In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"I only like princesses."

Dear Aunt Debbie,

The Fairy's Return is next on our list of chapter books after The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.  Eleanor really likes the cover, natch.  I'm glad to know that it's a little post-modern (though what else would I expect from the woman who bought me the anthology Stories for Free Children?).  In the last month or so, Eleanor has been hitting the princess obsession hard, and it's driving me a little crazy.

We've written before (here and here, among other places) about the inescapable allure of princess stories, and the ways in which the Disney machine has commodified what might have started as a natural interest into a full-scale kid lifestyle.  Eleanor's 4th birthday brought a host of new princess products into our house (mostly courtesy of her friends, who got her what she asked for), and with them and the post-birthday letdown has come a period of trying behavior.  At preschool, she told one of her teachers that she was bored with Circle Time and only wanted "to talk about princesses."  Coming home last week, she was asked by a neighbor if she liked cats: "No, I only like princesses."  It doesn't seem to matter to her that this isn't objectively true: the Doctor Dolittle she's so heavily into right now is about the farthest thing possible from a princess story, and over the weekend she had a great time at the Brooklyn Children's Museum watching sea anemones, then painted a pretty awesome underwater scene featuring a jellyfish.  But there's something about the marketing of Disney Princess that has infiltrated the way she conceptualizes what she is, and should be, interested in.

In short, I am the target audience for Peggy Orenstein's new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter.  I bought it this weekend at our local independent bookstore after reading Eleanor yet another godawful flat story from a Disney Princess Golden Book.  (Our bargain is that I'll read them to her in the store or the library, but we won't take them home because they're badly written.)  I'm only a couple of chapters in, but let me tell you, Orenstein speaks to my soul.  She's recycling some of the material that has appeared in the NYT magazine over the last decade (I linked to my favorite of her pieces here), and has expanded and added new iterations of the same basic idea: Yes, your experience as a parent that girls' choices of what to play with and how to play are being steadily pinkened and narrowed is correct.  This is what's happening, and it may seem fairly innocent, but it's actually kind of scary.  I am filled with righteous outrage!

And so again, what do I do about it?

My mother-in-law gave Eleanor a new alternate-princess book for her birthday, and she's been enjoying it.  Babette Cole's Princess Smartypants is written in the mode of The Paper Bag Princess.   In this story, Princess Smartypants wants to hang out with her monster pets and stay single ("She enjoyed being a Ms.") rather than marry any of her many suitors.  She sets them all impossible tasks, then watches happily as they fail.  Then Prince Swashbuckle shows up.  He seems a good match for her -- he too can roller-disco till dawn -- but when he passes all her tests, she turns him into a toad with a magic kiss and gets to live happily alone again. 

On the one hand, I like the humor here, and the reversal of expectations, and Princess Smartypants's overalls and monsters.  On the other, her name bugs me: "Smartypants," in my experience, isn't a positive thing to be called.  (Did I mention that several of the princess-y things Eleanor got for her birthday were made by a brand called "Klutz"?)  Also, she's kind of a jerk to Prince Swashbuckle, who looks a little smarmy but just does what she's asked him to do. 

Reading this book, among all the others, makes me wonder what I'm really looking for.  Do I want a better model of princess, or just less princess in general?  Am I overreacting to what will turn out to be a nice little pre-feminist stage?  Thank goodness for Isabel's taste in books and products, which has lately expanded from dog ("Aaa-ooooo!") to monkey ("Mun-kee!").  Animals feel like such a relief.

Love, Annie


  1. When I'm helping KG girls pick books, and all the princess ones are gone, I can often lure girls into taking books home with ballerinas or ice skaters. Apparently it's the dress that really makes a girl a princess.

    Even nonfiction books, which are fun for me to read. Or fun books like Angelina Ballerina.

  2. I love Princess Smartypants! Do you know Cornelia Funke's Princess Pigsty and Do Princesses Where Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle. They're two other great alterna-princess books you might enjoy. I've got reviews up on my site.

  3. @Beth -- yes, Eleanor likes ballerina books too. I think tutus are part of the same pinkness.

