Lately, I have seen a lot of controversy about how Disney movies – especially princess based films – are harming today’s youth and making both young boys and girls have unreasonable expectations of themselves and others. I strongly disagree.
As a parent, you are obviously free to decide what you believe is best for your children and sensor what they watch as you see fit. As for me, I will encourage my children to watch Disney Princess films both old and new. Why? Well, I believe that valuable lessons and morals can be taught through these films.
Everyone needs help
Right away, being the “helpless damsel” may sound like something you do not want to teach your child. Who would want to teach their child helplessness and reliance? I am just gonna be the oddball here and say, “ME!”.
No one is strong all the time, we are human and imperfect. Sometimes in life, we end up weak and vulnerable. So, rather than pretending that my child is an unstoppable force who has no mortal emotions or needs, I want my children to know that it is okay to want and need help sometimes. This goes both ways for my children and the people in their lives. Sometimes my kids will not be the ones who need help, sometimes it will be someone else’s child or someone else in their life. I want my children to know the feeling of caring for others and being cared for! To me, that sounds like a healthy 50-50 relationship. Sometimes we all need a little bit of saving (maybe not by a strapping prince) but perhaps by our parents, friends, family, relationships, etc…
That being said, I would like to stress that I do not want this to be a permanent mindset….. So I will also like to add that:
Princesses can be bad-a**!
Sure, some women may watch princess films and put labels of “damsel” and “helpless” at the top of their list of reasons to express their discontent with Disney… But, c’mon now! For every helpless damsel in distress, there is a warrior fighting for what she believes! I get that some of the princess’s victories are little less tremendous as others, but not all of life’s triumphs are great. Some victories are small, and that is okay! Because sometimes, the little victories are the ones that get you through the day.
Princesses overcome the odds
The Disney princesses may be hard to live up to in most standards (they are princess for crying out loud). But the fact these women can overcome harsh situations and nearly impossible odds, is something I want my children to look up to! Not once growing up did I think to myself, “well she is a princess, so I could never do that…”.
***NEWSFLASH: THEY DIDN’T ALL START OUT AS PRINCESSES!***
Examples of overcoming odds:
- Evil Queen tried to kill snow white BUT she still helped others and remained kind
- Cinderella put up with a lot of abuse BUT she went to the ball and danced with that hottie anyways!
- Princess Jasmine was not allowed to choose who to spend her life with BUT she married the one she loved!
- Princess Aurora was put into an endless sleep BUT she got a kiss from a hottie and became Queen!
- Belle was locked in a tower to save her father BUT with a dash of sass and kindness broke his curse and became Queen!
- Tiana got turned into a frog BUT she worked hard, followed her dream, and got her restaurant!
- Rapunzel was kidnapped and locked in a tower BUT she took a chance and found happiness!
- Ariel was a misunderstood mermaid BUT she became a human and found happiness!
- Merida was going to be forced to marry BUT she protested and stood up for herself!
- Pocahontas was ‘just’ the chiefs daughter BUT she ended a whole war!
- Ana and Elsa struggled with powers and separation BUT they gained control and regained their sisterhood!
Princesses are all unique and diverse
A lot of us see the different Disney princess as idols that are “over-the-top” or “unrealistic”, but is that not a good thing? We should encouraging our children to stand out and be over the top. Now, I am not saying that we should slap a fin on their behinds and call them mermaids. However, focusing on other unique qualities that the princesses posses, might be a step in the right direction.
These characters all come from different backgrounds and lines of ethnicity, as well as possessing many different physical qualities as well as their personalities. Some princess are brave, some are tedious, some are patient, some are hasty, and the list goes on and on – just like our kids! The point is that they all possess qualities that make them different both physically and mentally. That is how I want to raise my children – to find and embrace the qualities that make them unique. In my opinion, being “normal” is easy, it is being unique that can be a challenge.
I grew up watching Disney movies and the princesses were always my favorite. I never felt the need to tear myself apart because of a fictional character, and I would hope that an impression like that would never stick to my children. But, I refuse to rob my children of fond childhood memories and idolizing characters because of the potential insecurities that they could inflict on themselves with or without the characters influence. We have all faced insecurities in our lives at some point. But being self-conscious or introverted stems MUCH farther than a fictional character who finds their own happiness. So, stop bippity-boppity-blaming Disney for your inner issues, and try finding a way to really get to the real root of the issue.
***May the force be with you!***