Monday, January 30, 2012

The Princess Effect

This past weekend was a big weekend in This Random House. After a four year hiatus we returned to the crazy, bedazzled world that is Disney on Ice. The last time we went Dude was 7, Crafty was 4 and we left Mischief with a sitter. The show was amazing but the crowds, pyrotechnics and flashing lights was way too much for Dude's Asperger brain; he spent most of the show hiding under his jacket. Now he's a little older and a lot more equipped to deal with everyday life, even everyday Disney life, so we went.

We arrived early and the kids spent their Christmas money on swords, stuffed animals and action figures then Mr. Awesome spent our retirement money on cotton candy and snow cones. Once everyone was sufficiently sugared up and Disney-ified we found our seats and waited for the show to start.

Mickey and his pals opened the show and then it was Aladdin and the Genie followed by Beauty and The Beast. Bizzy's eyes nearly popped out of her head when the music started and it didn't take long before she had her stuffed Belle and Beast dancing along to the music. I thought she was going to faint when the rest of the princesses and their princes joined Belle and Beast on the ice.

I watched Crafty and Bizzy take it all in; the lights, the sparkles and the music. They sang along to the medley of Princess tunes and sighed every time a Prince lifted his Princess into the air. They were thoroughly enchanted by the scene. It was sweet but a little concerning in light of something I had seen earlier in the week.

Crafty as Cinderlla

Last week I was watching a talk show (one of the hazards of recovering from surgery, I don't get out very much!) and the topic was how this generation of girls is being damaged by 'The Princess Effect' meaning that too much emphasis is being put on appearance and catching a 'prince' than independence and inner strength. At first I thought the whole argument was kind of mental but sitting under the Disney spell, watching my girls get drunk on the princess effect, I thought that maybe those experts had a point.

Until Mulan.

Mulan burst onto the ice, wielding a weapon and fighting with the big boys. She saved her father's honor and all of China in one heroic act. She was a Princess Warrior. That's when I realised that Disney don't make princesses like they used to.

Crafty as Belle
Gone are the days of Snow White cleaning house for a bunch of tiny slobs, Sleeping Beauty waiting for her prince so her life would begin and Cinderella being at the mercy of self centered bullies. In 1989 we saw the era of a new kind of princess begin with Ariel the Adventurer followed by Belle the Bookworm and Pocahontas the Spirited. 

Princesses are still beautiful, romantic and feminine but each one finds their inner strength and accepts their own unique awesomeness. The modern princesses are bold, courageous and independent. They role model humor, creativity and intelligence while singing catchy tunes. They dance through their troubles and find something good in every situation. They are resilient. They are clever. They are strong.

As we were walking to our car after the show I asked Crafty who her favourite princess was.

"From the show? I don't know, maybe Belle."

"Do you have a favourite who wasn't there?"

"I like The Paperbag Princess, Rapunzel but most of all probably Fiona."

"Why do you like Fiona?"

"She's a little bit gross but still all princess and she can fight like a ninja!"

"I'm a ninja."

"No ... you're not."

I watched my beautiful girl run ahead and join her brothers, laughing at her silly mom. My brave Pocahontas, my sensitive Belle, my curious Ariel, my fierce Rapunzel, my clever Tiana, my strong Mulan, my quirky Fiona ... my witty, silly, spectacular Crafty. My Princess Crafty.

Being a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be.

~Princess Diana

No comments: