Friday, April 25, 2014

How Disney Princesses Lead Young Women To Dystopic Fiction

Princess gathering
By Anna Mussmann
April 25, 2014

Prince William and Duchess Kate just wrapped up a visit to Australia. In a photo of Aussie crowds greeting the royals, two girls perhaps 5 or 6 years old stare upward at the Duchess’ face. One is clad in a costume modeled off Snow White’s. The other also wears a princess gown. Presumably, the two heard that they would be meeting a real live princess, and wanted to dress for the occasion. Who among us does not know at least one little girl who is happiest in a long, pink dress; wears a plastic tiara to the grocery store; recites the names of the princess collection before the ABC’s; and prefers that even her underwear are emblazoned with Disney royalty?

Somehow, images of slender femininity with flowing hair and royal pedigrees strikes a chord within the souls of small, female children across the globe. Not only can a professional party princess command a better annual salary than I did in my first teaching job, but Disney’s new line of princess merchandise also generated more than $4 billion between 2000 and 2009. This is true despite the efforts of many parents to avoid or sidestep the craze. A study by Sharon Hayes and Stacey Tantleff-Dunn observed that among the 3-year-olds to 6-year-olds they interviewed, the majority believed that they could be a princess, and over half said that a pretty dress or a crown would make them so... the rest image
The real message is that our girls need us to step entirely outside of the shiny, commercial world that would channel them toward following one fad after another until their souls and sense of self are blunted. It is possible to raise children who are independent from commercial culture and who can safely dabble in a princess or two, or an occasional dystopia, without being shaped and limited by them.


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