When I was growing up I don’t recall being consumed with princesses or being covered with pink boas or sparkly dresses. Sure, I had Barbies and I wouldn’t have considered myself a tomboy by any means. But it just didn’t seem we were forced into consumer princessism like girls are today.

I have a 12-year-old stepdaughter and a 7-year-old daughter. For the past 11 years or so, I have witnessed the increasing amount of princess crap being crammed down their impressionable throats. I never liked it much, but, compared to Bratz Dolls and other strangely skanky alternatives, I gladly chose the crowned beauties.

I suppose the whole princess concept was gross to me. They had to be perfect, “lady-like” at all times, long flowing hair and eight-inch waists and worst of all – they were always expected to strive for nothing other than to be chosen by some sword-wielding Prince.

Today I took a couple of seven year olds to see Brave, the new Disney Pixar “princess” movie. I was sort of dreading it as I rarely see children movies I actually like. Toy StoryNemo and Wall-Ewere exceptions, but usually my goal is to simply stay awake.

But I have to admit, I really liked this one. I thought the message was great and better late than never. Merida is a princess in Scotland who was raised to be proper and perfect and when it was time for her to marry – she wanted nothing of it.

Merida longed to be riding her horse, shooting arrows and climbing mountains. She appreciated her moments of freedom with great abundance. And her out-of-control red hair matched her fiery personality. It’s not that she wasn’t princess material; but more like other princesses simply haven’t caught up to her independent standards.

Of course, her mother was insistent on her doing what is expected of her and marry. They butted heads much the same way most of us gals did with our mothers. Sometimes I think there were moments when no one angered me more than my mother. She could just look at me in a certain way and I would snap. But eventually I learned to deal with her naggy criticisms and she learned to deal with my obnoxious mood swings and we became close.

Merida was very angry with her mother and employed a witch to cast a spell  that turned her mother into a bear. While on a quest to reverse the spell, the mother was able to see how capable and talented her daughter truly was and Merida was able to see how much she truly needed her mother. I think that is a lesson so many of us can only hope to learn before it is too late.

I want girls to grow up without limits on their potential. I want girls to know it is okay to color outside of the lines and think outside of the box. I want girls to know that a man’s approval or desire is absolutely NOT their purpose in life – prince or not.

There are elementary students wearing belly shirts and eyeliner. I see pre-teens who look trashier than some bar hags. And I wonder, do they even know why they are presenting themselves this way? And why do parents let them?

Emphasis on brains over beauty, skill over seduction, independence over imprisonment and capability over apathy…this is what I wish for every girl growing up in today’s world of impossible expectations and lessening virtues.

I hope I can raise my girls to be more like Merida – the princess who chooses a sword over a crown and herself over the approval of others.

Bravo, Disney…it’s about (once upon a) time.





One thought on “Finally, A Princess Who Doesn’t Make Me Puke – Patch

  1. Yes! A princess who isn’t a priss.
    When I think back, while growing up, there weren’t as many princesses, were there? The Princess Bride, the “Child-Like Empress” from The Neverending Story, but I’m hard pressed to think of many more. I think of Atreyu (?sp) and Care Bears, Dorothy from Kansas, (both the 1939 version and the scary Return to Oz), Last Unicorns, the Goonies, and Princess Leia, who, although technically a princess, was a Rebel out to kick some Federation ass. In my mind, we had better, stronger, more capable role models than these princesses that wear dresses, heels, and are so delicate, even running might cause a wardrobe malfunction. Girls are now idolizing daintiness, expensive dresses, Frozen everything, and being all girly and delicate. They cry if they get dirty, when we might just as likely played in mud.
    I think being told to “act ‘lady-like'” is just another way to stifle and keep women in ‘their place’. It’s a reminder to remain diminunitive, be quiet, and take up less time and space. I read an article last night about the criticisms women face just for swearing(!!!!) and it not only disgusted me, it made me think that was just another way to keep us perhaps seen, but not heard, especially when someone’s going to lose their shit over the words Fuck, Bitch, and Shit. (My mom always says Shit isn’t a bad word, being a bodily function and all. I particularly love the word Fuck, but she particularly hates it, so I retain a modicum of restraint while I’m around her. I’m certain she is not oppressing me by disliking it, and doesn’t flip when I slip.) I’m pretty sure that it was a recent BuzzFeed article, the one about swearing, if you might be interested in checking it out. (10/8/15).
    I’ve not seen ‘Brave’, and probably won’t any time soon, (no kids! Life is beautiful!) but I like what you’ve shared about the story. It’s great to see that not all Disney movies are the same, that they can model characters after real, live, actual women, who do real, live, actual things regardless of gender. I am realizing as I write this that even as a kid, the stand-in for princesses in the Disney movies I saw, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, weren’t anybody I aspired to be. They were animated fairy tales. Maybe I was a weird kid, more ‘tomboy’ than most, it’s entirely possible. While these days girls dress up as princesses for Halloween (or whenever they can), I recall my standard outfit for a few years was a “punk rocker”, Maddonna or Cyndi Lauper– It was the 80’s, and I wasn’t much more than 7 or 8, although now I realize that I wasn’t quite accurate on the punk rocker thing. Still more awesome than any princess, I’ll tell you that.

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