Image Map

Mom & Pop Culture: Princess Week!

Usually, when you hear the term "Princess Week," images of ball gowns, tiaras, and lots and lots of pink happily ever afters spring to mind. But not over here at Mom & Pop Culture.

Not that I don't like pink (or a sparkly tiara now and then).

I do (sometimes).

What I don't like is how the Princess Culture has invaded our children's lives via overzealous marketing and branding. I also don't care for the limiting and sexist "values" that most (read: Disney) princesses tend to bring with them. This week we'll look at all things princess, including my own hypocritical princess ideals (you'll have to wait until the next post for that confession).

Over the last few weeks, a few princess-themed pictures have popped up on my Facebook feed, courtesy of George Takei of all people. These pictures strip away the fantasy that Disney tries to market and shows the hidden ugly side to these princesses.

Disney Princesses

Look at Belle for example. At the beginning of Beauty and the Beast she doesn't fit into the stereotypical princess mold. She's intelligent! She reads books! She wants more than her tiny French village and sees right through the idiocy that is Gaston! But after all is said and done, her "freedom" comes in the form of marriage to a prince (who was once a Beast who treated her horribly). There was so much promise in the set up, and then...disappointment. Especially for me, an eleven-year-old girl who was super into reading books.

While the original version (A French tale called La Belle et la Bête) still included many of the tired tropes that show up in the Disney version, it also included a much richer back story, one that got lost during its "Disneyfication."

This seems to be Disney's method. They take age-old stories and break them down until all that's left are overused stereotypes and a lot of fancy dresses (which you can buy for your child!). The story of Cinderella has been told forever, spanning the globe. There are versions from China, Vietnam, France, Ancient Greece, Egypt and elsewhere. Yet the one version most people think of when they hear the name is the Disneyfied one.

I truly have nothing against the concept of princesses in general. There are a lot of awesome princess stories out there*. Clearly, the romanticized idea of royalty is one that kids have latched on to through the ages. Perhaps it's just an instinctual penchant for frilly dresses and sparkly tiaras. Maybe there is something about a happily-ever-after story that really resonates with children.

No, it's not the actual princesses that get me all fired up. It's what happened once Disney sunk their claws into these fables and turned them from stories into branded commodities. The princess business, which was investigated by author Peggy Orenstein in her latest book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Not only has Disney taken a handful of traditional fairytales and cut them down to a set of colorful stereotypes (as noted in the above picture) but they've tied them in to costumes, toys, bedding, games, books, movies, TV shows, school supplies, food, clothing and more to the tune of over 4 billion dollars a year.

As Disney continues to sell their princesses (and make no mistake, they're selling a brand, not just characters), they continue to show us that people will eat up these negative messages as long as they're packaged in an appealing way—in this case, in pinks and purples and lots of sparkle. It's amazing how far they will actually push it.

Last week I stumbled across this gem in the book aisle of a local supermarket. A few hundred Tinkerbells could have flown in my mouth, it was gaping open so wide: A glitter sticker book devoted to Disney princess weddings. It was as if the universe was offering me a prime example of everything I find abhorrent with this whole Princess Culture.

Cover for Disney Princess "Wedding Wishes" sticker book

This book does it all: It pushes the concept that the end goal is a happily-ever-after, and the only way to achieve that is through marriage. The Disney Princess stories already lay the groundwork, telling tales of young girls needing to be saved by the handsome prince. This sticker book takes it to the next level, proclaiming that marriage is the desired goal. While the wedding industry certainly doesn't need a boost, planting the seeds of that "perfect day" can now start as young as three, all thanks to Disney.

Beyond promoting examples of unhealthy, sexist, and stereotypical relationships, books like these only feed into our consumerist culture. Along with Princess Culture comes a "Buy It Now!" attitude that is only reinforced by the multitude of products that are brought into the brand every year. Disney, and other companies like it, bank on this, hoping that the Princess Culture grabs you by the heart and the wallet so that when it is time for your special day, you might even consider being the star of your own Disney Wedding.