    @Jessica -- I love Funke, but don't know that one, or the other you mention. They're going on my library list now. Thanks!

  4. When I was a little girl I really enjoyed Princess movies and the whole Disney scene and I still do to this day. Ariel was my favorite Princess because she had red hair just like me and I thought it was so cool that this beautiful Princess had the same colour hair as I did. It truly made me feel prettier and I did idolize her. However I honestly think that it is a phase of liking Princesses all the time. Its like little boys looking up to super heros. It gives little girls someone to look up to. And the thing I like about disney is that most of the Princesses weren't originally Princesses to start with. I really like the movie Princess and the Frog because she wasn't falling all over the Prince when she met him for the first time like most of the Princess do. She was so focused on opening her restaurant and she didn't want any boys to get in the way of that. I think it puts a new age spin on a classic story.
    I really liked your article!!

    Jenna :)

  5. Disney princesses are a huge phase in todays society. Girls are pushed towards the stories of princesses and are taught to act like them. They idolize them because its a fantasy to want to be like them. Growing up I had a life size doll that my great grandfather gave me. It had attachable wheels on its feet so I could dance with it. It wasn't a notable princess but just a ballerina with a sparkly dress. The idea of it being a princess was what was so interesting to me. It had a beautiful dress and long luscious hair. I could relate to it more because at that time I was also taking ballet classes. I think that what you are looking for is a better array of princess that have better morals to the stories or are a better role models for a realistic life. Even if there weren't princesses, society would create an alter idea that would have a similar meaning behind it. The princess fantasy is an idealistic approach for young girls but perhaps the creators need to come up with better models.


  6. I think being a princess is something that every little girl contemplates and hopes to be. The thing that draws these girls in is the fancy clothes and the glamourous lifestyle. I think society needs a better model of princesses, not less. Jenna raises a great point about the latest Disney Princess movie. I think the submissive sleeping beauty waiting for a man to rise to the occasion and change her life is somewhat of a thing of the past. Princesses these days should still have the glamour and the beauty of being royal and special, but that shouldn't be where there power and allure starts and finishes; they should be better role models and have more challenging goals than how to get to a party and home before midnight.


  7. ...Well, I'm a bit biased. I loved princesses growing up, there's something about that fantasy that just gets me. I mean, while they aren't the BEST models for kids, they certainly aren't the worst. I mean, I'd rather have my daughter look up to a Disney princess than to Paris Hilton. I feel like in recent years, too, they've been trying to make the princesses from more realistic backgrounds (i.e. Princess and The Frog). I mean, sure, maybbbe it instills in us some less-than-noble values, like getting married is crucial, etc. etc. - but really, I think we just liked the story as kids. We liked the fantasy of dressing up in sparkling jewels and having a handsome gentleman sweeping us off our feet.

  8. As I am reading the blog tonight and the various responses, I am caught by needing to take a moment and examine what a princess is. In fact, I had a class tonight and on the long drive home I thought quite a bit about it. A princess is good looking, someone with an unlimited, GORGEOUS wardrobe and a stellar jewelry collection, someone other people look up to, someone who has the ability to give orders and someone who it is an imperative to listen to. It is impossible to separate who a princess is, from who a princess longs to be. From history to Disney, the story ends the same (in most cases) with the princess getting married, or at least finding the right beau. But, throughout all of this, I have come to see a princess as a young woman who is good looking and powerful. Not just powerful, but benevolently revered.
    Perhaps princess worship in young girls is the ultimate, first I-feminist moment: I want to look great, inspire, have authority and be heard; I want to fall in love with a hot dude-is there ever a book where a princess finds a princess, or a princess is disabled-and get married, or at least be really satisfied with finding the right dude; I want power; I want happiness. Is it easier to say I want to be a princess? Maybe young girls cannot say, Mom, I want it all: I want to be the boss and I want to be beautiful, and I want to be in love. The problem is, of course, what happens if and when those things do not all happen. You are not powerful. You are not beautiful. You are not heard. You are not in charge. You are not in love. I think this is where writers and researchers like Orenstein and Simmons come in. It is important that we interrogate the implications of all this princess stuff. Why should we care about clothes and jewelry so much? Why do we have to be so impossibly good looking, and why must we fall in love? (Yet, falling in love-at least in my experience-has been super fun.)
    Maybe being a princess is synonymous with wanting power in all the ways that young children perceive power, especially girls. Maxine Greene, the marvelous educational philosopher, tell us in The Dialectic of Freedom that “One never entirely overcomes the effects of gender or race, never achieves an entirely equitable public space—instead, one learns to struggle with the determining forces of one’s culture while working with the situated reality of one’s circumstances.” I am with Eleanor, the princess is way more interesting than the cat, and this sums up the dilemma of the young girl very nicely.
    We need to continue our vigilance.
    We need to write more books.
    Ann F.

