"A word in earnest is as good as a speech"
~Charles Dickens: Bleak House

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughful Thursday ..... do you want to be a princess?

An article popped up in my newsfeed today about Disney Studio's newest Princess. Her name is Sophia and she is a little girl (as opposed to the others who are young women). She is meant to be "a positive and educational role model" for preschool girls (and no doubt sell a lot of toys).

There is also a new Pixar movie coming out over the summer called Brave, featuring Princess Merida, who is a "girl" trying to compete with the boys.

There was a point in time when even my five-year-old son was in a princess frenzy, carrying around his small Princess Peach toy everywhere he went. He has since decided he does not like princesses and has no desire to be a prince.

The article about Sophia made me stop and think. It talks about how hopefully this princess (since she is so young) will do more than sit around and wait for her prince to come.

The battle over whether or not Disney princesses are good or bad role models for young girls is endless ....

I loved Snow White and Sleeping Beauty when I grew up. Even as a young adult I could watch Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid over and over. I wanted the dream. I wanted to be saved. I admit, I brought my oldest son to see Mulan when he was very young, not because I thought he would be interested in a Chinese war movie .... but because I wanted to see Disney's attempt at a strong female role model. I was disappointed .... not because it was a bad movie, but because it showed women that to be powerful they needed to act more like men. Even the trailer for the new Pixar movie seems to be sending the message that no longer will the princess wait around for a prince to save her, she will act like a man and then be successful on her own.

As an adult I learned  that being a princess is not all it is cracked up to be. We learned from Princess Diana that being a princess is not all glitz and glamour. And the recent Princess Kate had premarital counseling to avoid the depressing that Diana dealt with. It makes you realize that perhaps Princess Jasmine from Aladdin was right in leaving the castle to pursue her dreams ..... which do not include being a trophy wife.

My new favorite television show is of course Downton Abbey. These are women that I can see as good role models. Caught between the era of women having no rights or independence, to women wanting and fighting for it. The battle between tradition and social change. And with it all a castle, Lords and Ladies; Dukes and Countesses. In the end our heroine, Lady Mary, gets the boy as well. It has all the romance and feisty ladies all rolled into one - where the men have the power, but the women have the strength.

I was fortunate that I birthed boys. I don't think I would have been a good mother to daughters. They would have been confused as I spouted strong female values .... and still sat down with a big bowl of popcorn to daydream about living in a castle and falling in love with a handsome prince. So instead of raising the next generation of Disney Princesses, I am raising the next generation of Princes. Who (I hope) will value women for what they are instead of what they look like. Who will value independence and free thinking while at the same time showing respect and tenderness. And to those moms who refuse to let their little girls imagine and dream of being a princess I say "lighten up." You can find good role models in the princess realm, as long as you are willing to sit down and talk about it with your little girl about the reality of being a woman.


  1. What a delightful read Leann. Thankyou. On a serious note the whole issue of role models - especially in relation to girls and young women is, I believe, a major issue facing the western world. My two lovely grand-daughters (aged 6 and 9) seem as if they are 16 and 19 with all that goes with it - I do find it a little worrying! However, on a more light hearted note two things! "Downton Abbey" - oh dear! My wife's favourite too - I've reached 67 years of age and still don't understand women!
    And secondly a lovely "feminist" joke I heard recently:

    A ship was sinking and a rescue helicopter hovered above to rescue the passengers. The sea was rough and a rope was lowered to the ship and the passengers told to clamber up it. There was only room for ten but eleven clutched the rope - ten men and one woman. The helicopter rose and the pilot realised too many were hanging on - the order was given that one person should jump off into the sea. Of course no-one was willing to be that person but eventually the woman spoke up. "I'll jump off " she said."As a woman I'm used to making sacrifices - I gave up my career to have children, I always played second place to my brother's needs, I do all the housekeeping as well as go to work, I always agree with my husband and make every effort to meet his needs, I regularly put my dreams on hold because of my family........this is no big deal.....I'll jump". There were nods of understanding from all the men hanging onto the rope ........and then they all began to clap!
    Hang in there Leann! Have a good day!

  2. fairytale princesses or sexualised girls... you're right leann - parents need to discuss the fantasy of both... but we do need strong role models of real little girls doing real kid stuff...

  3. @Proud Womon - I could not agree more. Children are not allowed to be children regardless of gender. We need more positive role models in general and need to allow kids to be kids.