Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It Is Our Job To Raise Balanced Girls, Not Disney's

It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep. I was surfing and ran across a new movie and tv show in the works from Disney. It's called Sophia the First and will star a little girl princess. This is marketed to the Disney Junior set, 2-7 year olds.

While trying to find more information about the show, I encountered lots of snarky articles about this being a bad idea. They ranted about princesses being a bad influence and seemed to snarl at the general manager of Disney Junior when she admitted the young princess would have plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes. Well, guess what? Most little girls already like sparkly shoes. My two and a half year old talked me into a pair at Target today when she declared she "needed" the glittering red mary janes. Even though the show is trying to teach that what is important is on the inside, guess what snarky bloggers? I'm not depending on Disney to teach that to my child. It's up to me to instill self-confidence in my girls. Growing up Disney myself, I had a regular diet of the latest Disney fairy tales. I was also taught that I am smart and what is truly important in life. In my house, we learned to enjoy the magic as well as be responsible people. And you know, I think I turned out quite well.

If you look at the pile of gifts I need to wrap for Tink, you'll see that we are encouraging all sorts of play. She's getting a medical set and musical toys. Daddy had a hand in getting her a set of tools and a tiny Ducati motorcycle. And yes, there is a princess coloring book or two in the mix and she already loves the sparkly plastic jewelry she got from her aunt.

I guess it just comes down to "they just don't get it." And that makes me a little sad for these bitter types. Disney is about magic and escaping from reality for a while. And yes, they do try to sell us merchandise but is a business after all.



  1. Generally, I'm right with you. I am able to argue against every point in the yawnsome "I took Women's Studies 101 in college" Disney-bashing essay, and I believe that there are some natural differences between girls and boys. I also agree that role models in a child's life can be more significant than what the outside world tells them.

    My feeling is simply "why bother?" They know how to sell merchandise They know how to attract addict after addict (she says, glancing over at the growing collection on the Christmas tree). Why target something at one gender in this way?

    Sometimes Disney can get it so right, and sometimes so wrong. Jake, Oso and Manny are all amazing shows where boys and girls do all the same things together and the gender of the characters is completely irrelevant.

    Then they come up with things like Minnie's Bowtique. A freakish obsession with the colour pink, to the extent that I wanted to adjust the saturation on the TV, and the wonderful line "there's no problem that can't be solved with a sparkly new barrette". I had to switch off. That is not the message that I want going to my son - "Have some stuff! It will make you happy!"

    I don't know how long it'll take to appear over here, but I will give Sofia a chance. I just hope that they do what they do best.

    Walt Disney said "I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be six or sixty." That message needs to be carried across into gender as well as age. Boys and girls indulging their respective feminine and masculine sides and seeing that it's ok and normal is a wonderful thing!

    Rather than having gender-specific shows, why not continue to have those that blur the lines? The more sources from which they get the message that boys can play house and dance; girls can have adventures; and that pink is a bright, happy colour for everybody to wear, the easier it will be for all children.

  2. Amy I agree! Actually one of my writers is doing an article about why the princesses are not bad and why they give us a lesson in life. This is coming from 2 mother of boys and each of us also have 1 girl each. I applaud you for saying what you think. Love it!

  3. It's not about, "buy something to make you happy" it's about how little things in life matter just as much as the big things. Walt was a marketing genius, yes, but he also was a deep thinker and implied life lessons in all that he did that carries on from generation to generation. To often, people look for the flaws in anything Disney instead of looking at what the real message is. And as for the pink for girls, goes both ways with the primary colors for boys. Let me ask you something, would you rather put your son in a blue outfit or purple? I rest my case. ~Theresa

  4. I am pro-Disney, as evidenced by the fact that I'm reading a Disney blog, am informed enough to explain why I love the Disney Junior shows I mentioned, and that I feel the need to defend the princesses (and the Big Man himself) every time someone bashes them. I am not looking for flaws - I am simply disappointed when I find them.

    As to my son's clothing? Yup, he wears some blue. He's Scandinavian in colouring, so I think the colour looks particularly cute on him. He also has some pink, purple, orange, red and brown clothes.

    Wearing pink is wonderful, whatever the gender. Pink Minnie, however, is a new invention - you rarely see her wearing pink prior to someone going "hey! Girls like pink! Let's make everything pink" and turning every outfit Minnie wears and everything she touches into an explosion in a Pepto-Bismol factory. If it were just by chance, or because that's how she always was, then fine, but this was a conscious "for girls" choice.

    I think you might have misconstrued my point about Walt. I meant that he was saying that things are better when everyone can enjoy them together rather than splitting it up into groups - adults separate from kids; boys separate from girls.

  5. Becca, you hit the true meaning on the nail. Thank you. Also, if you remember, Minnie is usually seen in a red dress as she has for many many years. I don't think it's so much Minnie that is pushing the color pink onto young girls as it is society. Go to a hospital and you have two choices in the gift shop: blue for boys and pink for girls. And the age group that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Minnie's Bowtique are that of 2-5, when a young girls favorite color is either pink or purple. It's just how the help these lil girls feel more connected to Minnie. They see Minnie likes pink and say, "Mommy!!! Minnie likes pink too!!!!" Minnie is still symbolized with a red polka-dotted dress, even in the parks.

  6. And Tinkerbell is a tomboy that wears green...don't forget about that. There is something for everyone. I say if we don't read into things, there should not be a problem. Just enjoy Disney!

  7. Belle's dress is yellow and stands up to a beast to protect her father, Cinderella wears blue and pushes on despite and abusive household, Tiana is black and works her butt off to buy her own resturant. Snow White shows compation for those who are different and often shone by the world. So, maybe I'm missing something as I don't see anything wrong with these traits.

  8. As you already know Amy, my Tink LOVES the princesses. She has a whole array of toys and her total favourite is ... Donald. Often construed to be a boys character (you try getting girls clothes with him on, all the female stuff has Daisy and she just doesn't cut the mustard) she will happily dress up in her Belle shoes whilst throwing a football around. So what if Disney make more princess stuff, can't we have some fairy tales and escapism for our kids to enjoy like we did? They're already growing up in a scary and nasty world, let's let them be kids and enjoy whatever fantasy life they can for as long as possible. Bring on the princesses!!! :-)

  9. One thing I am noticing through the comments and my own home is that kids are open-minded. It's the merchandising that is not. My oldest daughter loves Toy Story and Cars 2. Merchandise for both leans heavily toward boys. Like Nine's Tink, mine is not happy with the designated girl character. She loves Buzz and Woody. I have other friends who have boys who adore Daisy. Sounds to me like we are all doing a great job of letting our kids be kids.


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