A few weeks ago, I overheard Tim reading "Sleeping Beauty" to our 3-year-old.
I couldn't help but smile as I eavesdropped on their book reading session. Tim kept adding in commentary every page or two, "...And then - This is crazy! - the prince fell in love with the princess before he even talked with her!"
I've mentioned the Disney Princesses once or twice on my blog and I wanted to clear up a few things:
A. We own almost the entire collection of Disney storybooks, courtesy of a family member. The Lion King. The Jungle Book. The Emperor's New Groove. Aladdin. You-Name-It-and-I-Think-We-Have-The-Book.
B. We have a few Disney princess-themed toys that we've received as gifts. The Disney Princess play phone is a particular hit with both of girls. Yesterday my 3-year-old called Snow White to tell her in no uncertain terms to "NOT EAT THE APPLE FROM THE BAD LADY."
C. My 3-year-old has an absolutely beautiful Cinderella Dress that she likes to dress-up in every once in awhile. Usually, she'll wear it for about 10 minutes...and go to dinner at the castle and fight bad guys (because, apparently, those are the two things that princesses do).
D. We love visiting Disneyland with our girls - such a magical, happy place.
All that to say, we certainly don't have anything against Jasmine, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, and Tiana. In fact, all of them exhibit some very admirable traits in the above stories - goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-sacrifice (those are certainly all qualities that we want our girls to aspire to).
We encourage pretend play and like to let our girls lead the way as their interests develop (with a little bit of guidance sometimes...). Princesses included. :)
The reason that our girls don't know all of the princesses is because they haven't watched the movies and, up until recently, they found the stories to be pretty scary. And I don't blame them. Dragons, witches, spinning wheels, sorcery, and death are pretty heavy subjects for toddlers and preschoolers.
Also - Tim & I aren't particularly fond of the weak, dare-I-say-airheaded characters and dysfunctional relationships that are central to the princess stories. Not to mention the fact that the shows have strong messages about beauty and physical attractiveness as a means to success and as a synonym to good character. I'd rather not go into detail about all that because it's already been written about extensively by others [See: What Disney Princesses teach girls for a brief visual overview].
Summary: We have Disney Princess-themed things in our house. We read the stories. We'll probably eventually watch the movies (and our 3-year-old will probably love them).
That said, we don't actively encourage a fascination with the characters. We also often have conversations about the messages - both positive & negative - that are within the stories. We call a spade a spade and tell our girls when the characters are witless, the plot is unrealistic, or the subtle lessons are harmful.
I don't mind if my girls play princess, but I DO mind if their little minds are filled with pictures of superficial love and super-skinny bodies. When it comes down to it, I'd much rather my girls be riding bikes, painting pictures, baking cookies, and helping people than watching "Snow White." By a long shot.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE DISNEY PRINCESSES?