Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Another reason to hate Disney

Salon looks at the Disney Princess brand.

"Well, that's the magic of Disney: It's addictive. It's like crack for 5-year-olds."

Of course, the princess myth is longstanding. Transformation has always been at its core, whether from rags to riches, ugly duckling to swan, or girlhood to womanhood.

There's nothing wrong with princesses per se. (My favourite childhood book was A Little Princess.)

But Disney grants this transformation with the magic of costumes and accessories, shortchanging girls on the lessons and realizations historically embedded in the road to princessdom. The liberation of the princess, I might add, was from some real, if metaphorical, hardship — not the mere suffering of inadequate consumerism.

Helena is rather girly. I don't know where she gets it. I don't think it's by example, but I suppose enough of our life together over the last 2 years has centred on food preparation, cleaning up our immediate environments, and getting ourselves dressed that I shouldn't be surprised in her interest in mimicking these behaviours. Helena cares for her dolls (and stuffed bears, and kittens — but the dolls have her favour) the way I've cared for her.

The other day I found her prancing about in my clunky shoes, "wearing" a skirt of mine she'd pulled out of a drawer hiked up to her armpits, one of her hats on her head, purse slung over her shoulder, and wielding a balloon in one hand, a wet wipe poised to clean the door handle in the other.

Pretend play is a wonderful means of creative expression and inspires the imagination. I encourage her play to be balanced in regards to traditional stereotypical roles according to gender.

Helena will always be our little princess. She can explore through play what it is to rule her kingdom — some power, some luxury. She will have to do so without our contributions to Disney's coffers.

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