Mr 4 loves the move Tangled. I’ll be honest and admit that it’s one of my favourite new Disney movies too. Not everyone loves the Disney Princesses though and I think they might be getting a bit of a bad rap.
Sometimes I feel like maybe there is a little too much adult input into what the underlying message a movie is trying to our young children. Recently Peppa Pig came under fire for promoting Feminist Ideals because the female characters in the show had jobs. I asked Mr 4 what he thought Peppa Pig was about..his answer was pretty simple *jumping in muddy puddles*
Now maybe I am underestimating kids, maybe they do see the underlying messages in shows. According to critics, the Disney Princesses promote a lifestyle where women rely on a male figure to save them. That their only goal in life is to get themselves a man and start popping out those babies. As an adult I can see those undertones, however I think that the children are more likely to respond to the role models in their life, rather than a fictional character.
Last time I checked, I’m a girl. I was a girl who loved princess stories as much as the next little girl. I knew every word to Swan Princess and watched it so many times I am sure my mother wished she could throw it out without me noticing. Yet here I am, an adult who doesn’t believe that a man is the be all and end all of my existence. A woman who loves her partner fiercely but knows that it’s not a fairytale, it’s taken us a lot of work to create the relationship we have.
I have a child who I love more than life itself, however he wasn’t in my life plan originally. He was definitely a surprise baby! A pleasant surprise! If you had told my teenage self that at almost 26 I would have a child I would have laughed in your face. I didn’t think that having a child was the only thing that a woman had to offer the world, because I had parents who taught me that I could be anything.
A child takes much more notice of the things you do and less of the things we say. Sure if we go flitting around our lives from man to man, never quite happy unless we are attached then our daughters will see that as the norm. They haven’t picked it up from a fictional character, they saw it in their world.
Maybe we need to spend more time showing our girls that they can be anything they put their minds to. It’s more than the wishy washy building self esteem stuff, it’s about teaching them that hard work pays off, that the way they choose to live their life is OK. Isn’t that what Feminism is about? Being equal, not shooting people down for their ideas and the way they live. Having a high flying career might be your idea of a great life but it doesn’t mean that a woman who chooses to be a SAHM and take care of her husband is worth any less.
Children already seem to be forced to grow up too soon, let’s let them have their Disney Princesses and their Prince Charming. We all need down time from the world around us.
Do you think the Disney Princesses are getting a bad rap?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT (which is most definitely not gone forever!)
I’ll admit, I’m not such a huge fan of the Disney Princess – esp the Little Mermaid – the prince is meant to not notice her and run off with some other chick while she’s left with nothing (no friends, family and a pair of legs).
But I did love them as a kid, and I don’t think they really do damage – I missed the Peppa Pig drama – women can’t have jobs now???
I think there are two categories of princess, tangled is a more modern empowered fairytale. The princess is strong and the love story is not the be all and end all to her tale.
But I don’t want my children influenced by the likes of Disney’s Cinderella or the Little Mermaid. They build on our culture that women are incomplete without men and while subconscious I don’t think my kids need any more of that in their system than they get without them.
There are plenty of awesome princess tales ‘The Worst Princess’ is one of our favourites, so I don’t think my kids are missing out on anything if I use my adult perception of things to avoid the princesses that I don’t think are healthy.
I do think that each family needs to make their own decisions on these things though.
Not sure what is wrong with me but I’ve never been one for the fairy tale or princess story. A realist from way back. Sad but true.
Tegan, I really really do! I actually have drafted a story about this after an incident I had with a woman at Target. We had a disagreement about whether or not our children should wear princess undies! I think people are overthinking these princesses a little too much and getting a little crazy about it all. I loved Disney Princesses as a child too and I turned out okay.
I don’t see how having princess undies is any different to having pink undies. Who cares what is on them if your child will wear them and aim not to wee in them.
I don’t like the Princess overload and the way my MIL tells Ashleigh she’s a little princess all the time – but that’s very different from being anti-Disney princess! There’s a place for them. My favourite wasn’t a Disney princess – I loved Anastasia. Well, mostly I loved John Cusack’s voice as Dmitri.
Oh, and I love Tangled as well. And I think you can argue that Rapunzel ‘saves’ Flynn in that movie, not the other way around.
Emily me too!!! That was my favourite cartoon! We actually had the song at our wedding would you believe?
