots — AND open to partnership –the wings, the magic.

    There was something in Gibran’s The Prophet about this:

    “And stand together, yet not too near together.
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart”

    Great post — you’ve really got me thinking!

    Reply
    • 10. Mama Bird  |  January 17, 2010 at 1:00 am

      I like that, Lori: roots and wings. Nice.

      Reply
  • 11. Melissa Taylor  |  January 16, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Great post – totally agree! I voice my opinion loudly about Ariel for the reason — that I don’t want my daughter to grow up and ditch her life for a man like Ariel. Also, there are no positive mother figure in most Disney movies? What is up with that?

    Anyway, I can’t wait to see the Princess and the Frog – it sounds like a step up for Disney!

    Reply
    • 12. Mama Bird  |  January 17, 2010 at 1:01 am

      It totally is. Disney has moved a century forward in this film, and yet still kept the magic! A must see!

      Reply

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