I’ve got something to say. And most of you probably won’t like it.
Today I came across this article. Quick summary: Photographer mom thinks Barbie and Disney set unrealistic expectations for young girls, so instead of photographing her 5-year-old daughter in princess gowns and magic wands, she shoots her dressed up as five different influential women throughout history: Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Susan B Anthony, Helen Keller and Jane Goodall.
She described her project saying “Let’s set aside the Barbie Dolls and the Disney Princesses. . . and show our girls the REAL women they can be.” Otherwise knows as the “Disney Princess Effect.”
I can’t say I disagree with Jamie Moore. After all, I am a size 8, sometimes semi-frizzy haired, acne-prone woman – nowhere near as “attractive” as Barbie or “Cinderella.” I agree with her that these companies do not emulate their characters as the “average” woman. And I do see what A Mighty Girl means when they described Disney’s makeover of Merida from the movie “Brave” as being oversexualized and inappropriate.
However, what I’m not OK with is the “wussification of America” that we seem to be dealing with so often these days. (You can read more about this notion on my favorite radio show’s website). Basically, this country is becoming too PC. Yes…me…Laura Smith…big time liberal…just said this. A few months ago a high school in Massachusetts considered cancelling its honors night so it wouldn’t offend those kids who didn’t make honors. WAIT, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I see this same trend in what’s going on with this mother. Yes, young girls should be taught they can do anything. Yes, they should be taught they don’t have to be a size 2 to be beautiful. But should they be stripped of their innocence in something as simple as watching “Snow White” or “The Little Mermaid” all because of what they will think society will look at them as? I’ve got news for you: the only thing a 5-year-old girl is thinking when she is watching Cinderella is how fun it would be to talk to animals and whether or not her mom will let her go get some ice cream from the kitchen.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was Disney’s first animated movie and subsequently, the first “Disney princess” movie. It was released in 1937. Which means for the past 76 years, little girls have been watching movies about handsome princes, kissing frogs and talking squirrels. My grandmother watched these movies. My mom watched these movies. I watched these movies. And guess what, never for a second have I EVER thought, “damnit, I need to look like Ariel, she is PERFECT.” I also have never thought “Man, that Cinderella won’t amount to anything because she didn’t have a job” (go with me on this one – this movie was set in the 17th century when women didn’t work). Plus, they make career-woman Barbie now! What’s your argument on that one??
Would I like to lose 10 pounds? Sure. Do I want to do it because Princess Jasmine was a skinny you-know-what? Or because Skipper would have a 18″ waist if she were a real person? No. Do I want to become a successful career woman? Duh. I want that more than I want a handsome prince right now (no, really). While I do argue that society has made us feel inferior to others (no thanks to jerk Mike Jeffries and his lovely statements on what makes you “cool” this week) thanks to the fashion industry and the tabloid media, I don’t think watching a Disney princess movie or playing with a Barbie doll is going to make these young girls feel as though they won’t be able to accomplish anything or have to look a certain way. I watched a Disney movie every week from about age 5-8 and played with Barbies every day and I can tell you, I sure as hell want to conquer the world. And don’t need to be a size 2 to do it either.