While many young girls make it through their "princess years" mostly unscathed, in the face of fairytale weddings that get their exposure via reality television, is more of this Princess Culture sinking in then we realize?

*Some fabulous princesses stories that stand on their own (without a 4 billion dollar industry backing them up). Please share if you know of any others!

Previously: Mom & Pop Culture: The Grocery Game

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

47 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Mulan!

I always really liked Mulan, even though she isn't technically a princess. She was brave, strong and willing to do anything to protect her elderly father and her family's name. There are definitely still some sexist undertones, and the movie ends when she bags the guy, but still. She's a relatively good role model, especially for Disney.

i love MULAN too, exactly for

i love MULAN too, exactly for the reasons you state -- and yeah, in the end, she "gets the guy" -- but if i remember correctly, isn't he a man who genuinely appreciates her for who she is? strong, independent, loyal, respectful and loving and protective of her family, etc. . . .

Yep!

Exactly right. And her end goal wasn't to "get the guy." Finding the man was incidental to her own journey, which is really the way it should be. If you find the right person that will respect you and enrich your life, by all means make him or her a part of your life! I also found it pretty awesome that she didn't drop her life for him at the end, either. He had to come after her, and the end capstoned with not a "she runs into his arms" but the potential that he'd be involved in not only her life, but a part of the family as well. I found that an immensely more healthy perspective than the precedent up to that point.

Mulan

But don't forget that the story takes place in a Confucianist culture. While it might seem very feminist on the surface, it is subtly indicated that she is about to take on a more traditional and subservient maternal role.

I was thinking of Mulan too -

I was thinking of Mulan too - she's always left out of these princess pictures, although she might as well be a princess, in the Disney sense (and she does show up in some of their princess marketing). She explicitly rebels against prizing girliness, not only in the scene where they're trying to marry her off but in the scene that makes fun of how the other guys in the army are looking only for girly girls. She not only protects her family (which would be a kind of a stereotypical girls-must-be-concerned-with-family trope) but her whole country, and she's honored by the emperor for just that. And, in fact, she doesn't really bag the guy in the end, at least not in the whole "happily ever after, run into each others' arms" way; he comes to *her* because he's impressed, and her answer is basically, "well, maybe." She's also *smart* - she starts out the movie making killer game moves on the Go board just as she passes by, and she's shown repeatedly to be a good strategizer and cool under pressure. I always think of her as Disney's geek princess. :->

I also think the picture above isn't quite fair to Jasmine. They try to make her only worth be in her marriageability, but she disagrees, sneaks out into the city to see the people and have adventures, and while she does require rescuing (boo), in the end she decides who she gets to marry, and it's not the politically expedient choice.

Plus, in the Aladdin cartoon,

Plus, in the Aladdin cartoon, Jasmine gets to kick a lot of ass herself.

yeah Mulan is great except

yeah Mulan is great except for that part where she gives up the opportunity to advise the emperor and return home to her parents who thought she wasn't good enough and were forcing her into sexist marriage rituals.

She might not have wanted

She might not have wanted that job though. Being an advisor is not appealing at to me. I'd rather be in the military or work in a lab. I didn't think her family was that bad. When she failed the marriage exam her father was supportive of her and tried to cheer her up afterwards. And he was quite happy to see her when she returned and told her that the greatest honor was having her as a daughter.

except THIS is how she's sold!

This is her doll:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/b0ttledwater/2458617110/

And every depiction of her in the princess sections of the Disney Store (I have a four-year-old-niece who is obsessed) is of her in the outfit she hates. You know, the one that inspires her to sing about how it's someone else's reflection, not her, when she's dressed like that? Well, apparently, that's the only way to make her a princess.

Note: The sleeves. Who needs hands?

