This whole “Am I not raising my daughter to be a pint-sized empowered female because I let her sleep in The Little Mermaid pajamas?” concern that keeps parents up at night these days is a really stupid concern, because I’m here to tell ya, it’s not a concern at all. Your daughter has the attention span of a gnat and kids also do this really amazing thing, which is every year they grow, and not only do they grow taller but their minds grow, and they change, and they lose interest in things, and then one day they take all of your money so they can go to college and study hard and also vomit PBR into the bushes of the apartment complex they live in. The Disney princesses don’t stand a chance if we are focusing on raising strong daughters.
I’m a feminist. My boys, whether they fully realize it or not, are feminists. My 10-year-old takes this to sort of this weird militant level, because he is going through this super-analytical phase where every damn thing to him is either sexist. Or racist. It’s fine, I appreciate his enthusiasm for being wary of the world around him, but there are times when he carries a box of Cap’N Crunch upstairs to my bedroom at seven a.m and wakes me to inform me that “Cereal companies suck mom. Why don’t they have any girls on the boxes? Why can’t the Cap’n be a woman? Why can’t the Trix bunny be a woman? What about the BooBerry ghost? No, that’s not a woman, he is wearing a hat and a bow tie! This is bull mom. This is SEXIST” that I sort of wish he could be a little less amped to point out the injustices of the world via cartoon breakfast cereal mascots. (For the record, these same cereal companies are also racist, because the only diversity seen in cereal mascots may or may not be Count Chocula, due to his vaguely swarthy complexion, but he may also just be from Transylvania, so in order to fully dispute this argument with your child you then need to delve into the 1973 cinematic masterpiece Scream Blacula, Scream starring William Marshall, to show him that Yes, Virginia, there are African American Vampires. So yeah, in my house, we talk about things. We debate and analyze and we question. And even though I had read Peggy Orenstein‘s brilliant take on princessing in Cinderella Ate My Daughter and I was weary of letting my daughter engage in princessing due to the fear that Cinderella would turn her into some sexualized little femmebot, the Disney allure is strong, my friends.
So I did what any normal parent would do when confronted with pleas of wanting to watch the princesses in action in DVD form or buy the dolls or the Sleeping Beauty branded lipgloss (And holy hell, how I wish Anne Sexton were still alive to write us a new poem and incorporate the magical voodoo of sticky slick sparkle lipgoo flavored with factory created cherries) I caved. I gave in. I was no match for Ariel and her crew of curtseying and twirling glitter-encrusted rebels.