Poppet and Pixie love the Disney princesses. They never tire of watching the movies, “reading” the magazines, role-playing various scenes or singing their favourite songs. There is a lot of talk around the Internet whether it’s appropriate for Christians to let their children watch movies that include magic and witches; or if feminist moms’ little girls should be watching movies that convey patriarchal messages where the man is always the hero riding to the rescue; or if, in a world with an unhealthy idea of beauty, little girls should idolise the Disney version of what it means to be pretty.
Look, if you’re that worried, then you might as well throw out your TV, never venture out of your house, and keep your kids away from other children. I tried my best to keep Poppet in the dark about the existence of a certain annoying purple dinosaur, but as soon as she started school, she started singing the theme song and even told me she loved him. It was a dark day in our family.
My point is this: yes, Disney’s princess movies are full of gender stereotypes and questionable elements, but they contain some important lessons too.
So, here is the first in my series of Princess Lessons:
Snow White, the fairest of them all, doesn’t exactly conform to today’s standard of beauty. She’s curvy, and her curves tell my daughters that beauty does not equate to being skinny. She also shows my daughters that they don’t have to be blonde to be beautiful.
Snow White’s stepmother is insanely jealous of Snow White’s beauty, and tries to have her killed. My daughters see that beauty is not necessarily an advantage in life and that it can cause problems for a person: unwanted male attention; unfair assumptions about intelligence, personality, ambitions; and unfair expectations, to list a few.
Snow White is far too trusting. Not all of her choices are bad, though. The seven men she moves in with turn out to be good guys, but trusting an old woman almost gets Snow White killed. Poppet and Pixie are friendly little girls who greet everyone they see. I’m working on getting the “don’t talk to strangers” lesson across.
Snow White isn’t afraid of hard work. Once she moves in with the dwarfs, she cooks for them and keeps their house tidy. My girls need all the encouragement they can get when it comes to tidying their rooms. (Confession time: I am not the most diligent housewife, so perhaps I can stand to learn a thing or two from Snow White as well.)
What are your thoughts on Disney princesses?