The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, May 7, 2012

What do Princesses and Flowers have in common?

Little princesses at EuroDisney. Photo: Sarah Jackson
I recently read a blog on one of the latest products in the ever-expanding Disney Princess range – seeds. On the face of it, this seems like it might not be such a dreadful idea. After all, seeing their favourite characters on a packet of seeds might encourage young girls to start gardening. However, the Disney Princesses only grace the packets of seeds that grow into decorative flowers. Vegetables and fruits are branded with Mickey, Goofy and other classic Disney characters, but let’s face it, little girls are generally more attracted to Ariel and Belle than they are Donald Duck.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about both the pros and cons of Disney Princesses. Whatever you think of them, there’s no doubt that the Princess Juggernaut is extremely popular and likely to continue blazing along for a long time to come. I do think that it’s a shame that the Princesses’ seeds are only associated with decorative flowers and not vegetables. It’s also not entirely surprising. Whilst I think the individual characters can be positive role models, the merchandising linked with them is has a strong focus on appearance, most notably with dolls and dress up costumes. The one thing that all these characters have in common is their beauty. Disney Princesses are pretty; so are flowers. It seems a perfect match, right?

A few years ago, I went to Disneyland Paris and I saw a lot of little girls dressed as Disney Princesses. My reaction was not to reflect on whether it was appropriate for little girls to be running around a theme park all day wearing a big dress or whether these princesses are good role models. Instead, my brain immediately short-circuited into the “OMG SO CUTE” reaction I get when I look at videos of cute cats on the Internet. I recently began thinking of this and wondered if this reaction is in fact problematic. Girls are under enormous pressure to look a certain way; is the Disney Princess range the first stage in this kind of objectification? Never mind what that little girl’s hopes and ambitions are – she looks so cute when dressed as Belle! Let’s shower her with attention because of that!

Does dressing our little girls in cute and girly outfits begin a lifetime’s obsession with looks, or is it just a harmless part of growing up?

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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