Happily ever after …

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook, and it immediately drew my attention because I’ve been pondering this exact, at times, conundrum: The Disney princess extravaganza.

My daughter loves the movies “Little Mermaid,” “Princess and the Frog,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and all the others. At first, I thought she was too young (2½) to really get into it, but, boy, was I wrong. She loves them. She loves princess toys, too. So, I thought maybe she’d enjoy a doll. I saw one on sale; jeez – they are expensive – and brought it home to her. Her face lit up with such enjoyment! She looked at the doll so adoringly and played with her straight away.

I’ve not yet read the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein, in which she reveals a sort of dark side to the whole pretty princess and pink culture. I have this book on my list though, because I have never been a “girlie girl.” I played with He-Man action figures, Hot Wheels in the dirt and watched “Transformers.” I also grew up watching Disney princess movies and I played with Barbies. It didn’t create or take away from my feminism in any way. I’ve never looked at my huge ghetto booty and cried because it wasn’t like Barbie’s or Skipper’s. I am a mom now, and I know that I can’t hold my daughter back from being who she wants to be or liking what she likes. I’ve mentioned this before in other posts.

I don’t really have a problem with the movies, dolls and other crap that’s out there. And to be honest, I think the movies are classic and beautiful. Of course, I am not pushing it, just merely accepting her choice of interest. Yes, some of the plots are unrealistic about life, empowerment and relationships, but what TV program, movie, book and other media out there isn’t these days?

One acquaintance posted the comment, “[E]mpowerment” is far less a result of what children watch on TV and more a result of parents, teachers and friends actually engage(ing) with children about what they see, hear or read.” Amen, sista.

It’s our job as parents to guide and nurture our kids into knowing what a healthy relationship is. My husband is the first man in my daughter’s life. She’s watching how he and I treat each other to get a feel for what she wants for herself one day. Real life is going to show my daughter what’s in the world more than any Disney movie could, and it’s not like she isn’t going to be exposed to other things. Being honest and explaining fiction and reality are part of raising a child, too. There are some bad parts of American culture, but we can’t protect our kids from all of that. But we can try to fill our kids’ lives with good examples of living.

I watched “Cinderella” today with my daughter. We cuddled on the couch and snacked on popcorn. Now, we don’t do that all day. Moderation and variety are crucial for growing minds. After, we took a long walk and, later, we colored, blew bubbles in the yard and, at her request, played with her favorite Christmas toy: Her T-ball set.

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    Christine Teldeschi

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