  9. I know for a fact that I called myself a princess for a good part of my toddler years. I kid you not, I wore only princess-like dresses for one month until my mother finally decided that she had enough. To this day I can't particularly tell you what was going through my head during this "phase" but I can say that all princesses had a girly allure to them. The fact that they were beautiful, had happy endings, wore amazing dresses, etc. was something that every little girl wants. Although it is unrealistic for a little girl coming from Illinois to become a princess, it was something that I wanted... BADLY. Although some may not like this fact Princesses and little girls is not a theme that will go away. From when I was little in 1993 to the little girl on Modern Family's princess birthday party, every little girl wants to be a princess. Although I still enjoy a good princess story here and there when I am babysitting, I do feel that princesses should be portrayed differently. Perhaps with less of a spoiled, pretentious attitude or something of the source. Maybe more realistic or rateable for young girls, but overall, I love you article and I know that my mom was thinking the exact same things.


  10. It's great to hear so many responses on this topic. I agree with a lot of what's being said here: Yes, it is important to have different kinds of princess stories and princesses as role models who don't fall into the Damsel in Distress mode. Belle and Tiana are certainly more strong-willed than some of their predecessors (though Tiana spends 3/4 of the movie as a frog). And yes, there is something fine and lovely about the innocence of princess as opposed to the sexualized Paris Hilton/Britney/whoever models of rich young womanhood that are out there.

    What Orenstein does well in her book,though, is to explore how the concept of Princess, when it becomes ubiquitous, can lead to a variety of pitfalls:
    1) Creating little materialistic consumers (I want I want I want every princess product)
    2) Equating beauty with a single image and color palette -- there is only one way to be beautiful, and it is to wear pink and sparkly dresses.
    3) Setting girls up to move seamlessly into the very sexualization that Princess promises to hold off, as they are trained to want what everyone else has and to focus enormous amounts of attention on being "beautiful."
    4) Limiting girls' choices (you can ONLY find pink products) while spouting double-speak about how girls are choosing to play princess on their own, and marketers are only giving them what they ask for.

    It's this limitation of choice, this Everyone Must Play the Same Game, that bothers me most.

  11. This is a great discussion.

    I think what bothers me the most about the overwhelming princess culture aimed at young girls is its passivity. Princesses are loved because they're 1) beautiful and well-dressed and usually 2) nice. They were either born a princess, or became one because they were chosen by a prince. Princessness is a fate, not an accomplishment. These women don't set out to mold and control their futures. Look at the lesson of Mirette which Annie wrote about Feb. 21, where she works hard to master a skill which changes her life. The message of being a princess isn't one of shaping your life, it's a message that if you're nice you'll be taken care of.

  12. I feel like some children may take princesses to great extremes and feel the need to obsess about them, however I don't think it's necessarily the princesses that make them this way. After all, the majority of young girls aren't taking princesses to extreme, they just idolize them and adore them the same way I did when I was younger. Perhaps it's just part of a phase. Maybe the reason that some children become so obsessed with princesses and think they dominate all aspects of life is because they could be lacking a sense of control in other aspects of their lives--or maybe too much control? Princesses=imagination=creativity=growth. Princesses may not be for all children though. Some people take things further than others, and I feel like this is just another one of those situations.

