The D*sney princess dolls spark some fascinating conversations. (It’s part of why I repainted them three times.)
I keep second-guessing this set of costumes. I’m on my third draft, so I certainly hope it’s a worthwhile notion. The overall drift of the project was one of dressing up is reinforced by references to young girls dressing up as princesses, but is it too naive?
Those of us who who watch these animated films certainly have opinions. This year’s flurries of debate concerned whether or not Frozen is a feminist film, and let’s not forget that character overhaul that temporarily happened to Merida from Brave as she was officially included in the Disney princess franchise.
My bias might be obvious already, but let’s be clear: these movies matter to me quite a bit. Sleeping Beauty was the first movie I rewatched incessantly, and I will gladly go toe to toe with anyone to defend the merits of Brave or Tangled over Frozen. In fact, I have been struggling for months to articulate just how profoundly antithetical “Let it Go” is to self-actualization or -respect.
The first time I remember getting my dander up over a Disney film was with Pocahontas. I’d read enough history books to know that the romance angle was a bizarre superimposition of a romance storyline over the top of actual events. There are other issues, but that’s what stood out to me as a kid.
This brings me to an important thing about these films that doesn’t crop up so much in the line-by-line analysis. I get so caught up in the historical references, the bowdlerization, and the art styles that I sometimes lose sight of the value to simply being represented. I recently ran across this post on the subject. It reminded me to value whatever diversity there is to be found. Tiana of The Frog Princess is a decent start for including African-Americans, and I hope for more. I am particularly fond of Mulan, and am glad to have her in this canon even though she is technically neither a princess nor the love interest of royalty.
Given the choice between homogenous princesses and attempts at inclusion, I know which I prefer.