Tag Archives: Disney

The Princess Paradox

After writing a blog about the Royal Wedding, which I called “materialistic pornography,” I decided I should clear a few things up.  I read a few debates on FB and understood the points of all those that were critical of my post.  I decided a long time ago to not engage in long-running online debates with people on this blog, so I am not going to address anything in particular (Although the assertion of one critic that the royals used “their own money” to pay for the wedding made me smile.  I’m not sure how we define what “their own money” is- and neither does the NY Times.) 

The point I was trying to make had nothing to do with the kind of people Will and Kate are.  It had nothing to do with their philanthropic efforts.  It really didn’t even have anything to do with the exact amount of money that was spent – or the source of that money.  My point was this: things like the Royal Wedding, and especially the way the American media portrays it, contribute to the princess mythology that girls are drenched in from birth.

I can spend the next few paragraphs explaining the princess mythology, but instead I’ll share with you a conversation I had last night with my four-year-old daughter. 

“Am I a princess, Daddy?”

I resisted the temptation to just say, “Yes, of course you are.”  Instead I asked her, “What does it mean to be a princess?”

“It means you have lots of pretty dresses.”  Okay – this was her first response to defining what a princess is.  By this definition my daughter is a princess.  She has a lot of pretty dresses.  And I love them all.  I love seeing her in them.  I love watching her twirl her skirts.  I love the joy and confidence she exudes when she wears them.  I love the look on her face when she opens up a gift and finds a pretty dress and she exclaims, “Thank you, I love it.”  I love that she would wear a pretty dress every day of her life if we let her because she knows in her heart that she is, in fact, a princess. 

I have to insert here that this conversation took place while my daughter was wearing one of her favorite pretty dresses.  It’s her “ballerina dress.”  It is pink and has a wide flowing skirt made of touling that twirls when she spins.  She had on a white sweater and a pink overcoat and had a big pink flower in her hair.  And I was wearing a sportcoat and a pink tie.  We were on a date, and were heading to the ballet to see – yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy in this – Cinderella.  And she loved every second of it. Afterwards she met the dancer that played Cinderella, and I now have a new favorite dancer.  I was moved to tears several times during the night while I watched my daughter’s face light up.

But here’s the problem – if the feminine ideal is to be a princess, and being a princess is defined by “having lots of pretty dresses,” where does it stop?  How many pretty dresses is enough to be considered a princess?  And does having lots of pretty dresses define happiness?  I can say with confidence that to my daughter, there is more.  She is kind and compassionate and appreciates what she has.  On our way to the theater we got a little turned around, and for a few tense moments I wasn’t exactly sure how to get there.  She sensed my stress and told me, “It’s okay Daddy, even if we don’t get to the theater, I still had a great time because I’m with you.”  So I feel good about my daughter, the princess.  But even so, here is more of that conversation:

“So, princesses have lots of pretty dresses.  What else?”  I waited, then asked, “Are princesses smart?”

“No, they are beautiful.” 

“Are princesses brave?”

“Yes – but well, sort of.”

“What do you mean, they are sort of brave?”

“Well, princesses wait for Prince Charming to come and rescue them from evil witches and monsters and stuff.”

And here is the princess paradox.  My daughter is a loving, compassionate, intelligent and articulate little girl.  She is smart and brave and beautiful.  She is a princess.  Not because she has a lot of pretty dresses – but because of who she is inside.  She is a princess because she should be honored and adored, and I pray someday she finds someone who loves her as much as I love her mother.  She is a princess, but I do not want her to ever think for even a second that she has to wait for Prince Charming to come and rescue her from monsters and stuff.

There are plenty of monsters in this world, and real monsters are a much bigger threat to my daughter then watching the Royal Wedding.  When those monsters rear their ugly heads, I pray my daughters will have the strength, courage, and confidence to defend themselves and rely on God, family and friends – not wait for Prince Charming.

Maybe the Royal Wedding is just a moment to escape.  Maybe it is just a chance to live in a fairy tale.  Maybe it is just a celebration of two young people who fell in love and want to help make the world a better place.  Maybe Kate is the kind of princess my daughter can aspire to be – I have no idea, and frankly I don’t care.  I have bigger dreams for my daughter than anything that was on TV this week.  I have bigger dreams for her than anything Disney can package and market.

I want my daughters to know how much they are loved.  I want my daughters to know that they are smart and brave and beautiful.  I want my daughters to be strong like my Aunt.  I want my daughters to have faith like my mother.  I want my daughters to be passionate like my sister.  I want my daughters to be kind like my grandmother. 