  13. Girls may be obsessed with princesses, but is it the same as guys being obsessed with superheroes and GI-JOs? I think the issue is not as much as girls needed to be separated from princesses, but the expectations and norms of young kids to be broken down. Instead of teaching and only suggesting dolls to your girl, expose her to Legos and toys of other nature. The main issue is also the type of doll kids are playing with now a days. Bratz girls are not acceptable for a teenager to even play with. Tiny skirts and cropped tops with bulging boobs, this exposes kids at a young age of what they should and want to look like. No one looks like that and NO one should dress like that.
    We need to change how our kids are being taught to play.

    Joanie davis

  14. we are dreading the princess onslaught in our house. on the other hand, caleb and I recently saw "turandot," the classic puccini opera, which features a princess who kills men who don't answer her riddles correctly.

    when prince swashbuckle (er, sorry, his name in the opera is the ridiculous Calaf, the Unknown Prince) comes along and answers her riddles correctly, she tortures and kills his loyal servant to try to avoid making good on her side of the deal.

    then Caloofus kisses her, and somehow this makes everything better.

    as Caleb said, "Huh?"

    at least the disney princesses are somewhat lower on the torture/execution scale ...

  15. When I was growing up, all my mother ever wanted was for me to play with princesses; rather, I cut off all the shiny blond hair from my barbies and played kickball with all the boys in my elementary school. So I guess it's good that your daughter isn't the tom-boy that my mother got and never wanted, however I do have to say you have valid points about what ideas toys can instill in children. The fairy tale ending is something that everyone hopes for-- at two, at seven, at sixteen, at thirty years old-- it is something that keeps our sense of imagination alive. However, it is not the "fairy tale ending" that is worrisome but the lack of independence and individualism and focuses on boys and being pretty and dressed to impress. Children are now looking to constantly buy the newest doll (I know from experience with a six year old cousin) which is a continuous reminder of how little children are becoming more materialistic and concerned with what others think. I know that if my little cousin got caught carrying around a non-hip doll while the other "cool girls" were carrying around the latest and greatest frilly pink doll she'd leave kindergarten crying, insisting on her absence from school until she got a doll that was bigger and better. Although all young girls realize that their prince charming is not waiting around the corner, it is a shame that girls are taught that they should still wear make up, be skinny, always be girly, work in the house and always rely on a man. Now at 18 I still remember a song from when I was 9 from the movie "Life Size" in which Tyra Banks is a barbie doll brought to life. Her theme song? "Eve's great, no matter where she goes! Dress her up, from her head to her toes! On the town, at the mall Eve loves high fashion!.." Verbatim I can remember the materialist anthem from when I was the most impressionable as a kid which proves that the ways of barbie dolls do not teach kids the ideas and morals that are truly important. I say give up the dolls and go play on the playground!

    - Lindsay

  16. Hmmm, I have to beg to differ on the limitation of choice idea. Girls can still buy/ask for/play with all the items boys do. I also think the influence of parents is far more important than that of the princess-culture. Of course, no child, unless they are locked in an ivory tower (irony intended) can escape it entirely, but I think parents win out in the end, especially if they instill their values early.

    The other side to this is, I truly believe it's 90% nature (at least!) and 10% nurture. That may seem to contradict what I just said, so let me explain. I think MOST (not all) girls tend to have a maternal impulse. At 15 months my older daughter would wheel her Ernie doll around in a toy stroller and lift the canopy every few minutes to check on him. Both my girls say they want to grow up to be mommies (I remind them they can be mommies AND something else, just like me!). They like to pick out their own clothes and put together "beautiful" outfits. But while they love accessories, they are not princess-obsessed (hope I didn't just jinx myself!) and I have no fear that they think appearances are more important than internal qualities and values. (As I was writing this, my younger one just yelled, "I want pretty barettes.")

    I also think the consumerism that is encouraged provides a perfect opportunity to teach your kids a lesson - by saying no. Again and again and again.

    I don't think that girls are learning to rely on men or not think for themselves because of this culture - look at rising rates of women in college, etc.

