Children, Identity, parenting

Pierced by a Princess

I was so excited when I saw the commercial.  It drew me in.  I was enthralled.  It turned the idea of a princess on its head.  Girls were galloping on horses – in britches, not flowing gowns.  They were shooting arrows.  Swimming laps.  They were real.

They weren’t prissy.  They weren’t waiting for a handsome male to save them.  They weren’t sitting in repose filing their nails or coifing their hair.  They weren’t doing the stereotypical things that mainstream media deems as femininely appropriate. 

In other words, they weren’t filling the mold cast by Disney and its multi-million dollar princess industry. The commercial flew in the face of all that Disney defines as princess.  And I was tickled pink.  Finally, another voice in the conversation of young female identity.  I was psyched that my daughters were being bombarded with this media message, albeit a small bullet amidst the other bombs.

Then I realized the smooth transitions between live shots of the young female archer and clips of Merida plucking her bow; a snippet of the young woman’s dialogue stitched up with the princess’ Scottish brogue.  A sharp arrow pierced my heart.

There was no way Disney would loan their highly lucrative Brave empire to a media campaign designed to encourage girls to courageous authenticity.  To eschew animated perfection.  To forgo licensed merchandise for practical attire and tools.

Wherever there’s a princess, Disney isn’t far behind.

They know there are people like me – women, mothers, fathers, grandfathers – who abhor the exploitation of young girls into this gateway of unrealistic expectations of beauty, behavior, being.  They exploited that need in me for another option for girls. 

And while this commercial is, in many ways, the antithesis of the whole royal empire they’ve created, if such a message comes from them, they’ll seem sympathetic.  They understand.  They aren’t the evil mongerers of petticoats and pink.  They want girls to achieve their full potential even if that means they’ll muddy their knees on the soccer field and go to university for engineering.  Oh, they support the young females of the world in whatever they may do.  And if they happen to find inspiration in the snippets of computer-generated heroines seamlessly interspersed with real girls, there’s merchandise for that.  There are DVDs these young ladies can watch for further inspiration.  Movie premieres and theme parks they can visit dressed in appropriate thematic garb for research and encouragement.

Well done, Disney.  You almost had me.  Which means you most likely hooked every girl in America and beyond that you hadn’t yet.

It’s a brave new world indeed.

* Related article: Great read on Brave’s creator’s misgivings on Disney’s treatment


One thought on “Pierced by a Princess

  1. Hi Jen. Great Blog. The article I was referring to on Monday is from the nytimes August 14 2012. For some reason I can’t cut and paste the URL but its entitled stand up for yourself and mentor others by Brenda chapman, who wrote and produced Brave. Hope you like it.


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