Actually

When I was younger, I had a doll of her that had this outfit
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77790305@N02/7883325756/

Don't know if they still make them like that though :/

The Ordinary Princess

Written by M.M. Kaye, it is the antithesis of everything Disney. I still read it about once a year just to remind myself of why it is important to be myself. And I think I've bought it for every little girl I know.

Alternative Stories

I'm 24 now, (and completely agree with you)...I just had this convo with a woman i babysit for. A alternative to the princesses is actually the Tinkerbell/Disney fairy stuff...its not really about boy/girl relationships, more about working together, friendship that kind of stuff. At first I was really unsure about them but once i read some of the books and watched a few movies, they are wayyyyyyyy better than the princess stuff ..... (not that i don't still love Beauty and the beast).

Also for alternative stories, Tamora Piere is an amazinggggg writer fr young girls (9-teen). I still buy her stuff...she works very very hard at writing "sheroes"...there are no words to describe how much I love her work or how good it is. It really made a difference for me, reading her books as a young girl.

http://www.tamora-pierce.com/

Tamora Pierce

I completely agree and was going to suggest her books as well. Her first book about Alanna had a huge effect on me when I first read it, and later when I continued the series I loved that her life didn't follow a typical outline. There were twists and turns and yet Mrs. Pierce kept Alanna a fierce and determined woman. I especially loved how a later series saw her as a mom still riding off into battle.

Tomora Pierce is also one of

Tomora Pierce is also one of my favorite fantasy authors and her first Alanna book really effected me. It took me 6 years to find the rest of the series in that quartet by the way because the books weren't so easily available where I live >.< but I think I re-read the first Alanna book at least twice a year till I found the rest of the series^^ Yes, I love how Pierce kept her a fierce and independent woman instead of caving and making her fit into the 'princess' mold that Disney offers.

I'd forgotten all about

I'd forgotten all about those! I loved them when I was younger! Might have to go check them out again...

robin mckinley books often

robin mckinley books often feature complex, tough women as princesses/ heroes. start with 'the hero and the crown' and 'the blue sword'.

patricial mckillip also writes amazing non-princess stories.

neither of these women writes children's books, but as a teen and now as an adult i am entranced by their work.

The princess culture is

The princess culture is definitely something that we tend to take too lightly as part of 'growing up'. How hard is it to not make the 'princesses' completely useless or inane? I suppose to be fair, the princesses do seem to be getting better with time and we have hopefully come a long way since the starry eyed and completely inane Snow White of the 1930s to the much more interesting and fun (but still doe-eyed and Barbie-like) princess of Tangled. But despite the change in the portrayal of the princesses in Disney movies, there still has not been *enough* change and it can be argued that the exponential growth of the 'Princess' commercial product industry, with its emphasis on certain stereotypes, has cancelled out any real change in the image or character development of the Disney Princesses.

I've covered something similar on my blog as well if you would care to take a look: http://wp.me/p1XRT2-1l

I don't remember

if any of these are princess stories, but this was part of how I counter-programmed my daughter: Fearless Girls, Wise Women, & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales From Around the World

We also liked Swan Sister and A Wolf at the Door, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow

Jane Yolen has a series of folktale collections "for Strong Girls": Not One Damsel in Distress, Mightier Than the Sword (haven't read these)

Another book

There is also a book called The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechermeier. The book is all about the different types of princesses that exist. I like it because it gives the idea of princesses some depth, some princesses are selfish, some stay single, and some princesses are educated. My six year old loves it and will go through the book to find out which princess she will be for the day.

more princess movies that are good

Princess Mononoke!

A Little Princess!

Ponyo! (i can't remember if she's a princess, but it's a way more positive, way more awesome little mermaid tale nonetheless)

Willow!

Ponyo

Ponyo is The Little Mermaid!

Thanks, but no thanks.

I followed the links to the "non-princess" princess books you posted at the bottom of the article. Amazon suggested I check out the Disney Bookstore. Jeez, Amazon, F-off.

Ugh.

That absolutely sucks (yet is wholly unsurprising. sigh.)

The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess is the The Best. Ever. I've loved that book since I was 6!

Pocahontas!

My homegirl is never ever included in the Princess stuff but I think you'll find she is a super influential princess for women/girls now in the 16-25 age range and she's pretty amazing. She's definitely more influential than Snow White, and probably more than Aurora and Cinderella, leaving you with a line-up of pretty rebellious Princesses.

That said, it seems like Disney's working on character development (Tiana & Merida of Brave), but it would be interesting to wonder how the Princess brand could be more freaking empowering for girls. I've written Cinderella and Snow White off as worthwhile role models (I will just clean for you until I'm rescued) but Belle would be a great literacy advocate and Ariel a marine biologist/activist.

That said, what about love? People (even children) like love stories and the Disney movies inevitably does that. How does anyone depict a love story that's okay for children?

Merida

I can't wait to see if Disney finally does it right with this one. The preview looks promising. Fingers crossed!

Princess Monoke!! And not a

Princess Monoke!! And not a princess, but also excellent is the book "Julie of the Wolves".

princess gone wild

I just posted the princess as brides stickers on my FB page the other day asking the question--does princess culture lend itself to unrealistic expectations about getting married--you know like the Kim Kardashian nightmare that just happened? Also, I revamped the Cinderella story using an application that changes all pronouns to the opposite which is hilarious, but telling. : http://www.princessfreezone.com/pfz-blog/2011/11/16/an-experiment-cinder... My company, Princess Free Zone, intends to offer an alternative to princess and was inspired by my daughter who rejected girly things including anything princess. Girls need to have greater choice and not be fed myths about being taken care of and finding their prince charming who will sweep them off their feet. It's not that I have a problem with romance--I just think the idea of what romance really is needs to change. Thanks for your post.

I loved Dealing with Dragons

I loved Dealing with Dragons and Ronia, the Robber's Daughter growing up. I always favored the strong ladeez.

Patricia Wrede! YES!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Patricia Wrede in a summer course I took for gifted and talented students in our school district. I'd been making up stories as soon as I was able to put a crayon to paper (or, in one infamous and unfortunate incident, to the inside of my Dad's Escort), and Wrede very quickly became a personal hero. I devoured the ENTIRE "Dragons" series and everything else I could find by her. I really think she was one of the major forces that made me a writer. And almost all her women kick some serious ass, which definitely had an effect upon me in my formative years.

If I recall correctly, even though she's not the central character, Eowyn from Lloyd Alexander's books (which include The Black Cauldron) was a pretty kick-ass princes, too. I remember wanting to be Eowyn so badly.

I second the nominations for almost anything by Jane Yolen. Terri Windling's Fairy Tale Series, though somewhat adult, was pretty amazing, too (I probably read them "too young," but I discovered them in 5th grade or so as I was making my way through Wrede's repertoire--she wrote Snow White and Rose Red for the series).

What about Elphaba from Wicked?

Wrede is AWESOME.

Wrede is AWESOME.

(This is a copy of the

(This is a copy of the comment I added on facebook - please skip if you've already read it.) I straight up denied my daughter the option of watching princess movies and calmly explained that I never wanted her to think that she needed a man to save her. When we did watch Beauty and the Beast, I made running commentary throughout the movie; annoying, perhaps, but this is my daughter and her view of relationships we're talking about. Picture books: The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch; Princess Smartypants and Prince Cinders (2 separate books) by Babette Cole; The Princess Knight, Princess Pigsty and Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke; Jane and the Dragon, The Dragon's Purpose, and Jane and the Magician by Martin Baynton. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just the ones that we own. When kids are able to sit through you reading books with few to no pictures in them, the Wizard of Oz series is a great one (fun fact: L. Frank Baum's mother in law was a suffragist and feminist). Also, Igrane the Brave by Cornelia Funke and despite the fact that the writing is not fabulous, the Magic Treehouse series has a brother and sister who go on adventures, both of whom have strengths that help them on their adventures. And Pippi Longstocking as well as Ronia the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren - so awesome. Petronella by Jay Williams is also fun. So many great books out there, and I am always looking for more.

