Currently I eat, sleep and breathe Disney Princesses’. If someone entered my daughter’s room they would think that she was slightly obsessed. Bedspread, stuffed animals, Barbie’s, costumes; she has it all. Some parents may feel that the Disney Princess culture sends a message to our daughters of perfection, reliance on a man or racism. I believe that it leaves room for conversation. Conversation about what its real and what is a story. What makes them beautiful, and what makes her beautiful.
Madison’s favorite princesses have no color in her eyes. Her favorites include Sofia the First (Hispanic) and Tiana (African American). At four years old she doesn’t give their skin color a second thought, she finds them beautiful. She loves Tiana so much that she often gets upset when she is not represented in pictures (be on her bedspread, sippy cups and posters). She does notice that she is not with the other Princesses. I do believe that the Disney ideals are somewhat magical. The idea that no matter what, if you wish it, it will come true is warming to the heart. Disney evokes the imagination, promotes the ideas of hope, laughter and happiness.
Linda Christensen’s Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us tore me if two different directions. On one side I agree that diversity needs to be discussed and represented better in the Disney franchise. Princesses and characters need to display real world people or all sizes, shapes and colors.
However, I watch Disney Jr. on a daily basis and feel that changes have already begun. For example, Doc McStuffins is an African American female toy doctor, her mother is the breadwinner and her father stays home and takes care of the kids. Kate and Mim-mim is a story about a little girl and her imaginary toy stuffed bunny. Her bunny however represents a gay male.
Christensen purposed the idea of a black Cinderella on page 194. Where I see the need to add diversity, I don’t think that we need to re-write classics to push for diversity. I do however think that stories like Princess and the Frog are important. They are their own story, and have its own happy ending.
Disney’s Brave is one of the stories that I enjoy the most. Maybe its because its about a bond between a mother and daughter rather then the need for a man to rescue his beloved. Tonight I watched the movie with my daughter. She didn’t ask the deep questions about body image or race but rather, “ Why are they trying to kill that bear?” and “why is she crying?” We talk often about girls can do anything that boys can, and use Merida as an example. Madison wants to play golf. We don’t discourage her curiosity, however we support her beginning passion for the highly male dominated sport. She knows she can do anything a boy can do, and boys can do anything girls can.