    Finally, my husband read an article (I don't know where or by whom) that stated that girls at this age (3-6) tend to be princess-obsessed because this is an age when they are working out their gender identity, which is developmentally appropriate, differentiating themselves from boys, etc., and that the princess-juggernaut has capitalized on this and thus reinforced it. I think princess culture or not, little girls have always gone through a phase where they "think boys are yucky" and the like. Is this culture encouraging them to work out a gender identity which consists of helplessness and physical beauty only? I'd say no to the first and to the second, that's reinforced by the way supermodels, actresses, etc. look as well.

    Finally, I think dolls/pretend play are a really important part of child development. My girls focus much more on the pretend play side of things, with the occasional doll as a prop. However, sometimes a doll is just a doll.

    Bottom line: princess culture has some negative aspects but I don't think it is teaching my girls dependence. I think my teaching them (and modeling for them) that women can be married and mothers and work is way more important. But I also think girls are inherently different from boys and always will be.

  17. Guy who is married to Even in AustraliaFebruary 24, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    @Even In Australia: Re Annie's "Disney machine has commodified what might have started as a natural interest into a full-scale kid lifestyle." I believe this was in the article I now cannot remember as well, that some Disney exec had an epiphany to take what had previously been a home/crafty interest in princesses, industrialize it, spit it back at little girls, and make literally billions of dollars.

  18. Growing up I always wanted to be a princess because they were the beautiful ones. They were the ones who always got the "Price Charming". It seemed that princesses had it all. I dressed in princess clothes and watched all the movies. It wasn't until I was older that I began to see the faults in the princess stories. In almost all of them the princess needed to be saved by the prince. Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, even Cinderella from her evil family. None of the princesses were mentioned as being educated just vulnerable and beautiful. One thing I did notice at a young age was that none of the Disney princesses were African American until they came out with a new movie last year. That bothered me for a long time. I do agree that Disney needs to change up the stereotypical princess into something with more attention to independence, education, and not always being the victim having to be saved by a boy.

    Alli H

  19. The influence that the media and books have over the young minds of America is huge. I found it very interesting how the brands of some items are demeaning towards women, for example, the brand name Klutz that produces princess themed dress up clothes. It has never crossed mind before, until after taking this course, how offensive products intended for girls can be. Young children are easily influenced to think and believe certain things and what they read and play with can have a huge effect on how the perceive themselves. When girls play with toys with a demeaning brand-name and or read books with titles that make being a smart educated woman appear to be a bad ambition, it is hard to stop social constructs from controlling the way they perceive their role in society. It is important that we combat these social influences/constructs in order to allow young girls to decide their future ambitions and goals.

    Whitney W

  20. When I was little I never really went through a princess faze. Though I did love Ariel, but not because of being a princess, I was more jealous about her being half a fish. I was sucked in by Barbie, which at any rate I believe can be just as bad. In both princesses and Barbie, there is always needs to be something that completes them. The princesses need their prince charming and Barbie needs her car, her perfect house, even her man. These are making girls believe they must rely on other things to have the "perfect" or "ideal" life that is portrayed through this advertising. There needs to be a new message, one where girls can be successful, smart, and pretty, without needing a prince charming. But when turning down this prince charming, there does not have to be a "it's because I am better than you" message.

    Marissa M

  21. When I was younger I never really loved princesses. I was all about the Bratz who worked for a magazine and had this Barbie type boss that they hated because she was mean. There were no prince charmings or princesses. However, I was a different child and I am a different kind of girl. As a youth, you find interest in things that attract you and for most girls it is Barbie and Princess. I believe girls should enjoy it while it will last. It's the little things like princess books, movies, and dress up that makes childhood fun. However, I believe that children should learn that a fairy tale is just a fairy tale. It is not how reality works. Princesses were made for entertainment. If getting a child to learn this means changing the stereotypical barbie then there is a lot of work to be done. I personally don't see anything wrong with the princess fairy tales because I have a baby cousin that used to be madly in love with princesses. The whole family would buy her everything she asked for and for a long time it was her focus, but once she started going to school she started realizing what she truly enjoyed. She likes wearing pants and hates dress up. I'm just glad she had the luxury of having the princess experience in her childhood.

