Oh there are so many posts and blogs and articles about Disney Princesses and how these are weak, stupid females setting wrong examples to children. For a long time, I didn’t particularly think of these obviously-fiction characters as role models. They were bed time stories and that was it.
I received a book of feminist stories when I was perhaps 14. The books had an interesting twist on the common stories that we read. Little Red Riding Hood did not wait for someone to come and cut her out of the Wolf’s stomach. She chopped the wolf to pieces herself. Cindrella did not end up marrying the prince – the guy who was so blinded by the lights that he couldn’t really recognize the woman he claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
Some of these stories were very clearly written for older women. But even if I had heard them as a kid, would it have made an difference to me as a woman?
I don’t think hearing the traditional (non-Grimm Brothers) versions of these stories scarred me in any way or made me sit and wait for my Prince Charming to rescue me. Perhaps that is also because of other role models I had.
I know several kids in today’s generation who fawn over the Disney Princess. They have Disney Princess lunchboxes, CDs, backpacks, pencil cases, t-shirts and their rooms are painted in the candiest pink you can find. It is disturbing. Because with all that pink, the girls also seem to be having a definition of what being a ‘girl’ means, even at the tender age of 7 or 8 years old. They wants a ‘girl-specific’ bike, they want a barbie and not a remote-controlled car.
It makes me wonder – was I one of the exceptions to be influenced by these stories? Do these stories seep into our psyche in manners that are seen only later?
Do children really believe that if they are trapped in a glass box, a prince will come and break them out of that box? Do they believe that waiting is a virtue? That singing songs in the rain will really be heard by a passing stranger, who then will be nice enough to help you?
I’d like to believe that these fairy tales are just that – fantasy. I probably dreamed more about being in The Hobbit and fighting dragons more than being in a Princess trapped in a boring life of song and high ceilings. But perhaps when these stories are being made into movies, it is more dangerous than letting your own imagination fly.