Saturday, March 8, 2014

SOL 8 of 31 - Disney Princesses

Why do I let Clara watch Disney princess movies?

I never thought I’d let my daughter admire those weak and submissive girls who are forced into strict stereotypes.  And yet, my daughter LOVES them.  So a philosophical debate rages between my mind and heart: feminism vs. my child’s interest. Here is my rationalization for allowing those princesses into our lives.

The music is fantastic. 

*It is often orchestra music with excellent instrumentation. Clara and I notice the different
instruments and what they might be representing in the story.
*The songs promote phonemic awareness with lots of rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
*When we listen to the soundtracks in the car, we often find ourselves describing the story’s action, setting the scene, discussing the characters, etc.  The music itself helps us “see” the story.

By repeating the stories over and over again, Clara gains many foundational literacy skills.

*She knows story language and can use it independently in her own stories. 

*Using the familiar princess story as a model, she invents new stories with story elements like beginning/middle/end, characters, a problem & solution, a setting, etc.  This is when I can help her see alternatives to the stereotypical princess.  Sometimes our stories make the princess stubborn or defiant, though always very caring. 

*In creating our own versions, Clara has wondered about the names of the princes.  I had to look them up on Google.  Did you know Snow White’s prince is Prince Florian, Aurora’s prince is Prince Phillip and The Beast’s name is Prince Adam? Are the male characters in these stories so insignificant that we never really learn their names? What’s that say about stereotypes?

And I’ve realized that some of the Disney princesses are better role models than I thought at first:

-Princess Belle loves books.  She always has her nose in a book.  That’s a quality that is fine for anyone to admire.  Plus, she doesn’t judge Beast by his appearance. 

-Even though Cinderella is extremely passive and submissive, she is also extremely caring and protective. She protects the mice and cares for all the farm animals. 

-Princess Jasmine is curious, adventurous and a little rebellious. 

What would I be rationalizing if I had a 3-year-old boy instead of my girl? 

CASTLE photo credit: <a href="">Express Monorail</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

SHEET MUSIC photo credit: <a href="">Jorge Franganillo</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

ONCE UPON A TIME photo credit: <a href="">UNE Photos</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

PRINCESSES photo credit: <a href="">JD Hancock</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


  1. I appreciate your commentary and well thought out reasons, I too have had this internal debate... Have you seen Frozen? It was great to see the curse which could only be broken by true love, was between two sisters!

    I must say I'm not looking forward to the years when it's no longer princesses, but Justin Bieber!!!

  2. You'd be rationalizing why you won't let him wear his sisters' tutu! At least, that's where we are. When he wants nail polish with us, or wants to wear her pink shoes all day I have to stop and think about how I am going to tell him no without saying it is only for girls. And should I be saying no? Should I just let him do it? He's only 18 months old for Heaven's sake. But where do we draw the line?

    1. Oh, this is a tough one. I wish it weren't true but I feel that it's easier to let a girl do "boy" things than a boy do "girl" things. Although, he's only 18 months makes perfect sense he'd want to be like his sister. He'll grow out of it when he's with boys at preschool, right?

  3. My post today is also about princesses! More specifically, about trying to prevent a princess takeover in a house with two girls :) and to nf above: I don't think any if us are prepared for the days of Bieber Fever!!

  4. It's a wise post, Susan. This, like the argument about letting younger children have play guns, which I had with a friend when my son was young. I still believe that if one nurtures all those other good things, too, that kids explore, and then move on. Your sitting beside her and talking about the movie is one key. It isn't a babysitter, you're enjoying, and learning from it, together.