Like many forms of writing, I think it just reveals more about the writer & their influences than anything else.
Sure, older cartoons may have “helpless” princesses. But were they written in times when women were expected to only stay home & listen to a husband? You can’t just decide to add a filter of current society standards to something that wasn’t even created in the same decade.
That would be like someone watching a classic B&W film and complaining it’s rubbish because there are no CGI spaceships flying in the background or something.
Um, and since when is having a job a feminist ideal?!
I agree. Princesses do get a bad wrap. I love princesses! Always have, always will. Let children be children and enjoy their childhoods and be allowed to dream, imagine and enjoy. Life is not always easy or kind but damn if I had those princess dresses and shoes (and hot looking men), it might just be easier and a tinge more enjoyable!
I think sometimes adults overthink the stories – to children they are just stories and you are right – they are more likely to think that how their parents behave is the norm than anything else.
We told K she could be anything and do anything she wanted – we regret that because now she has so many options she is battling to make a decision. We should have tried to guide her more according to her interests (which would have been difficult as they have changed so often) but, hind sight is 20/20 isn’t it ?
Have the best week !
By all means the example parents set in the life they live in front of their children has the biggest impact on them.
I liked the recent movie Frozen, SPOILERS! Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know the outcome of Frozen!
The girl in it falls in love at first sight, then realises that is a lot of crap and what she actually felt was lust (they don’t quite put it like that mind you :)), which is pretty accurate, not that lust at first sight cannot turn into love, but this notion of true love when you don’t even know someone is just plain daft.
Then true love has to save her, but it is the love she feels for her sister and her sister for her that saves them both. The men are still important, and one male character in particular is portrayed as kind and heroic, the princesses are beautiful and the main princess does end up in love. But the men are – as they should be – equally important to the plot, not more important or driving the movie. I have to admit that now I am aware of underlying sexism in movies I cannot stop seeing it. It’s like a magic trick, once you know it, it can never be unknown, so I am all for good female role models, right from the beginning, even in cartoons, that don’t rely on meeting a prince to make them happy.
I like princesses fine, but not pathetic ones. I don’t believe for one second that women have ever been different to the way we are now, it’s just that we weren’t writing history books or making movies and didn’t have the power or the money to do the things we wanted to do. We’re getting closer to equality, bit by bit.
Have you head of the Bechdel test? It’s applied to movies and asks three very simple questions. Does the movie have two or more women in it with names? Do they talk to each other? Do they talk to each other about something besides a man for more than 60 seconds? Pretty basic you would think. You really cannot set the bar much lower than that for some sort of fair representation of women in movies. And yet most movies fail.
Now, obviously it’s not a perfect test. And NOBODY is saying anybody should censor or not go to see movies based on it. Movies like the Shawshanks Redemption would obviously fail. And again NOBODY is saying people cannot keep making all the movies they want ignoring half of the population or relegating them to unimportant roles. This is a good link on it. I would highly recommend watching this link as she explains the whole thing in great detail.
Again, it’s not a perfect test, and even if it starts to be applied as a standard, it won’t stop movies being made about anything anyone wants. But it should be a wake up call. To say intelligent, 3 dimensional women are under represented in movies is putting it mildly. And I think that starts right back with Disney and the other Princess tropes.
So, I’m not against Princesses. But let’s have Princesses who are intelligent, who have thoughts apart from men and marriage and who have thoughts, ideas and dreams of their own. And I might add, I think it’s great we are even discussing this. We are moving forwards, and this conversation is proof of that. The more that women have access to decent jobs and lives that don’t rely on men to support them, the more these sorts of discussions will take place. Some people don’t like that. I do.
The times they are a changing 🙂
Yes I’ve noticed that princesses are getting a bad rap lately. All I know is that I loved all things pink, girly and princessy as a little one – did I grow up to rely on a man to rescue me? Hell no! I made my own way in life! Though having said that, I *did* meet my Prince Charming at the ripe old age of 20 and am still married to him all these years later – and yes I do feel like a Princess in a fairy tale come true 🙂
PS Forgot to say, visiting today from #TeamIBOT xxx
My new favourite word today, ugh. I love Disney movies and the whole Peppa Pig thing is ridiculous – why does it have to be about feminism? Why can’t it just be wow she has a job – good on her for being responsible and not scabbing off her parents?
