Parenthood re-introduced me to my first love. NO, not kids! Disney! Duh! I grew up wanting to sing like Ariel, marry Aladdin, and have woodland creatures as friends. Even with Disney dreams filling my little head, here I sit today as, what I think is, a productive member of society.
I thought that having boys would mean I wouldn’t get to bask in princess-y fun, but thank goodness, Parker proved me wrong on that front. It was then that I started to hear opinions of disapproval. Not of me or my boy’s love of “girly” princesses, but of the princesses in general. Even as a cynical person, I was surprised- because the opinions I was reading were never even issues I had thought of.
Many women believe that Disney princesses are bad influences on girls. They teach girls to depend on a man, to be a frail damsel in distress, that your life isn’t complete until you find your Prince Charming. Those are not the life lessons anyone would want to teach their child.
Naturally, these moms want their little girls to be strong, independent women who can take care of themselves- and they don’t believe Disney Princesses have those qualities. I may not have little girls to worry about, but as a grown up Disney girl- I think I have a pretty decent idea of what goes on in the minds of little princess lovers. As a Disney loving adult, I think I’ve got a pretty decent idea of what goes on in the minds of Disney princess creators. I have to respectfully disagree with the princess hating moms. I am not one to cram my opinion down anyone’s throat- but if you’re here on this blog, it means you are probably slightly interested in reading what I think, so I’m gonna tell you-
The Disney princesses are not weak, ditzy, damsels in distress- they are BAD ASSES. Straight up, no buts about it, total. bad. asses.
Maybe if you look at it from far away, you’ll see the most popular formula- girl falls in love with boy, conflict, boy comes to the rescue, they live happily ever after. From far away- you could slap it with all kinds of negative stereotypes- but when it comes to Disney, you have to dig a little deeper to find the true meaning. Look past the happily ever after. Maybe that’s asking a lot, but if you want movies that teach your kids important life lessons, don’t you want your kids to dig deeper anyway instead of taking everything at face value? Life lessons are never so simple to learn, so why discount Disney just because you have to take a look at the man behind the curtain (yes, I just made a Wizard of Oz reference. It counts!)?
Beauty and the Beast starts out with a strong independent woman who doesn’t give a floating fart in space what the townspeople think of her. She is secure enough in herself to be called “weird” for reading and learning, and when the man that every other woman is throwing herself at makes advances to her- she stands up to him and says no. Belle isn’t a weak woman who fell in love with her captor. She is a woman who gave up her life for her father’s because she knew he was sick and wouldn’t survive in prison. Instead of judging Beast for who he was and what he looked like on the outside, she helped him realize who he COULD be, and that is the man she brought out of him and helped him become. THAT is the man she eventually fell in love with. Not a captor, but a man trapped in a body he was cursed with by a friggin’ fairy as merely a child.
Tangled isn’t about a baby being kidnapped and locked away for 18 years until a boy comes to save her and take her home. It’s the story of a young woman finally standing up for herself and taking control of her life. No matter who it was coming into that tower, she would have asked their assistance- not because she’s weak, but because she’s SMART. She doesn’t know her way around and needed a guide, or get lost in the damn woods. Rapunzel isn’t weak- how could she be to leave that tower after being forbidden to for 18 years? How could she be to finally stand up to Mother Gothel? How could she be to stand up to a room of thugs? How could she be to save Flynn/Eugene’s ass? TWICE! And to do all of that barefoot! Come on now, that is not a weak woman. That is a BRAVE woman.
Merida may have been kind of a whiny brat who stomped her feet because she didn’t get her way- but it took a BRAVE young woman to realize the error of her ways, admit her mistake, and truly change her fate.
Jasmine helped to change the ancient traditions of a kingdom, and married someone “beneath” her, according to society’s standards. She didn’t care about money, heritage, or title- how is that not respectable?
Cinderella? Her father DIED, y’all- and then her big ol’ bee of a stepmother basically turned her into an indentured servant, which she put up with for YEARS. She finally defied the woman and met the man of her dreams, and so the hell what if her womanly ways convinced him to go looking for her? Putting up with the three witches she had to for so many years without smothering them? That is some serious self control, patience, and tolerance. She could be commended, not considered just simple someone who was saved.
Ariel didn’t teach me to run away from home when I didn’t get my way- it taught me to never give up on my dreams. She wanted to be part of that world long before she wanted Prince Eric. He was just icing on the leg-cake.
Mulan SAVED FRICKIN’ CHINA.
Snow White taught me NEVER to take apples from strangers… and that guys will find a random corpse in the woods and kiss it, but that’s beside the point!
I could keep going all day and night about the important things I’ve learned from the princesses by just looking right below the surface, but I think the truth here is pretty clear. Disney Princesses didn’t give me a princess complex (though I do wish woodland creatures would clean my house!)- they empowered me! To be strong, independent, fierce, tough, loyal- AND that I can be all of those things while wearing a dress.
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