I have been fascinated reading about the latest debate on princesses, this time concerning the Disneyification (I just made up a new word!) of the lead character Merida from the movie Brave. The Disney company is adding this heroine to it’s line of princess dolls, and in the process they changed her looks in a way that is not sitting well with most women.
The creator of Merida, Brenda Chapman, wanted a female that characterized strength and substance, and not just a pretty face. Disney made her look more glamorous, thin and sexy; thus the outcry from the public.
The original versions of princesses in fairy tales, like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel, were also a different kind than the Disney brand. The original tales were about the Heroine’s Journey, the process all girls must go through as they transform from girls to women, maidens to matrons. This evolution involved going inward, requiring solitude and reflection and soul-searching. And it also entailed overcoming challenges, some suffering and hardship, and eventually attaining the strength and wisdom necessary to meet the challenges of an adult woman.
Unfortunately, we have lost sight of this process in our whirlwind culture. And I believe that the lack of support for girls as they undergo this transformation is causing them to become adult women who do not know themselves, who are out-of-balance, and who are experiencing a sort of ‘mid-life crisis’ in their late 20’s and 30’s. Women I talk at this stage in their lives often feel empty and disconnected with themselves.
I want all girls to have the awareness, information, skills, and guidance to successfully traverse the crucial transformative stage of adolescence. It helps if girls aren’t distracted by the unhealthy messages from the media that asks them to live up to unrealistic, impossible standards of beauty and behavior. Princess dolls and Barbies are just two examples of these detrimental messages about appearance that bombard young girls.
But I am encouraged that parents are rising up and telling the media to cut it out. Perhaps the best way to make a stand is to not buy their products.
I’d be just fine if the princesses our girls read about were more like the heroines in the original fairy tales. Those girls grew to higher levels of consciousness, and thus were ready and able to rule their kingdoms. The Disney versions need to fade away and die!