What turned me off about the Royal Wedding wasn’t so much the wedding itself, but its place in the greater princess myth.  It is a story that is told over and over by our culture.  Disney, celebrity news, tabloids, commercials, and our surrounding culture drown our girls into believing this myth.  The tell them why they are princesses, and most of it is a lie.  My daughters are princesses – not because of anything they own or buy or because of anything that is marketed to them.  They are princesses for this reason:

They are princesses because they are daughters of princesses.  They are princesses because they are daughters of the King of Kings.


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The Mouse is a pimp

At 1:39 into the clip, the dance begins. A beautiful woman is embraced by a tall, dark and handsome man.  He is behind her, with his head leaning in toward her face, which is accepting of this advance.  Their lips are mere inches apart.  He is wearing a dark suit, but no one is looking at what he is wearing.  She is the centerpiece.  The straps of her dress reveal softly rounded shoulders and a plunging neckline that accentuates her feminine curves.  It allows little, and yet much, to the imagination.

As the dance proceeds, the passion only intensifies.  Her back is left bare by her dress as the two twirl and glide along the floor with grace and beauty.  Her muscularly femine legs  are glimpsed with every lunging step, and every fanciful turn. They float across the floor until the dance comes to its climactic moment when he lifts her leg, places her foot on his shoulder, then twirls into the last pose.  She throws her head back in exhaustion.  He clutches her around the waist, keeping her close, lowering his face to her breast.

The beauty of the dance is certain.  It was a passionate dance, full of tension and emotion.  Their sexuality was at the forefront of every movement, but there is a disturbing twist.

The woman in the dance – the woman with the plunging neckline and sculpted legs…  The woman taken on this journey of passion, culminating in a climactic – even orgasmic – collapse of emotion…  The woman in this dance is 17 years old.

The woman, or should I say girl, in this video is Shawn Johnson.  She is an Olympic champion.  She is a beautiful girl.  She has spent much of her life training her body, gaining a superb mix of feminine grace and athleticism.  She is a role model for young women across the country  – someone to aspire to – someone to dream about being.  She, unlike so many females in the spotlight, is no waif.  She is a picture of health and fitness.  She has reached the pinnacle of her career, and shows no sign of slowing down.  There is no wonder that she is a front-runner on Season 8 of Dancing With the Stars.

I am disurbed however, by the way in which she is being sexualized.  After one of her dances, she was even told by the judge to be “more naughty.”  The host at least had the clear-mindedness to say, “she’s 17.”  But there is no wonder the judge got caught up in her sexuality, he is just a part of our culture that is doing more and more to sexualize young women.  One author calls it “The Lolita Effect.”

I had this discussion recently with some people.  One of the men said, “hasn’t this been happening for years?  Is this something new?  Wasn’t Brooke Shields sexualized when she was young, and Jodi Foster in “Taxi Driver”?”

My response was, “Yes, this has been happening for years.  The difference is, back then it was controversial.  Now it is being sold by Disney.”

The sexualization of young girls is big business, and it is mainstream big business.  Sex is being used to sell young girls and to sell to young girls.  Shawn Johnson is lifted up as the ideal American girl – so lets put her in a dress with a plunging neckline and have her simulate a passionate encounter with a man ten years her elder.  Miley Cyrus is idolized by millions of young girls, so let’s take off her clothes, drape her in a sheet and take pictures of her.

Some might argue, “Well, that wasn’t her doing that.  That was a manipulative photographer that tricked her into posing like that.”  Okay, even if I buy that (which I don’t).  Then how do you explain this:


In case you can’t tell from the picture, that is Mickey Mouse and Miley Cyrus’ breast about to fall out of her dress, and there are 16 candles on that cake – 16!

 Disney corporation pretends it stands for family values and presents its image as pure and ideal, but then gives us Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus and Shawn Johnson’s cleavage on DTWS.   A google search of Disney and sex reveals conspiracy theories about subliminal sexual messages embedded in Disney movies.

They are not subliminal.  The sexual images are right there in front of our faces – right there in front of the faces of our girls and boys.  There is nothing subliminal about Disney and sex. 

Why do we let them get away with it?  Why do we allow Disney to prostitute our young girls?  South Park has one theory.  And I tend to agree with them (but not completely).  Disney presents an image of purity and virginity while at the same time cramming sexual images down our throats.  

Disney is a corporation, and its purpose is to make money.  Does that make it evil? No.  It makes it a profitable business.  Disney exists to make money – nothing more.  The way that it makes money is to convince people that it stands for more than that.  I, as a consumer, can choose to consume their product or not.  My home is not a Disney-free zone.  But I assure you that when I do consume their product, I do so with my eyes wide open.

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