Maybe kids do see the underlying tones but don’t care because they are happy enough to just enjoy it without reading into it, they have plenty of time to form all these ideals as adults.
I’ve re written this comment three times, because I can’t find the right words!!
What’s wrong with princesses and princes and people singing all the time? I think that would be awesome if people did just randomly break out in song constantly. 🙂 I also think that little girls, and little boys should grow up believing in happy ever after, and that it can and does happen. You’re right in saying that we are the role model for our kids. They will learn how to behave based on watching us, so what’s wrong with fairy tales and make believe?
Nothing in my opinion.
If we could all break out into random songs and randomly choreographed dance I think the world would be a much happier place!
I love the Disney Princesses! Actually I think more so that anything else children should indulge wholeheartedly in fairytales, whether it be a princess, a dragon, a transformer or a super hero! We are so hung up about the little things when it comes to social parenting these days I think we are completely missing the bigger picture x
I think reality bites too early for kids these days, a bit of fairy, princess, Tinkerbell magic is what I think being a kid is all about. Dreaming of amazing places, people and prince charmings. It’s not long until kids no longer believe in magic and happy endings, so I try and let them enjoy believing that things can be perfect, because once they grow up they’ll be faced with the facts of life, that it’s not easy! x
I do agree with you that real life role models are a more significant influence on our children than fictional characters. At the same time though, I also know a lot of women who are dissatisfied with their lives because they are not the ‘beautiful princess in a castle’ they always dreamed they’d be. Though perhaps we have celebrity culture to blame for that moreso than Disney? To me it’s not so much a feminist issue, as a ‘fiction’ that life is ‘meant’ to be happily ever after. Things just don’t always work out that way! It is interesting though to see Disney changing tack with Tangled, Brave and especially Frozen. They’ve clearly realised there’s money to be made from empowered heroines 😉
I grew up with the Disney princesses, and idolising real-life princesses, but it certainly hasn’t stopped me from believing in my capacity to achieve big things, or expecting that life only works if someone hands it to me on a platter (although I’ve got to admit that sometimes that would be nice). I see nothing wrong with little girls liking princesses, just so long as they have a balanced approach to what to expect from the world. The fact is that life can be tough enough as it is, so why not let them dream a little while they can.
I love all Disney Princesses.
When I watch those movies, I honestly don’t give a rats if the princess does desperately want a prince to come and save her. Like other people commented, kids are kids. It is only the adults that are over analysing the movies the majority of the time.
Just because you need help or need rescuing doesn’t make you a weak woman. We are all human. And besides that, the majority of Princess stories are set in cultures and/or times where that was the norm in society!
I love your take on it.
Oh they really do get a bad wrap! I grew up loving the Disney Princesses (I still do!) and I think I’ve turned out pretty well?!?!?! I will admit that I’m a bit out of touch with the ‘newer’ princesses/prince/tv characters, but have no doubt I’ll get to know and hopefully love them over the next few years. Our kids are innocent for such a short period of time, personally I want my boys to be exposed to a variety of fairytales, fables, stories and characters. Thank you for writing such a great post!
I think we overthink these shows and movies too much. I love everything and anything Disney. Let kids enjoy these shows without making them more technical than they are. Who wouldn’t want to be rescued or whisked away by a prince??
To be honest I haven’t watched many princess movies lately but we read books and I guess the same could be said for them, I think you are so right however it is the parents the kids get the attitude from we are the ones who can put them right.
I must be so basic, because I just look at the princess movies as sweet entertainment. We saw Frozen the other night, and I do think that the current batch of princesses are pretty strong compared to the ones I watched as a kid.
But I also think it has a lot to do with what kids learn at home, as far as if they see women as independent or not.
As for Peppa Pig, how dare they!!! x
My 3.y.o boy has loved watching tangled since he was 2! No gender stereotypes there. I grew up loving all the Disney princesses, but I don’t see myself now as a helpless princessy type needing to be rescued by my prince charming ideal all the time. I say let the kids hold onto the magic for as long as they can.
YEEEESSSS!!!!! I love this so hard Tegan. I’m so sick of people putting shit on Disney Princesses and saying how bad they are, and feeling like I need to not let the girls be all fairy princess when they love it. I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid when I was little and it hasn’t had any impact on me other than really wishing I could swim better!