So You Want to Be a Disney Princess…

Regardless of if you are a mom or not, I’m sure you are no stranger to the Disney Princess debate.  Are these princesses such horrifying role models for our daughters?  Well, major product overload aside, I’m not so sure.

I grew up with the princesses too. I checked out Sleeping Beauty every time we went to the video store.  I wanted my hair to be long because it was princess hair.  I believed that I probably was a princess because I lived in Aurora and Princess Aurora was my favorite princess.  I sang “Part of Your World” at the top of my lungs over and over while swinging in the backyard.  I was some sort of princess, Disney or otherwise, every single year for Halloween.

Somehow, despite my princess love, I grew up to be a smart, confident, hard-working woman.  I think that has a lot to do with how my parents raised me, and very little to do with watching princess movies as a child.  Now I have daughters of my own to raise, and the princesses have already landed.

The only princess movie the girls have seen so far is Tangled.  I believe they are too young to really relate to the storylines of most of the princess movies, so we watch things that I believe are more age-appropriate for two-and-a-half year olds.  Still, the girls have a collection of 8 princess dolls that they got from their uncle for Christmas.  In our house, Rapunzel is called Punzel or Mother.  Snow White is also Mother  Jasmine is Mommy.  Belle is also Mommy.  Ariel and Sleeping Beauty are Titi (my sister), and Cinderella & Tiana are Blue Daddy and Green Daddy respectively.  (Cinderella and Tiana have “short hair” like Daddy.  Hence, they are daddies.)

While I think the girls are too young for most of these movies right now, I love a lot of the Disney Princess movies and want to share them with my daughters.  I believe strongly that there is more to a lot of the princesses than being rescued or wearing pretty dresses.  So, Charlotte & Evelyn, if you want to be a Disney Princess…

I hope you will be like Belle and love to read and see the beauty in others.

I hope you will belike Cinderella and be kind even when other are not kind to you.

I hope you will be like Ariel and want to learn about other cultures, dream big, and believe you can go anywhere.

I hope you will be like Jasmine and love who you choose to love, fight for the rights of others, and stand up against laws that deny human rights.

I hope you will be like Rapunzel and follow your dreams, break out and see the world, and take care of yourself while doing it.

I hope you will be like Mulan and be brave enough to be who your truly are, never let being a girl stop you, and maybe even save China.

I also hope that you can have long princess hair, pretty dresses, and a handsome prince if that’s what your heart desires.  Just know that those things may be part of who you are, but they will never be all that you are.

Now, I’m not saying that these princesses are perfect role models, but do you know any perfect role models?  Honestly, I’m not looking for these characters to be role models for my daughters.  I would hope that I could be their role model.  Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t love their stories.  Just like I love Nancy Drew’s stories.  Just like I love Harry Potter.  I love a good story.  Some stories have deep lessons to teach us, others don’t.  I truly believe that what our daughters and sons learn from these stories depends on us.

So, my sweet girls, go ahead and be a Disney Princess if that’s what you want…but maybe be a little bit like your Mama too.

Comments

  1. Ari says:

    Beautifully written, I love this. Not having kids, I hadn’t thought how people looked at princesses but you’re right, there are many deeper aspects to them that we can appreciate.

  2. Audrey says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I get so weary of the anti-princess debate, and this is why. Sure, fairy tales aren’t realistic, not everybody gets their prince, etc., but….isn’t that kind of the point? To tell a good story that brings happiness to our non-picture-perfect lives? I love me some Disney princesses, and I don’t think growing up watching those movies had a negative effect on my personal strength/independence at all. Honestly, I think what I took away from those stories more than anything else was the importance of being kind, open-minded, honest, and courageous.

    (And since they — and my parents — taught me to be kind, I’m able to resist the temptation to buy nothing but princess gear for daughters of those who are outspoken about being anti-princess. Which is really saying something, because that temptation is very strong.)

  3. This is so great! <3

  4. Cait says:

    AMEN. The ‘lessons’ you want your girls to learn from these movies are exactly the lessons I learned watching them. Maybe they instilled a little too much “Prince Charming” fantasy in my head, but not enough that it hindered my ability to become a strong, independent woman.

  5. Natasha says:

    I loved the Disney princess, especially Ariel and Belle. When I watched Beauty and the Beast as a child, I always thought of Belle as this wonderful girl with a love of reading and a heart so big, she could turn even a beast into a man and love him unconditionally. Sure, all the princesses had prince charmings, but they were also very brave and very smart.

  6. Brandon says:

    Great post. I’ve wrestled with the idea of showing our girls princess movies because I’ve grown tired of the princess entitlement that some have developed. But as you wrote, this has more to do with parenting than watching a movie. I’ve watched action movies growing up and someone have avoided becoming a violent person. The media doesn’t determine the individual.

    Also when they’re teenagers, they’ll sleep like Aurora.

  7. San says:

    I think you have a great attitude towards princesses :)
    My niece (4) also loves everything “princess” and I don’t think that makes her any less likely to grow up to be a strong and independent woman.
    Kids should be able to “live” and enjoy phantasy land. Reality is going to be there soon enough.

  8. Michelle says:

    I have had so many thoughts about the princesses through the years – I’d read a piece describing Belle as a horrible role model for girls because of her “stockholm syndrome”, but I’d never seen it that way, nor did I think it meant that I needed to tame the cursed, screamy, angst ridden, entitled beast of a man as my life’s purpose.

    I loved Ariel, not because she defied her father, but because she followed her heart. I never once thought of her as a role model because she chased after a man against her father’s wishes, and causing giant Ursula. If anything, I learned to never trust a sea-witch. Or a Jamaican crab. Nark. ;)

    Truly, parents must teach their children life lessons, and not use Disney movies to do it for them. Sure, use Disney movies as a starting point, but not as the lesson itself. Duh.

  9. katelin says:

    i couldn’t agree with you more, love this.

  10. Teacher Girl says:

    Loved this! I think you put a very positive spin on the Disney Princess debate and your perspective seems right on to me. I hope your princesses are doing well!

  11. Kathleen says:

    This really touched me, thanks Erin!

  12. Ti says:

    Love. Love. Love.

  13. Kaci Johanna says:

    Erin, this is beautiful. I’ll be sharing it with my nieces!

  14. Lisa says:

    Love this so much. Especially this line — “Just know that those things may be part of who you are, but they will never be all that you are.” — you know I want to fist-pump and shout that one from the rooftops.

  15. Kerri W. says:

    Oh, Erin, this is such a perfect post. Thank you for writing this—it’s also something I’ve thought about a lot since my daughter was born. I hear so many disparaging remarks about little girls loving princesses, and it’s nice to hear a perspective that is much less harsh. I, too, grew up watching Disney movies and dreaming of being a princess. You listed all the wonderful things I want my own daughter to take from these stories—not just the pretty dresses and the romantic moments. :)

  16. Bee says:

    You have described how I feel about my Charlotte and Disney Princesses. She loves, loves, loves princesses. And I want her to take away all the things you described from her princess movies and stories. You hit the nail on the head about role models- I’m her mother- I spend more time with her than any other female in her life (at this time), and I am her greatest influence.
    I absolutely believe that parenting can create a sense of entitlement without the princess influence.

  17. Nora says:

    Love so much about this. Great post (And lots of food for thought, too!)

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