What I find really, really

What I find really, really annoying, aside from everything you listed, in the whole Disney princess franchise is how they turned Aurora's dress from blue to pink. For me, that's kind of "the last straw". Growing up, my favorite Disney princesses were Mulan and Pocahontas. But I always preferred the witches, in any case.

But this whole issue reminds me of something that hit a lot closer to home when I was growing up. I live in Serbia and we have this whole cult worship thing with regard to national epic poetry. And these poems are a large part of our education in that we learn a buttload of these poems (or parts thereof) by heart in school, and a lot of our lessons in literature center on them. Now, there's lyrical and epic poetry, lyrical being women's poems and songs and epic being men's poems and songs (!!!!!!!!!!). And then, there's this one epic poem (and these are all 'folk' poetry) called "Hasanaginica", which tells of a woman married to a Turkish lord, who, eventually, kills herself, because she is presented with a choice between going against the patriarchal ideal of what a woman should act like, and well, acting differently. Now, this poem was praised by the likes of Goethe and is a kind of 'national pride' over here, and we learn about it three times in school, when we're 11, when we're 14 and again when we're 18. How critical the 'learning' is going to be depends solely on the teacher. But, the gist of it is that we are taught that Hasanaginica does the right thing by killing herself. Which is fucking awful.

Now, being a complete nerd, and actually a fan of national epic poetry, I read a lot of the stuff when I was a kid, and among other things, came across a poem called "Ljuba Hajduk Vukosava" or "Hajduk (which is basically bandit or vagabond) Vukosav's Lover". The poem tells of a certain hajduk (pronounced heighdook) Vukosav who was captured by the Turks (who are the bad guys in most of these poems). The Turks keep him in a dungeon for three years, and he sends a letter home telling his mother to mourn him and his wife to remarry. His mother and sisters go into mourning, and everyone's hounding his young wife (we never get her real name) to do the same because it's expected, but she just laughs at them. Then she goes to the village barber and asks him to cut off her hair and make her look like a man, and he, being completely fabulous (and this is me imagining him) does so, and she goes home and puts on the most expensive armor EVAR. Then she goes to the Turkish stronghold where her husband is being kept and tells everybody that she was sent by the sultan to take the prisoners and their captors to be executed. She's supposed to spend the night in the fortress, but she tricks the Turks so they don't see her change clothes (i.e. don't see she's actually a woman). In the morning she goes down into the dungeon, kills the guard and wallops her beloved over the head a couple of times until he passes out, so the Turks won't suspect anything. Then the Turks pay her a lot of money so she won't take them to the sultan for execution, and she takes the money, slings her unconscious husband over her horse and rides out. At some point he wakes up, and she asks him if he recognizes the armor, he does, but he has no idea who she is, so, at first she tells him that she's his wife's new husband, but when he goes into despair, she takes off her helmet, apologizes for knocking him out, and they ride off into the sunset with the loot they took from the Turks.
Now, that's the kind of gal I wouldn't mind learning about in school. I'm not saying she's a feminist character or anything, and yes, the woman going into peril to save her man is a frequent trope in folk poetry in Europe, but doing something about your predicament (and also, making off with a shitload of money in the process) is a hell of a lot better than having to wait for some dude to come along and marry you in order to get your happy ending. And it's definitely better than killing yourself because doing otherwise would be against the rules set down by patriarchy.

Thank you! I love that you

Thank you! I love that you posted a link to Dealing with Dragons. Cimorene is one of the best princesses ever and I frequently recommend the trilogy to every kid I know that has a serious love affair with fantasy books.

As a person who has been battling princess culture for awhile now, I really look forward to reading your series on the matter.

Did you know there are four?

