When you look at the ads in their entirety they encourage girls to overcome obstacles, prepare for the real world and say there is more to life than beauty. Great messages! Unfortunately, for some these ads have become an open door for them to release significant pent-up hostility towards Disney (who knew?) and all things girly.
On Jezebel.com Erin Ryan wrote, “Metastasized princess culture is responsible for all manner of social ills” look up the word metastasized and you will see it is most often used when referring to cancer. Right after this the author implies that princess culture is responsible for land mines. WHAT?
One mom wrote a blog entitled “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Girls Grow Up to be Princesses”. She uplifts building blocks and magnatiles while speaking about pink, tutus, and baby dolls as if they are some necessary evil we all have to grit our teeth and bare. At the end she writes:
“And, if your little girl absolutely must have a princess book consider The Paper Bag Princess, in which a pint-sized princess trades in her gown for much simpler attire to outsmart a dragon, save the prince and live happily ever after on her own”.
The overlying message in all this seems to be: A girl who likes pink, dresses and dreams of being a princess will grow up to be weak and a failure. She must cast off these foolish things and become a real woman!
Two things I have in response to this:
First of all, girls liking princesses will not have quite the dramatic effect these moms are suggesting. Moms have long been making pleas to stop dressing girls in princess costumes for Halloween, but what little girl wants to dress up as Jane Goodall? It’s in the same way, that little boys want to be cowboys and not Bill Gates. I once heard a kid say he wanted to grow up to be a fire truck (yes a fire truck not a fireman). Most kids change their minds about future career paths dozens of times, heck, adults change their career paths dozens of times.
Secondly, why is being a princess not an acceptable career choice/role model? Last May, shortly after Disney remade the look for the female character in Brave and caused a huge uproar, one mom decided to ask some girls in her life: What makes a princess? The girls named qualities such as kind, nice, royal, a friend, and brave. These don’t seem like such bad qualities to me!
In our efforts to empower girls let us not move to the opposite extreme. Let us not advocate for feminine equality by vilifying traditional femininity. The above comments uplift women heroes who wear business suits, sit in a board room or office with all men, don’t wear makeup, pink or glitter, and remain single their whole life to prove they don’t need a man. That picture of a woman is awesome and if a woman wants to go that way I support her. I also support the women who like wearing dresses, makeup and glitter. Women who want to get married and be mothers and who consider motherhood their top priority. Those women are no less female role models than the ones on Wall Street. Education should empower girls to be whichever kind of woman they want to be.
Herbert, C. (2013, May 29). Glamorized Disney princesses may not be affecting girls the way parents believe. Desert News. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865580816/In-defense-of-Disney-Glamorized-princesses-may-not-be-affecting-girls-the-way-parents-believe.html?pg=all
Ryan, E. (2013, Nov. 12). Schools ‘you are not a princess’ campaign give girls much-needed real talk. Jezebel. Retrieved from http://jezebel.com/schools-you-are-not-a-princess-ads-give-girls-much-n-1463037459
Smith, J. (2013, Nov. 13). Mamas, don’t let your girls grow up to be princesses. Huffington Post The Blog. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-davis-smith/mamas-dont-let-your-girls-grow-up-to-be-princesses_b_4268738.html