I hope my girl grows up to be Princess Belle
April 1, 2008
Is the evil Disney Princess marketing machine setting up our little girls for a life of subservience in Prince Charming's castle?
There was yet another diatribe about this from a Los Angeles Times columnist, which we ran on our editorial pages.
"Mothers of America, Disney wants to destroy you," she begins.
The N ew York Times Magazine ran an exhaustive piece on the topic, decrying the "girlie-girl culture" promoted by the Princesses.
Yet, the very young women who were raised on a diet of Ariel and Belle are the ones crowding into universities, where they increasingly outnumber men. In Florida, 57 percent of students are female.
Given that knowledge is power, one assumes women soon enough will rule this country.
So what gives? Maybe our little girls see more in the princesses than in their feminist moms.
Critics target the three bimbos: Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). The youngest, Aurora, made her debut in 1959. These ladies reflected their time.
After that there was a 30-year Princess drought, broken when Ariel splashed on the scene in 1989.
Yes, she is a babe and a tad vapid. As a father of little girls, I'm not entirely comfortable with the seashells. It also is true that Prince Eric followed the clich� of saving her tail at the end, after which she gave up her gills for him.
But lest we forget who saved who first, it was Ariel who plucked a helpless Eric from the raging sea, where his incompetence as a captain landed him. Ariel also was strong-willed, kept her wits about her when pursued by sharks and rejected her dad's chauvinistic kingdom.
Belle represented the next evolution in princess development. She was a brainy book reader who would have easily scored in the 1400s on the SAT. She spurned the dimwitted town hunk, mounted a one-woman rescue mission to save Daddy, wasn't intimidated in the least by the big bad Beast and in the final analysis, saved his furry behind.
Jasmine was more street smart than book smart, a plucky and independent Princess who became the first to date down. She rejected prince after prince to find true happiness with the street rat Aladdin.
Pocahontas not only rescued John Smith but stopped the silly boys from all killing each other. And rather than abandon her people to be with her man, as did Ariel, she watched him sail off into the sunset.
Mulan didn't preach peace. She waged war, saving China and the Emperor with a brilliant plan that defeated the Huns.
These are not your grandmother's Princesses.
Even Cinderella has been rehabilitated. In the first sequel, she shuns her royal robes in favor of her old wench-wear, breaking protocol by inviting the unwashed masses to the ball. And to prove that even the unattractive can live happily ever after, she fixes up her homely stepsister with the portly town baker.
Yes, the Princesses are beautiful. But don't condemn them for simply reflecting the adult world's obsession with appearances.
I know many professional women who still enjoy their moments of girlie-girlness. Look where macho has gotten this country.
So I ask you, Mothers of America:
Do you want Belle or Bratz?
Pocahontas or SpongeBob?
Given the growing deficit of young men in college, I think the Mothers of America ought to be more concerned with what the Power Rangers and the WWE are doing to their boys, not what Cinderella is doing to their daughters.
Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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