Get off the Princess train, people!

I have just about had enough of people bashing Disney and their Princesses. While I’m not a big “princess” kind of person, I believe their stories are more than just “let a man fix it” fluff. Anyone who actually PAYS ATTENTION to the movie, the book, the story, etc. will get that. Do you doubt me? Let’s examine a few, shall we?

How about we start with Cinderella? She’s the poster child of the Princesses, isn’t she? Let’s walk a mile in her glass slippers for a moment (have you ever tried walking in those, btw? OW!), shall we? Her mother dies when she’s a baby. Her father remarries a horrible woman, who hides her hideous nature until he dies not long after. Cinderella is forced to live with her Step-mother, who feels that she’s better than dear Cindy because of… something or other. Cinderella is forced to work as a servant in her own house, give up her bedroom and move into the servant’s wing (or, as Disney paints it, the attic). She dreams of a better life (I mean, c’mon, wouldn’t you?) and makes friends with talking mice. Who else was she going to be friends with? On comes a Royal Ball, and the wording of the invitation is such that Cinderella is eligible. She gets her hopes up only to have them dashed by the lovely step-mother in a fit of selfish priggery (I don’t even know if that’s a word, but it sounds good to me!). She meets a fairy, who grants her a wish. In this case, to be able to go to the ball she got her hopes up about in the first place. I want to point out here that AT NO TIME DOES SHE EVER SAY “I’M GOING TO GO MEET THE PRINCE AND LET HIM WHISK ME AWAY!”  She, in fact, WASN’T WAITING on Prince Charming. She was gifted with the opportunity to go spend a night being something other than what she’s forced into being every day and even had to be reminded to go to the ball because she was admiring the dress so much! It’s a stroke of luck that she meets the Prince, at all, much less catches his eye enough that he chases after her! I also want to point out here that she WASN’T EXPECTING THE PRINCE TO COME LOOKING FOR HER! Neither did she stop fighting against the oppression of the step-mother until there wasn’t anything the woman could do to stop her. However, people would rather bash her up and down because she happened to fall in love with a Prince, who married her! Damn her for being happy with a rich guy who is in love with her and for having a better life than us!

 

And Snow White? Yeah, she starts off singing “some day my Prince will come,” but it was probably something she was raised to believe. I also want to point out that she’s CLEANING THE STEPS OUTSIDE when we first meet her. If you traveled back in time, how many royal maids wouldn’t have been singing the same song? Of course, then she gets chased through the woods by a man who has orders to kill her and cut her heart out. She’s forced to hide with the dwarves, where she would’ve remained happily for years and years if her demeanor were any indication. How many times did she bemoan the lack of a prince while she was cleaning up the dwarves’ house? Um, none? How many times did she sit down and cry because the Queen wanted her dead? Um, I’m going with none there, too. She’s even nice to the old hag to hands her a poisoned apple, and provides us with a teachable moment for our kids—don’t talk to strangers and don’t take food from them, either!  The dwarves chase the wicked hag (aka the Queen) off a cliff in anger. I mean, seriously, people. Isn’t it a shame that she was such a nice person, so warm and loving, that 7 men chased a witch off a cliff because she’d hurt Snow White? I don’t know about you, but I’d love to inspire that level of loyalty and love in people! Now, let’s pause here and talk about the curse on the apple and the real reason why everyone hates Snow White. Let’s start with the fact that the “sleeping death” curse was going to let Snow sleep until she died or for all eternity (the details are fuzzy). The only thing that could break the curse was a kiss from her one true love. She didn’t dream that little loophole up! Why is she getting crucified for it? She’s just really lucky that said true love happened by! She didn’t care if he was a prince or a butcher! Aside from his fine clothes the first time she saw him, how in the heck was she supposed to know he was even a prince! He was a cute guy who was flirting with her! I don’t know about you, but when I was her age, I totally flirted back! So, damn her for finding someone who loved her enough to find her and break her curse! And double damn her for that someone being a Prince who could protect her and make sure it didn’t happen again!

