On Sunday, September 12, 2010, a few of my family members went to see Disney On Ice, Princess Classics. The main reason we went was for my grandma who has always loved the classic Disney Princess movies. However, sorry to call out one of my sisters, but I think we also went for her as she was enjoying every sparkly moment!
Anyway I want to say that I am glad I went because I know my mother, grandmother, and especially sister really enjoyed every thing about the presentation and simply being together as women. But as I was watching the show, which first let me say was beautiful and filled with all the theatrical pieces a Disney show would produce, I began to think and analyze what was being presented to all of the little girls in the audience with their Disney Princess costumes.
I am sad to say that as a woman some of the Magic of Disney was lost for a bit because I couldn't get past how most of the main characters, the Princesses, needed a man, or prince charming, to rescue them from their unfortunate event and after being rescued they were able to find life's greatest fulfillment, a lifetime of magical love with their prince charming. Even the Disney character Mulan, which if you know her story she was actually a strong female character who went to war in place of her father, and eventually saves the entire kingdom which was against the rules of the land for a woman. Anyway Mulan is one of my favorite Disney female characters, but in this Disney Ice show the Mulan character had the shortest scenes and within the Mulan scenes it was portrayed as if she needed the main male role in order to get through her life.
This is where I became sad...The initial sadness was well probably more anger and disgust that these characters were celebrated for their weakness, beauty, and ability to get themselves in situations which required a man to save the day, normally true loves kiss :) I thought about all the discussions which were going to take place in the many mini vans heading home with all the little girls in the back seats dressed up in their princess costumes. What would the fathers, mothers, grandmothers say to these little girls about being a strong independent woman who could have ambitions and goals? How do they talk about fairy tales in relationship to real life? How do you explain to your sons that being a "knight in shinning armor" doesn't mean that you fix everything and save the day, but really means you are to be a partner and provide security and relationship?
I don't have children so I am not sure how you approach these very real and continuous stereotypes in children's stories.
But I must admit my second bit of sadness was personal, feeling that I have lost a bit of the Magic that is Disney.
Maybe you don't have to have these conversation with your daughters and sons at the age in which these children were attending the show. Maybe you talk about the glitter, the costumes, the pretty dresses, the talented skaters, and of course Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Maybe there is nothing wrong with believing in happy endings, true loves kiss, and being saved by a handsome prince.
I love a lot of things about Disney because it represents a childhood that I adored and everything I think is good about being a child. The make believe, the imaginary worlds, the magic...
It breaks my heart to know that children grow up so much faster and learn the hard way that life is not about fairy tales... Maybe we should preserve for as long as we can the little girl in the princess dress...because she will know all too soon the inequalities of this world...