Why I Don’t Think Princesses Are Anti-Feminist

*Disclaimer – Per this post’s subject: If you disagree, I am cool with that, please, don’t flame me about it though.

My daughter loves princesses and all things tulle and pink.
I am enough of a feminist to have pondered whether I wanted her to be allowed to enjoy the likes of Belle and Cinderella.
Here’s what finally decided me.
They are cartoons.
She loves them.
I believe that I can give her enough real life strong women role models. I believe I can teach her how to enjoy fiction while having a healthy understanding of reality and society. You can enjoy something without emulating it.
And like any literature, princess stories can be interpreted differently. They can be anti- feminist as this cartoon states.
But you can also look at it another way. For instance Belle was her own person, who loved books and learning, despite what her society dictated her role should be. She was brave and smart and did what she felt was right. And in the end she chose love. Jasmine was a rebel who fought against the system that was trying to turn her into a commodity.
Each of those princesses’ stories can be interpreted in different ways.
But ultimately, they are just stories. They do not have to be commentaries on the human condition. They can just be stories with happy endings. Yes, the idea of happily ever after is silly. But isn’t it fun to pretend? And yes they are all beautiful in the most unrealistic way. That is because they are ink on celluloid or pixels on a computer screen. Humans like to look at things we think are pretty, especially when it isn’t always around us in the world we live in.
I think I can explain to my daughter that she shouldn’t look like a cartoon. (Princess Leia may be a little more difficult. I think that damned gold bikini did more for my body image issues than Sleeping Beauty. We’ll concentrate on Leia’s ovaries of steel. Thermal detonator, anyone?)
So in the end, I choose to let her enjoy her princesses because fiction holds only the truths we bring to it, and often it’s fun. Also, you say no to this.523612_4798531602426_1995732985_n

She and I and her dad and brother enjoy most of the princesses, their stories and their music. (However, if she ever wants to read Twilight, we will have a long talk about writing style, and why sneaking into a window to watch a girl sleep is worthy of a restraining order, not true love.)
I believe I can teacher this lesson almost as well and Abby Caddaby and Justice Sotomayor.
Abby and Justice Sotomayor


9 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Think Princesses Are Anti-Feminist

  1. This is largely my take, too. I hate Disney Princesses: The Marketing Phenomenon, which I think strips individual characteristics from these characters, but I think that as individuals, each of them demonstrates traits that are laudable and worth teaching.

    Okay, I’m having some trouble with Ariel on that count.

    And Baguette doesn’t yet know about princesses. We’ll show her Disney movies and take her to Disneyland when she’s older, but right now she (a) doesn’t sit still long enough [and I don’t really want her to] and (b) doesn’t have the patience to deal with the lines and crowds. All of that will change, and she may love princesses. But I plan to take the approach my mother did: she never limited what we watched or read, but she talked to us all the time about what we were encountering. So what I want to do is talk about Tiana’s integrity and Cinderella’s kindness, etc.

    Mr. Sandwich’s take? “She wants to be a princess? Fine. She can be Boudicca.”

  2. Let’s be honest – there is no allowing Leila to enjoy anything – she is so her own spirit that there’s no way we could have pushed her toward, or away from, anything.

    And, if her love of princesses means that she “needed” that princess training potty to actually start using the potty….well, I’d actually start calling her Belle, at her insistence.

  3. I happen to have grown up LOVING Disney and all the princesses, so it would be a little silly of me to feel upset with my own daughter loving them. I’m not a fan of buying clothing that has pictures of princesses (or any TV character) plastered all over. But dress-up clothes and tutus of any sort? Bring it! I wish I could still wear tutus!

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