Oh, and Ariel? That little fish out of water? Let’s get this story straight… she dreams of being human. She sees a hunky human (and again, like Snow White, I want to point out that she didn’t think he was cute because he was a prince. He was cute because… well, let’s face it. He was cute!) and like any sixteen year old with a crush wants to see him some more. She saves his life, too. Let’s not forget that part. After a fight with her Dad (those still happen in modern society, right?), she visits a witch who uses her for her own personal gain, makes her a deal and turns her into a human. Then proceeds to sabotage any chance Ariel might have of actually getting Eric to like her as much as she likes him. Oh, then enters Vanessa, who has to use a spell to steal Eric away. What does Ariel do? At first, she’s miserable and wishes him well. If he’s fallen in love with someone else, so be it, right? But as soon as Scuttle says he saw the sea witch in the mirror, she DIVES OFF THE DOCK TO SWIM AFTER THE BOAT! This doesn’t sound like a damsel in distress to me. She swims after the boat and climbs on board ready to fight to protect the man she loves. She even attacks Ursula because the witch is shooting at him! Yes, Eric steers a ship into the bad witch and kills her, saving Ariel and Triton (and the rest of the ocean, oddly enough). Someone tell me where it’s written that the guy can’t save the girl? It’s not like she was sitting around waiting for him to do it! She was dodging those bolts, too! Crazy psycho witch was trying to kill her! So, Big Daddy Triton realizes how much Ariel a) loves Eric and b) wants to be human, and uses his own magic to make her happy. Wait, let me get this straight… her Dad did what he had to to make his daughter happy. And that’s a bad thing? He didn’t kill anyone, rob anyone, hurt anyone or anything else. He gave up his daughter so she could be happy. And you’re giving her crap for being happier on land than in the water? Damn her for being happy, too! She didn’t even need pills!

I won’t even go after Tiana (who worked two jobs as a waitress to save up money to buy a restaurant, I want to point out) or Rapunzel (who was kidnapped from her family and locked in a tower for her ENTIRE LIFE). I will leave poor Jazmine alone (who do you think you’d be married to if YOUR parents had picked him for you? And, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t she marry the street rat? She saved HIM, didn’t she?) and I will do my best to give poor Belle a break (she didn’t care that the guy who kidnapped her was a beast when she fell in love with him. I personally think it was the library, but I’m a geek that way).

I think the real problem, and the reason why diatribes against Disney’s Princesses have become a fad in this country, is because of one major social issue: We don’t want to talk to our kids. In fact, we don’t want to even spend time with them. How do you know? You sign them up for a sport EVERY SEASON that’s available… soccer, basketball, football and baseball all in one year! You sign them up for some activity after school EVERY DAY (ballet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, piano on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Gymnastics at least three times during the week on top of that). You don’t sit at the dinner table the way you were raised and talk about your day. You grab McDonald’s on the way home from practice and eat it in the car while navigating 6 PM traffic jams. Worse, yet, YOU TURN THE TV ON THE SECOND YOU GET HOME and it doesn’t go off until bedtime. And I don’t even mean their bedtime, I mean YOURS! Which means you’re not talking to your husband/wife/life partner, either! And you wonder why you’re on Prozac! You wonder why the divorce rate is through the roof. You wonder why your kid shows signs of ADHD. It’s not his behavior or his brain chemistry… it’s the fact that you’ve trained him that he’s got to be on the go every second of the day! So, when a teacher needs him to sit still and answer Math problems, HE CAN’T DO IT!

SO STOP IT! RIGHT NOW! Stop this never-ending “it’s not my fault, blame *enter someone else here*” mentality. Sometimes, it IS YOUR FAULT. If you’re not listening or talking to your kid (I didn’t say yelling or fussing), then yes, your kid being a fru-fru-waiting-on-someone-else-to-fix-it person is TOTALLY YOUR FAULT. Don’t blame Cinderella, she made it to the ball! Don’t blame Snow White, she had people who loved her enough to kick butt when she couldn’t! Don’t blame Ariel, she was willing to give up everything she knew and loved in order to chase her dream!

Go, make a casserole for dinner and sit down at the table. Ask your kid what their day was like. Ask them what they thought of that movie.

