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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Why I do not worry about Cinderella eating my daughter

I have many American friends. Their girls like to wear Disney Princesses costumes and pretend that they are Rapunzels or Cinderellas. And they look soo cute in their outfits! During one of the playgroup meetings we started talking about the book “Cinderella ate my daughter” by Peggy Orenstein. I didn’t read it, so I asked my friend to explain it to me.

She said that it was a book which describes how Princesses and the colour pink affect the way girls should think a real girl should look like. The toy industry of course, works hard to influence this image, making the parents buy outfits and accessories for their girls. This is described as a danger to girls because they then think that the way they look is more important than who they are.

I don’t agree. First, girls would want to behave like a girly girl at some point. They would want to wear beautiful dresses, and have everybody admire them. And second, if you actually have a closer look at the Disney princesses, you’ll see that they are not at all defenceless little girls. So why not teach your girls that it’s actually not the dress that makes a princess a real princess? Take for example Mulan. Brave, original, and clever. Belle? She saw beauty in the Beast, remember? Cinderella? Hard-working, humble and kind. Why is that not a good thing for a girl to have? Jasmina? She married a common man. Ariel? She went out of her way to be with somebody she loved. How courageous is that? Read this article for more if you are interested. Those princesses could be role models and are meant as such.

Now, enter my own daughter K. She doesn’t have a princess dress because we didn’t expose her to TV yet. And the reason why we didn’t expose her to TV yet is not that we think it’s a bad idea, it’s because we don’t have a TV. But K. wants to wear dresses and she loves it when I put ribbons in her hair. She also has a baby doll so that she can have “her own” baby. She helps me with the dish-washer, with cooking (including nibbling on the ingredients) and does her best to care for her little sister J. She can be sweet, caring and thoughtful.

K also plays with Duplo, is learning numbers and letters, she wears trousers sometimes, and looks awfully cute in them. She loves animals, but not ponies and puppies and kitties. For her, it’s tigers and crocodiles and sharks, oh my! Where I thought that children had an instinctive fear of spiders, K. loves them. She has me draw a whole spider family for her: Mama spider, Papa spider, J. spider, both Grandmas and Granddads spiders, uncles spiders.

I once made a lapbook for her so that she could learn numbers. It had pockets with numbers on them and if you lifted the pockets, you could see the number of dots corresponding to the number on the pocket. K. couldn’t care less about that toy until I had a brilliant idea and turned the dots into spiders by adding eyes and legs. She was excited and now wants to count all the spiders. 

So first, I think that if your child acts like a Disney princess, it might actually be a good thing. And no, I am not afraid that Cinderella will eat my daughter. I am more worried about the fact, that K., in onw of her wilder moments, might just eat Cinderella. 

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