The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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What About The Princes?

on June 6, 2012

Our daughter just returned from a missions trip to Los Angeles where the team she traveled with worked with The Dream Center located there.  They did take a day for fun, however, so she had the opportunity to visit Disneyland.  While she and her siblings were sitting around our computer watching the videos she took of the show in front of “Cinderella’s Castle” I listened from the other room and smiled.   My girls used to be all about  the Disney Princesses.  We used to have Disney Princess everything in our home but most of it (aside from the actual movies of course) has been given away. I loved listening to my now “mature” girls ooh and ah over their favorite princesses.  Then I heard our son say, “Hey! Where are the princes who go with them?  What about them?”

This morning I began pondering my son’s question and the Disney Princesses (I’ll call ‘em DPs for short) as a whole. I’ve often said that I probably never should have let my girls watch them, but not for the reasons that most people would think.

There are many “experts” out there who bemoan the fact that DP’s can give girls a false body image. I do understand the concern and it is legitimate. We have worked hard to instill in our girls the belief that they are beautiful just because of whom, and more importantly WHOSE, they are.  I just wonder why no one is concerned about the Prince’s self image.  I find it just as disturbing that DP’s can give girls a totally unfair expectation of men. (Go ahead. Pick your jaw up off the floor.) Think about it.  Here is a guy who is supposed to be ridiculously handsome, strong, brave, well mannered, thoughtful and above all else, sensitive. (Wealthy goes without saying)  No pressure on young boys there!  Why do we worry more about our girls thinking they aren’t pretty enough more than we worry about our boys thinking they aren’t “manly” enough? Okay, so most boys aren’t interested in DP movies so it probably isn’t as big an issue. Right?  Maybe not.  If we are teaching our girls that this is how a “Prince” (or man) is supposed to be then aren’t we setting it up so that no man will ever hit “the standard” in their minds?  If we don’t want our girls worrying about hitting “princess” standards than we need to make sure they know that guys are never going to hit “prince” standards either.

I’ve also read with interest the concerns that these movies teach girls that they must be weak and helpless and need a man to be complete. Again this is a legitimate concern and I totally agree that is not something I want my daughters to think. I’m just as concerned, though, that DPs can teach girls that men are just a means to obtain what you want. The princes in most early Disney movies are background characters to the really important people: the princesses.  Don’t agree with me? Okay.  Ask yourself why there isn’t any “Disney Prince” themed paraphernalia.  What was the name of the Prince in Snow White’s story? (No – “Charming” isn’t correct.) Why is it called “Cinderella’s Castle”?  (Didn’t she marry in to the family who owned the castle?) The princes just aren’t as important as the princess they are associated with are they?  While I don’t ever want my girls to believe that they are less than fulfilled if there is no man in their life, I also don’t want them to view men as people to be used to get what they want out of life.  Someone who will pay for their shopping trips and give them the status they want.  When searching for a prince I don’t want his checking account and social status to be first and foremost on their mind.  There are a lot of frogs out there who make fabulous husbands.

I will give Disney kudos for doing a better job recently in developing their prince characters a little more and depicting not only the love but the partnership it takes between the princess and her prince to make things work.  That’s what I want for our princesses: a prince with a developed character who is looking for a partnership with the woman he chooses not to live without.  One who treats them like a queen. That’s how my Prince Charming (their father) treats me.

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