What did I learn this week?

Had too much princess?

If you are the parent of a young child, then you know about the Disney princesses. Love them or hate them, they are there – glassy eyed, small waisted, and big haired. What’s wrong with the Disney princesses? Well, I am sure that there are people out there who have devoted a ton of space to this question, so I’ll just give the short version of MY issues with them.

First off, the Disney princesses as a group don’t look like the originals from the movie – they have been hootchied up for lack of a better word. Second, the Disney princesses were never supposed to be a group! They are characters from completely different stories. Now they are all together, and they are EVERYWHERE! Third, there is no real diversity amongst these princesses (and I’m not just talking about ethnicity, there is no individuality period). It should go without saying that simply colouring the skin darker or lighter and changing the hair does not show any real diversity, but that is the only difference between these characters. The faces and bodies are all the same.

But really, for me, I that it is the homogenized aesthetic that is one of the biggest problems with the Disney princesses. If you believe that it is valuable for children to be exposed to different kinds of people and experiences, then included in that should be exposure to different types and styles of art. There is a certain style to Disney, which I think can be appreciated for what it is, but should never be the sole, or even dominant, style that surrounds and shapes the aesthetic sensibility of a child.

It is not like there aren’t any other options out there. There are some great princess books out there that combine terrific art with a wonderful story – my favourites are The Paper Princess and The Paper Princess Finds Her Way, both by Elisa Kleven. As for options for princess swag – does any child really need all that cheapo made in China garbage anyway? Be a bit more creative is what I say, and work hard to get the kids off the train that carries only the Disney princesses and on to one that includes a wider variety of characters.

2 Responses to “Had too much princess?”

  1. I agree. Everyone, regardless of age, needs to have a varied source of inputs. Maybe an amalgamation of Disney, Anime, Paper Princess, Grace Kelly (she was beautiful), Princess Leia Organa, Princess Elizabeth Christobel Edith Bagaaya Akiiki of Toro, etc

  2. There’s a great book by M. M. Kaye (for slightly older kids) called “The Ordinary Princess” – it’s out of print, but I have a copy and you’re welcome to borrow it. It’s a lovely story with an undercurrent of “princesses are boring”.

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