And for those of you in the gifted class here, READ TO/WITH YOUR KID before they go to bed! If you read them stories where the girl is happy kicking butt and taking names (I recommend Harry Potter for this, as Hermione does anything BUT wait around on a man to help her out!), then when they find adversity, they overcome it!

And even more important, GET TO KNOW YOUR KID! Life never hands us the same kid twice (boy don’t I know it!). Find out what your kid likes and don’t try to force them down a path they’re not happy about. Maybe they LIKE getting dressed up and having a tea party. Is that truly wrong? Isn’t etiquette important?  I, personally, LOVED getting dressed up for the prom and my wedding. I have never felt more beautiful than the day I got married. Is it horrible that I am glad I pulled it off for those pictures? Now, I will follow that up with the following: I hate girly movies, but I love Disney movies. I hate “chick flicks” and I LOVE action/adventure movies. I read a little bit of romance, but I snort at the lovey-dovey scenes. I prefer good fiction (Go on, show me a weak female character in the Eye of the World. I DARE YOU!).

I know you’re going to ask, so let me explain how this has worked in my house. I have a four year old daughter who will be turning five in a few months. She LOVES getting dressed up. The more the dress swirls around her when she turns, the more she loves it. She loves shopping and I firmly believe could put an outfit together better than I could dream of doing, all the way to the accessories. Her favorite color is pink. She loves playing in her little kitchen and brings me food to “try” all the time. I am both looking forward to and fearing the day the girl gets an easy-bake oven. She loves getting her nails painted, too! Oh, and horses, butterflies and unicorns, don’t forget those! Know what else she loves? Pirates and dragons. Her favorite movie is How to Train Your Dragon (or Megamind or Rio, depending on what’s on HBO tonight). She favorite TV Shows are Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Spongebob Squarepants (enter Mama groan here) and Lego Ninjago. She watched a version of the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles from start to finish the other night. She plays with Legos more than dolls and for Christmas the first thing on her list to Santa was a DRAGON she saw at Toys ‘R Us.  She loves reading and drawing pictures and stickers (oh, Light, the stickers!). In short, she is well rounded. Why? Because we read together. We eat dinner at the table together. We talk about her day and we watch and read things that aren’t just “for girls.” I paint her nails and she crawls on the floor like a lion. She sings at the top of her lungs (Lemonade Mouth is her favorite CD) and then chases her sister around on the floor making monster noises.

I have refused, since the day she was born, to allow the words “it’s for boys” in the house. If she wants a GI Joe, that’s fine with me! Barbie needs a real man to date, anyway! I have forced eating at the table as a family to happen EVERY NIGHT. I’m not perfect, we watch WAY too much TV and I’ll be the first to admit it. We don’t eat the healthiest stuff on the planet and she’s so picky, she hates most of what I cook, anyway. But she’s healthy. She’s happy. And if she wants to go see Brave, Ice Age III, or Madagascar III, I truly WON’T CARE which theater we walk in to. I know she’s on the way to being an awesome young lady, who is going to blow people away with the creativity and intelligence she displays. I am proud of her for trying T-Ball, even though it didn’t seem to be her thing. Heck, I’m proud of everything she does and I am the luckiest Mama on the planet for having her as my kid. It’s a gift I refuse to squander because I don’t have time or can’t be bothered. Does she like the Princess movies? Absolutely. Does she have Princess stuff all over her bedroom. You bet! Tinkerbell, too! Am I going to shield her from the “evil Disney Princess” crap. NO!

Let me leave you with this thought, 2,500 words, later. The problems we have in this country today are caused by closed-minded ignorance. It’s only through keeping the mind open and accepting people for who they are that we will ever live in a world that is safe for our children. It’s our responsibility, as parents, as citizens, and friends and neighbors, to love each other. No matter what color they are. No matter what religion they are. No matter who they want to marry, be it the man of their dreams, the woman of their dreams, the Prince who wanders in and steals their hearts, or the career they devote their life to. It’s our place to want them to be happy. Their happiness is why we brought them into this world, not their job or their boyfriend. Remember that.

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