(This hits my funny bone being that at one time I did think I would be able to "resist the princesses". But alas I am too weak in the face of my daughter's devotion. I have been able to keep the flood at bay by keeping her room decor princess-free, but the damage has already been done I'm sure. har har.)
From the Los Angeles Times
Resist the princesses
Watch that little darling -- corporate Fantasyland has matricide in mind.
March 27, 2008
Mothers of America, Disney wants to destroy you.
You hoped your little girl's Disney princess obsession was harmless, didn't
you? You chuckled over the picture of Sleeping Beauty on your toddler's
pull-ups, and you told yourself it was "just a phase" when your 5-year-old
insisted that she needed at least 63 Disney princess dress-up costumes.
But don't be fooled by the sparkly magic wands, the pint-sized tiaras and
those cute little "animal friends." The Disney princesses aren't sweet and
innocent. They're a gang of vicious hoodlums, and they're plotting against
Start with some light feminist analysis. It will not have escaped you,
Mothers of America, that Disney princesses -- Snow White, Cinderella,
Sleeping Beauty and the rest -- rarely slay dragons, play sports, pilot jets
or do open-heart surgery. Instead, they fiddle with their coiffures, linger
over invitations to the ball, flee ineffectually from evil crones and swoon.
You don't have to be Gloria Steinem to realize that these are not, for the
most part, useful professional skills in today's world. So I was not
thrilled when my 3-year-old informed me, over lunch, that she wants to be "a
pwincess" when she grows up, and I was unhappier still when her 6-year-old
sister expressed a similar ambition.
"Girls," I said, "you can do anything when you grow up! You can be
scientists or ski instructors or hedge fund managers -- I beg you, be hedge
fund managers. Why would you want to be passive, anorexic princesses?"
They looked at me as if I had gone mad. "Because princesses wear pretty
dresses, Mama," they explained.
I tried another tack. "Not all princesses prance around in ball gowns," I
remarked, and showed them some educational photos of Britain's 57-year-old
Princess Anne, clad in hideously sensible tweeds. The girls denied that Anne
was a "real" princess.
I tried again. "Girls," I said gently, "I don't want to shock you, but
historically, princesses have not always been popular. Consider the Russian
Revolution. Or the French. Does the word 'guillotine' ring a bell?"
"You are a commoner!" my 3-year-old shrieked, and adjusting their glittering
tiaras, the little darlings ran off to watch "Disney Princess Enchanted
Tales" for the 10-billionth time while I glumly cleaned the kitchen.
It was not always thus.
Sure, fairy tales have been around for centuries, little girls have always
liked pretty dresses, and even most of the Disney princesses should, if
there were justice in the world, be using Botox by now. (Disney's Snow White
was a teen in the 1937 film, which would put her well into her 80s). But
once upon a time, the Disney princesses lived their separate lives, waiting
innocuously for their princes to come. You could buy a "Cinderella" book or
a "Little Mermaid" doll, but, when you did so, you were establishing an
allegiance to a particular character's story, not to an abstract "Princess
concept." The princesses lived separately and were marketed separately.
As Peggy Orenstein documented in a 2006 New York Times Magazine article,
that changed in 2000, when Disney decided that, henceforth, the princesses
would collude. They went from princesses to "Princess" -- as Disney execs
call the fast-growing product line marketed collectively under just that
logo. Merged into a sort of uber-princess, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and the
older members of the gang formed a vast global conspiracy to turn a bunch of
aging animated films into cold, hard cash -- faster than Cinderella's fairy
godmother could turn a pumpkin into a coach.
Like an Al Qaeda sleeper cell, the princesses were activated -- and once
activated, they would quickly dominate the world. In 2001, sales at Disney
consumer products were a lethargic $300 million. By 2007, Disney's
"Princess" franchise was raking in $4 billion. And who could stand in its
way? With the "Princess" brand on baby bottles, sneakers, pencils, candy,
T-shirts, everything, you and your little darlings don't stand a chance,
Mothers of America. Your little girls will be brainwashed -- and you -- you
Ah, yes. What happens to you?
You didn't think Disney was going to stand idly by while you engaged in
those little feminist critiques, did you now? Pause for a moment to consider
the fate of the princesses' mommies in those Disney movies. "Cinderella" and
"Snow White"? Mothers killed off by mysterious illnesses. "Beauty and the
Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin"? Mothers all missing; presumed
Disney really has it in for mommies: Even when you leave princess-land, it's
the same pattern. Bambi's mom? Shot dead by a hunter. Nemo's mom? Eaten by a
barracuda. Of all the major princesses, only Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a. Aurora;
like all criminals, she often goes by an alias) has a nuclear family, not
that it does her any good. But given Disney's track record, I wouldn't want
to underwrite her mother's life insurance policy.
And hey, ever notice how, in group photos, the Disney princesses never, ever
meet each other's eyes? Why won't they look at each other? Why do they still
pretend they don't know each other? Is something troubling their
Mothers of America, watch your backs.