I am SICK of hearing about how Disney Princesses are the reason that millions upon millions of girls & women suffer with self esteem issues. Women around the world are griping and complaining that these figures & dolls, with their “perfect bodies*” are unrealistic and make our daughters feel less than, ugly, fat (you KNOW how I feel about that word) – unworthy. But here’s the thing….
No. They don’t.
Have you ever noticed that the women complaining are simply that – women. They are people of many shapes, sizes & ages who’s hearts, bodies & self-esteems have been damaged over the years by the media, the vicious voices of others and the “perfection propaganda” swirling around constantly whispering “You’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough”. And now as grown women they’re looking at these characters with the same critical eyes they look at themselves with.
It makes me sad, none of us should ever look at anyone, especially ourselves the way that we do. We’re all worth more than the horrific things we say to ourselves (trust me I know, I say them too) – but Disney didn’t put those words in our heads…..we did, the “real world” did.
Now, turn around and look at your little girl and see these characters through her eyes.
Do you see it? The wonder, the awe, the inspiration?
I do, here let me show you…
Belle isn’t teaching our girls to be a victim, oppressed by the hand of man (as is often implied). She’s teaching them to look deeper than a person’s outward appearance, to replace cruelty with compassion and when you do, you’ll get a chance to see their hearts.
Ariel isn’t telling them to be rebellious and sneaky, battling for a man’s attention at all costs. She’s showing them someone like them, someone with dreams and curiosity, someone who sees the beauty in new things, in other worlds. Her story also shows them that sometimes we make poor choices, and that our parents will always find out (because we will always find out) and that comes with consequences. Push come to shove though, no matter what we’ve got their backs, because again we will always have their backs.
Merida teaches our daughters that women can be strong, independent and brave. Merida lets them see that a lady can be both polished (it’s a work in progress) and adventurous – we don’t have to choose one or the other. They see that we don’t need a man to be OK, we’re strong for who we are, not who we’re married to.
My best part of Merida’s story is her relationship with her mother. Let’s face it, if you’ve birthed daughters then you’ll know the mother/daughter dynamic is like nothing else. As our girls watch their story unfold they see they are not alone – everyone has battles with their Mama from time to time, it’s normal and it will be OK. Even, when you think you’ve done the worst thing possible, the smoke will clear and she’ll still be there. You’ll forgive each other and move on because that’s the part that makes us so unique, our love & our bond run deep.
Anna & Elsa aren’t just princesses – they’re sisters and they’re hurting. As the music captivates the audience (and the soundtrack makes mothers’ ears bleed…), and teeny Anna begs her sister, “Do you want to build a snowman” our girls not only fall in love with her sweetness, they start to feel a connection to the sisters.
Every little sister has a moment she feels the bond with her big sister begin to change, when the “best friend” dynamic starts to melt into their individuality and when the loneliness sets in. Alternatively, the big sisters know the pain of that change, feeling their bodies, their lives becoming something new, uncharted and even scary in a way that can drive a wedge between sisters.
Then our daughters see it, the message, the thing that I want more for my girls than almost anything else – loyalty, family, love. If we teach our children nothing else in this life I want them to know that not only do Corey and I have their backs, but that no matter how dark, how scared, how alone they feel they will always have each other. Elsa & Anna did an incredible job of showing them exactly that.
These princesses our girls love so much are teaching them to be compassionate, adventurous, and determined. They’re giving them glimpses into the consequences of poor choices and the forgiveness of a parent. They allow them to be strong, independent and courageous, and remind them that when all else fails, and your world is shattering, your family, your sister (brother fits in there too…trust me I have one) will be there to help you pick up the pieces.
Disney isn’t teaching our girls they’re unworthy, ugly or fat – instead I think Disney is doing quite the opposite. They’re walking along side us, helping us to raise joyful (just listen to your 7 year old belt out any Disney princess tune, you’ll find her joy), confident girls who hopefully will maintain some of those beautiful values as they grow into powerful, strong women.