  22. I grew up having two sisters and my mom grew up having two sisters. I have gone to an all girls camp in the summer for 8 years. So at least for me I have grown up surrounded by girls. At one point I think we owned one of every American Doll and all their accessories that go along with it. I had also seen every Disney Princess movie multiple times. Therefore, it was very interesting for me to read an excerpt from Cinderella Ate My Daughter because a lot that she talked about I had never thought about before. Princesses and dolls were what I grew up with and I do not see anything wrong with that. I do not think looks are everything and I think that is because of the environment I grew up. I grew up learning how to see different beauty in everyone and I believe that is very important.

  23. I think that the crippling paradox that so many parents face today is the fact that they want to push the agenda and teach their daughters lessons of sexual equality while using out-dated materials to teach their 'curriculum'. These fairy tales that Disney Princesses are based on stories, legends and myths that were said to have occurred centuries ago. But it was in this past century when most major sex equality campaigns gained success within our Western society. Although our society claims to have advanced in general equality, mainstream media is still persistent on continuing to paint the picture of our old society, which is completely wrong. I am 13 years older than my baby sister and I was able to watch her growth with a somewhat analytic view. It amazed me how easy it was for my parents to accidentally constrain my sister into the role of "daddy's little [hypersensitive] princess". It was astonishing to see my parents push her to play with dolls rather than the Tonka trucks that she would spend hours playing with. Even though the princess paradox is out-dated, it can still play a role in today's society but evidently that role needs to be drastically redefined. An excellent example is one my childhood favourites is Robert Munch’s ‘The Paper Bag Princess’. The reason being is we as a society have yet to come up with OUR definition of femininity.
    Kurtis B

  24. I think giving children the idea that only certain toys are designated for girls or boys is straight wrong. The marketing behind it is huge too! Once you use gender to designate who can play with what it takes away from the purpose of kids being kids. Play time is play time, sharing is caring, all that good stuff flies out the window once you tell a little girl "girls shouldn't play like that" or "No, boys aren't supposed to like dolls. What this princess propaganda does is make kids believe there is strict rules on how to behave, play, talk, and interact with others. I am not saying it is outrageous if you let your daughter play princess when she wants to, but there should be a point where you hold back on all the glitter and glamour and let your kid decide what THEY want to play with. Based on the small bits from "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" I would say it is on parents to control what material their children intake. Is it hard? Yes! Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is probably in every classroom Kindergarten to grade 6. However, explaining to your child in any way possible that they don't only have to identify as Snow White or one of the seven dwarves is crucial. If your son wants to be a ballerina, princess, fairy, or butterfly let him! If your daughter wants to be an athlete, fireman, spiderman, super hero, or whatever just let her. Being a kid is about exploring and enjoying life as you figure out who you are. Parents walk by there kids as they embark on this journey, they don't shut them down at every unfamiliar crossroad.


  25. Cinderella Ate My Daughter is really an interesting concept to me because there are so many points to be made with the one concept of princesses. Girls grow up idolizing princesses because they should, but it is frowned upon for boys to like them too. The feminist movement today is viewed as fighting for the rights of women--the power of women. It is viewed as the fight for girl=boy... when really it is female=male. It is hard to fight in high heels, just as it is hard to opening love princesses when you are raised with sports. The feminist movement is fighting for equal power, but also equal freedom. It is not rare to see women who love to play basketball, but it is incredibly rare to see men dressed in sequence. This is only hidden, though. The front of feminism is that women want more rights, when really we want to create open minds in the new generation.


  26. My parents gave me a mix of so-called boys' and girl's toys when I was young. They also incorporated many "blank" toys suck as wooden blocks and coloring books with gender neutral themes. I'm really grateful for this choice, because it meant that my imagination was stretched and I was always ok with being independent and coming up with stories on my own. Had I been given the Disney stories earlier like the kids in "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," I think I would have based my ideas off of them. However, one thing I have realized is that as I read books later in life, I become fully entranced in those and begin to fantasize along those lines. I think no matter what age one is introduced, their brain wanders down the paths of stories they hear and plots they learn.This is not necessarily bad, but it is important to develop the early independence and imagination that comes from the acceptance of all interests and tastes instead of a preconceived standard.

