If I met the man I was before I had a daughter, I would laugh at him. Then give him a hug and a pat on the back.
That man had said there is no way his daughter would be into princesses or Disney. Just no damn way.
Fast-forward about three years and that sentiment was obviously rooted in fantasy. Both princesses and Disney have a way of grabbing onto toddlers and not letting go. We now have several princess costumes that are sometimes (OK, pretty much all the time) worn as clothing and dress-up and dolls are pretty much part of the routine.
And the books! I would like to address some of the content in these children’s books. First of all, fairy tales are just creepy and weird. People are baking live birds in pies and constantly falling and getting killed. Princess stories have that whole, the prince must save the day thing, but there is also a lot of hanging around. And my daughter thinks only witches read books because of the spell book in Snow White. Can’t any of these princesses read a book in one of these stories? Or maybe clean their room? Cinderella is OK because she cleans, feeds chickens and makes friends with animals after her stepsisters are mean to her, so that’s a good lesson I suppose. But really, would it hurt anyone to write a princess book in which the main character reads, eats vegetables, brushes their teeth and goes to bed on time?
But back to the costumes. It all started with this phenomena known as “Frozen” that apparently is all the rage with the under 4 crowd and even those older. A video snippet here at a friend’s house, a song played at day care and soon it was all “Frozen” all the time. The movie’s message isn’t bad, it’s about sisterly love, so that’s OK. Then it was the box of Disney VHS tapes that a family member had saved for us. That opened the entire panoply of everything princess. Dress-up time became frustrating for mom and me since we couldn’t get the ribbons right on the dresses. And that’s when we got the text.
“Costco has princess dresses on sale.”
And so we went. And bought them. A whole array. But it didn’t stop there because apparently Rapunzel was needed. So there we were again and by the way, here’s an Anna dress. That’s one of the sisters in “Frozen.” She has a red wig.
Once home, it was a fashion show, or like a Madonna concert, with costume changes abounding.
“Well, I’m glad we didn’t get into this whole princess thing,” I said to my wife, who responded with a smile and a shrug.
The bottom line is I like seeing my daughter happy and she is happy when she is role-playing. And just what was my whole issue with princesses and Disney anyway? Was it the royalty thing? The fact that many of them had to have a prince save them? Or that it made them feel that they were more “special” than everyone else? Too girly?
At this point in my daughter’s life, she has no idea about the politics of princesses. She is a girl, so really it’s OK for her to be “girly” and she thinks it’s fun to dress up like princesses. And maybe going through this now will break it before she gets older and starts to understand gender and socioeconomic dynamics.
Just the other day she woke me up to tell me she was done with dress-up clothes and wanted to wear normal clothes. That lasted a few hours, so who knows what the future will hold? Maybe I’ll laugh at my current self in a few years or maybe I won’t. Either way, it’s definitely interesting. And dare I say fun?
Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.