Did you know there are four? The last book is actually the first one that Wrede wrote, and it's from the point of view of her son. The best part is that he spends his whole quest trying to remember the lessons his entirely self-sufficient mother taught him. It's such a nuanced, touching portrayal of the Mother, a role fairy tales often get very nasty about. In fact, when her editor read that manuscript, he suggested writing Cimorene's story, and that's how the first three books were born. She was just so interesting, she needed her own THREE books!

Some of my favorite princess

Some of my favorite princess stories:
A Weave of Words by Robert San Souci--a young woman refuses to marry the prince until he learns to read and weave, he in turn teaches her to hunt and fight. All their talents come needed when he's kidnapped and she has to find a way to set him free.
Rimonah of the Flashing Sword by Eric Kimmel--retelling of Snow White set in north Africa with a far more proactive heroine.
The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen--the youngest daughter of the emperor finds a way to set him free after he's taken hostage
Sense Pass King by Katrin Tchana--a Cameroon folktale with a young girl overthrowing the king and claiming his place by her wits
Just Ella by Margaret Haddix--retelling of Cinderella, when she realizes she's made a mistake in Prince Charming
Cameron Dokey has several retellings in the Once Upon a Time series which feature more independent and strong heroines than their Disney counterparts
just about any of Robin McKinley's princess heroines
Crown Duel & Court Duel by Sherwood Smith--(although this one features a countess), who comes from an impoverished area and tries to overthrow their tyrant king
I don't remember how many princesses there are, but Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales by Alison Laurie and The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories by Trina Schart Hyman both feature fairy and folk tales with strong heroines

And then historical novels of real-life princesses:
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle--Aethelflaed, who fought against the Viking invasions of England
Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett--the heir to the Byzantine empire who was deposed and imprisoned by her brother, and wrote the Alexiad, the definite history of the Byzantine empire
Lady of Ch'iao Kuo by Laurence Yep--a queen who saved her people from an invasion in 6th century China
Nzinga Warrior Queen of the Matamba by Patricia McKissack--Queen of what is now Angola, who kept the Portuguese at bay for 40 years from selling her people into slavery.
Jahanara by Kathryn Lasky--Mughal princess who was the defacto ruler
Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen--recounts the experiences of Margaret Bruce while imprisoned by Edward I
Shirin Yim Bridges has a series of biographies called the Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses which I haven't read yet, but are supposed to be pretty good

Cinder Edna

I like Cinder Edna:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/cinder-edna/oclc/27388648

She is Cinderella's nerdy twin sister who doesn't care about gowns and princes and balls. She ends up with the prince's nerdy brother. The moral at the end is: two people who are smart and have interests and are attracted by mutual interests end up with a happy, fulfilling life, while Cinderella and the Prince care only about beauty and status, so they end up both bored and boring.

*****************************************************************
"Oh don't the days seem lank and long
When all goes right and nothing goes wrong
And isn't your life extremely flat
When you've nothing whatever to grumble at?"

--W.S. Gilber

Were Snow White, Cinderella,

Were Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty written for young girls? Or was it for a general audience? I didn't think Tiana or Rapunzel were that bad. Tiana had both her career and her man and was the one that saved him in the end. And Rapunzel, even though she was trapped in a tower for most of her life, she wasn't helpless when she finally left with Flynn and was even pretty resourceful.

Well...

At this point it doesn't matter who they were written for (and the original stories were intended, imo, for an older audience as they were much more violent and filled with lots of blood and gore). The issue is that now, in the Disney versions, they are being aggressively marketed towards babies, toddlers, and young girls. That is where the problem is rooted for me. Regardless of who they were intended for, it's clear that these versions are now focused on capturing the attention (and money) of young girls.

I agree that Tiana and the Tangled version of Rapunzel aren't bad either - however, they also don't get as heavy handed a marketing push as the other princesses, unfortunately.

Oh and I forgot, in the

Oh and I forgot, in the sequels, Cinderella is a stronger character. Though they are not the greatest stories as they are Disney sequels, they may be worth checking out.