    I do agree with the author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" when she says that boys may be more limited in their interests than girls. We are currently in a time of "girl power" and the growth and acceptance of equality, but I believe it is lacking when it comes to expectations for boys and men. Many are all to proud to show off their little girl dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, playing with her race cars. However, not as many would proudly show their little boys wearing pink and playing dolls. There is an extreme double standard that has not been fully addressed yet. It will continue to alter boys' developmental skills as their interests are less accepted.

    -Matti F.

  27. This seems to be a very touchy topic because every parent has exposed their son or daughter to the "fictional world" in which they should be. Reading chapter two of Cinderella ate my Daughter, I was met with alot of great ideas that i have never thought of before. Disney as a whole doesnt seem like a bad company, i guess until you observe what their doing to children. But there are pros and cons. Girls grow up watching princesses and playing with dolls. I think this isn't to make them into modern day damsel in distresses. Its to show them proper etiquette, how a lady should carry themselves. On the down side, it makes girls think they have to find a "prince" and they have to clean or take care of the house. There has never been a princess that went to school or became a business woman or a woman of power. Disney isn't the enemy, parents just have to explain to their kids the truth while letting them enjoy the fiction.

    -Diago Quinn

  28. I think this is a touchy topic because every parent has done it. After reading chapter two of Cinderella ate my Daughter, I learned why there's such a problem. The example used was Disney. I thought Disney was harmless but now i see the pros and cons of this "princess" figure. I think the disney movies like Cinderella show girls proper ediquette and how to carry themselves. However, They install an idea that they have to clean or take care of the house. Theres never been a disney movie when the girl became a successful business woman or went to school. I think its up to the parents to teach their kids whats right and whats fiction.

    - Diago QQuinn

  29. I wasn't that kid who got Disney princesses dolls, so I did not necessary go through that phase. Coming to the US, it is kind of shocking to find out that little kids a obsessed(don't know if that is the right way to put it) with disney princess toys and the concept of being called a princess. I think parents do that just to protect the innocence of the kids, and try not to expose them to the outside world. I don't think Disney is necessarily the blame for the idea of "princess" in kids brain, but the parents buying these dolls. These dolls are kind of teaching little girls what to be and how to act instead letting them choose for theirselves. Girls should be aloud to become themselves instead of being put in this imaginary box of how to be the perfect girl or princess.

    - Abena B.

  30. This is a very sensitive topic that you would have a difficult time experiencing with your child. On one hand you would want to expose your daughter to things like Cinderella to expose her to feminine qualities and glamour. However this is a nurture construct that has the downfall of showing to young girls that they don't have the ability to stand on their own two feet and a man must come along to save them. I don't think it's a bad idea to show your young child Cinderella because I think it can be used as a teaching instrument to explain to your child that there are things that are wrong with it and to instill a sense of empowerment.

  31. I do believe that the princess culture has been conflicted with children's own personal personalities. However, it is not something that should not be existing. There is always going to be an expectation from the society to the children about how they should perform and what they should be like in the future. Therefore, princess culture, in my consideration, is just one form of it. This culture might be too strong and affecting people too much. What the society should do the less this kind of culture by using other kind of expectations. The new Disney movie Frozen for me seems to be a sign of changing and new attempts of the Disney patterns. Rather than focusing on the love between princess and the hero, it focuses more on the love and relationship between the princess sisters. It shows the possibility of changing in the princess culture and the fact that the society is working on their expectation given to their children.

    Bill R.

  32. Disney’s princess model has changed over time. From the snow-white image in last century to the latest rebellious princess Anna in Frozen, Disney tries to fit in the current era without too much of creativity. Before the company’s princess promotion came out in the early 21th century, these princesses model had a far less impact on modern children. The idea of no matter how miserable one’s life is, as long as she is good looking and has an extremely high toleration about all the suffering she has been through (ex. Snow White, Ariel). As the social role of women widened from housewives to almost every possible jobs out there, Disney came up with new characters like Mulan, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Elsa and Anna. The life goal of these characters also changed from getting married to getting independence from powerful figures. The scriptwriters even made fun of the old Disney princess stereotypes in the newest movie Frozen, “You are not going to marry a man who you just met.” However, there are still controversies about the new image Disney has presented to the society. Disney princess always have body features that are impossible to be seen in the real world, for example, Anna’s eye size is almost as large as her waist ( The plots of these new princess movies also have a lot of improvement spaces. The only problem I have is that how can children realize the differences between these princess from different generation, and since Disney is still promoting all the princesses as one group, it’s only going to make the identification process harder for them.
    -Ann Kong

  33. Disney’s princess model has changed over time. From the snow-white image in last century to the latest rebellious princess Anna in Frozen, Disney tries to fit in the current era without too much of creativity. Before the company’s princess promotion came out in the early 21th century, these princesses model had a far less impact on modern children. The idea of no matter how miserable one’s life is, as long as she is good looking and has an extremely high toleration about all the suffering she has been through (ex. Snow White, Ariel). As the social role of women widened from housewives to almost every possible jobs out there, Disney came up with new characters like Mulan, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Elsa and Anna. The life goal of these characters also changed from getting married to getting independence from powerful figures. The scriptwriters even made fun of the old Disney princess stereotypes in the newest movie Frozen, “You are not going to marry a man who you just met.” However, there are still controversies about the new image Disney has presented to the society. Disney princess always have body features that are impossible to be seen in the real world, for example, Anna’s eye size is almost as large as her waist ( The plots of these new princess movies also have a lot of improvement spaces. The only problem I have is that how can children realize the differences between these princess from different generation, and since Disney is still promoting all the princesses as one group, it’s only going to make the identification process harder for them.
    -Ann Kong

  34. I think that all the girls when they are young would like to be princesses. The princess’s life depicted in the books, movies, even in the reality is just too fantasy. Everyone like good things, beautiful world with love, with fortune, wealth, without pressure. Then as a young girl, Eleanor definitely would like to be a princess. But I believe that one day when she grows up, when she goes into the reality, she will find out that princess is just a dream that only stays in the dream, or she will just forget all the princess dreams as other memories fill up her brain. It’s totally possible. When I was young, I didn’t play any barbies or dolls. I played cars, trucks, etc. But what I played didn’t influence me that much, or at all. I agree that today’s extensive marketing on barbies, Disney’s, dolls is a problem, but I only think the effect it brings to children only exists in the short run. When children grow up, they will be attracted to new different things since always have a short period of enthusiasm (I hope so).


  35. Disney princesses are harmful to children? If you had told me this few years ago, I would have questioned the validity of your statement and considered it as nonsense. However, after reading the articles, I have come to understand how obsession with princess is dangerous and possibly detrimental to the development of young girls. These fairytales teach that "a man would take care of you" (Cinderella Ate My Daughter, 20), and your appearance determines whether you will attain happiness. Personally, I did not grow up in a culture of Disney princesses, but I have been exposed to the mass media that strongly emphasizes women's beauty and femininity. Such experience proved to be influential because I often caught myself focusing too much on one's outlooks. I believe that princess-shamming is not as important as teaching the correct attitudes to children. Parents can not protect their children from all the possible dangers that will occur. You can only teach them the correct values and hope that they will know how to protect themselves.


  36. As young girl. I did not grow up with lots of dolls and barbies, i was not really into that world and all my other sisters were into that girly girl look. My mother kind of wanted to force me into that world. I personnally feel like our entourage usually try to define who we should be or who they want us to be without paying attention to what the person person really want to be. I find the story very touching.people should be allowed to be the person they want to be. Clothes, colors, class, or race does not define who we are. The stereotypes we create make us deverge from our own person. However, at the end of the day, we always go back to how we are meant to be .