Any recommendations for

Any recommendations for non-typical princess books that are so obviously non-typical? Back story: My 6 year old niece is obsessed with princess stuff. Her mother is very much of the "traditional" roles type. Women should only work if they have to, men are the head and the decision-makers, marriage and babies are what all women should aspire to, being a "good" wife is being subservient, etc. I'm very much the opposite and she's made some snide comments about my views that let me know she disagrees with me. I'd like to get my niece some princess books since she loves princess stuff, but I think those posted in the article would be a bit too obviously feminist and my sister-in-law would just dismiss them as me pushing my crazy views on her daughter. I worry about my niece growing up thinking that her point in life is to only be somebody's wife and I'd like to get her something that shows that princesses can do whatever they want, but I have to tread lightly since she's not my kid and all.

A Little Princess

At first glance, this classic seems like any old boring Victorian girls' story. But the message it sends that is so important for girls NOW to see is that being a "Princess" is about who you are, on the inside, not who you impress or what you have. Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote the Secret Garden, but this less famous books is closer to my heart. Sarah Crewe is the princess because her mother has died and her super-wealthy father has to leave her at her mother's old boarding school while he goes back to India. The headmistress is a cruel person but treats Sarah like a Disney princess in order to get the most money out of Daddy. But when Sarah loses all her wealth and gets kicked down to the servant roll and up into the attic, she keeps her gorgeous, generous attitude, and that's how she keeps all her friends. One scene always makes me cry: she looks so gaunt and dirty that someone gives her a coin on the street, thinking she's a beggar. She buys some pastry from a shop she passes every day, and she's so excited and so hungry. But then she sees two children who have even less than she does, and she gives it to them. She's not a pushover and does what she can to undermine the injustice at her school; she stands up to the school bully. She makes friends with the cast-off, orphaned servant, Becky, before her "downfall" and then has a good friend when she really needs one, later. The ending is about family, not wealth, although she does get to be comfortable again. It's a sort of anti-materialist, subtly feminist text about being yourself and valuing yourself, no matter what other people tell you.

Princess Picture Books

The Monster Princess by D.J. MacHale (although it does show girl bullying, the princesses do change their behavior in the end)
Princess Pigtoria and the Pea (a princess who sees through prince bullshit, dumps him for the pizza guy, and takes matters into her own hands)

Disney Princess Problems

I totally agree with your article. it's true: it's the romanticized princess, the fantasy image embedded with deep-seated ideas about women, that the Disney princess is infused with. I do want to point out though that I don't think that taking pleasure in the deeply problematic images that Disney sells makes one a cultural dupe. I mean, I think one can enjoy Disney and still question its motives. At the same time, I know that some girls (not all!) are less able to make this distinction, especially as they are Disney's target market and are often not given any information about the problems with the images that they consume. Needles-to-say, great article!

http://thefeministajournals.blogspot.com/

My favorite princess story is

My favorite princess story is 'Ella Enchanted' by Gail Carson Levine. And if you've seen the movie... I'm sorry. Do yourself a favor and go read the book now. Ella's character in the book is a strong young woman who goes on her own adventure to figure out life for herself. Yes, she does end up with the prince (as in most fairy tales), but a. they actually establish a friendship instead of just sharing a "magical" kiss and b. things happen on Ella's terms, too. Definitely a good twist on the Cinderella story.

This post was especially

This post was especially interesting because I have been focusing a lot on this topic and the topic of Disney in general for a while now in school. I am now going to be writing an open letter addressing the sexism that disney princess movies portray and how they are healthy for young girls or eve older women to be shown and to try an emulate. I loved your post and will be using it as a reference source in my open letter assignment.

inspiration

This post was especially interesting because I have been focusing a lot on this topic and the topic of Disney in general for a while now in school. I am now going to be writing an open letter addressing the sexism that disney princess movies portray and how they are healthy for young girls or eve older women to be shown and to try an emulate. I loved your post and will be using it as a reference source in my open letter assignment.