Discussing
Biblical heroines and Cinderella culture

Amy Adair

Ann In Faith
February 9, 2011

SPOT.ON. !!!! THANK YOU, a thousand times, for writing boldly about this. SO TRUE [about how we have allowed 'the world' to call the shots on how we think, what we buy, even the vocabulary we use to describe ourselves.] GOD BLESS YOU for shining the light on this topic.

David Arnett
February 9, 2011

A good example of how Americans deal with conviction. We see the problem and decide that only applies to others, I'm not giving up anything, I'll just be more careful than the less informed. That is how we are brought down.

Anne VanderWeele
February 9, 2011

Thanks for this thoughtful article. All things in moderation seems to be wise counsel when it comes to princesses. I thought Tangled was a small departure from the regular Disney princess script. Anyone else?

JCarpenter
February 9, 2011

I'd recommend Mark Twain's _The Prince and the Pauper---the role-reversal story---as antidote to the princess (prince) culture.

Bethanykj
February 9, 2011

I appreciate your perspective on this, Amy. I feel kind of ambivalent on the whole issue. I get Ornstein's arguments and I worry about the commodification and hyper-gendering of our children. I also grew out of the princess phase like lots of well-adjusted service-oriented women did, and I think our kids can too if "you're a princess" isn't the only message coming at them. We don't need to take away tiaras, but maybe we can give our girls other kinds of dress up toys too that help them imagine other selves.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
February 9, 2011

Interesting thought David. Care to expand on what you feel would be a better alternative course of action?

Brenda Heyink
February 9, 2011

A book that I'd think you'd appreciate is my favourite children's book is Robert Munsch's "The Paper Bag Princess". The main character is a princess but clearly one with initiative and courage. And the story even does a great job of asking the question of whether beauty really matters in a way that most girls, no matter how old, generally love. You can listen to at the website and read the backstory (<a href="http://robertmunsch.com/the-paper-bag-princess/);" rel="nofollow">http://robertmunsch.com/the-pa...</a> you can see that it was written in response to the question of why it is that the prince always saves the princess. After all, why can't the princess save the prince?

JCarpenter
February 9, 2011

Mulan also---

Adrienne
February 9, 2011

I'm with you on this, David. Part of the problem is that companies like Disney richly rewarded for creating a culture of entitlement and beauty obsession in women. No female role model has such a large footprint at the princess.<br><br>Bethany, I think the princess industry has changed greatly from earlier decades. While it was a common element of our youth, it is inescapable today. Adventuress Dora the Explorer morphed to Fairy Princess Dora because there just isn't room for a geography loving kid if she's not a princess. Princess obsession leaves little interest for non-romantic narratives like Harriet the Spy, the Little House books, and Anne of Green Gables (where the romance doesn't drive the first book).<br><br>Even the Bible demands princessification: <a href="http://www.tyndale.com/My-Princess-Bible/9781414333243" rel="nofollow">http://www.tyndale.com/My-Prin...</a><br><br>This singularity of imagination impacts how girls roleplay future identities and prepare for their adult lives.<br><br>Why do we so willingly limit our girls' horizons to the sad arenas of beauty and popularity in a world filled with more interesting women?<br><br>Not offering the companies our kids' time or our financial support is a good start, but it's even more valuable to help girls identify interests that can eventually grow to passions. If we only act as gatekeepers, we miss the opportunity (and wonder) of being guides to a vast and diverse planet.

Xioc1183
February 10, 2011

I don't think you can look at any period of time and see boys that don't want to be manly and girls that want to be pretty.<br><br>I suspect that what the OP is seeing here is natural for the course of life. <br><br>One thing that people commonly reject is the idea is that markets create cultures. This just isn't true. If it was, you could walk into virtually any culture and present your market and make it work. <br><br>However, it doesn't work this way. Markets can only feed on what is already there. I'd bet you that if you took away all the princesses and made them into first ladies that dress like Michelle Obama, and market it with all the fiasco of today's princess, you'd fail.

Alan Doak
February 10, 2011

I read another review of this book that was critical of the marketing machine that has pushed this gender problem. I agree with you, however, that there really isn't anything wrong with little girls as princesses as long as the parents don't let it get out of hand later. We need to teach our children the difference between fiction and reality, and that both have a proper place.<br><br>Nice article.

Paulvanderklay
February 10, 2011

I'm not sure beauty and popularity are sad arenas, what is sad is the monocular defining of beauty and acclaim that we see played out in this. Beauty and popularity reduced to sexual allure. Without reduction beauty and popularity are key aspects of glory. pvk

Rachel
February 10, 2011

The problem is that the princess thing is almost impossible to escape. The marketing is everywhere, and if you are like me, you are in the middle of it before you know what hit you. I tried to cut back the princess stuff in our home but ultimately we had to just cut it out, because I don't want those to be the role models she idolizes, and make no mistake, they were! Even though we have family Bible time most days, and she goes to Sunday School and is around other godly influences, she still wanted to "be Cinderella" most of the time. We finally sat her down and talked to her about the negative influence these things were having on her and removed 99% of the "stuff" and she is doing better. I'm sad I waited so long. It's not like it was when I was a kid; the marketing these days is over the top...Disney especially. And if it's not princesses it's something else, I know. I'm trying to teach her (and remind my own heart) that things/looks/popularity/getting the prince is not what makes you happy and fulfilled in life.

Barb
February 10, 2011

When my girls were little I wouldn't buy them Barbie dolls, but Grandma did and they played with them all the time. And by the time the youngest was interested I did buy her the Barbie doll house. Now I have granddaughters and they have each gone through the princess phase. And I admit I would choke everytime I got to the end of the story "And they all lived happily ever after." I usually added a postscript that tried to correct the "happily ever after" as well as the assumptions that the stories made about beauty and passivity for women. But I don't think you are ruining these little girls for life by letting them dress up as princesses--they love the dresses and tiaras and shoes. And they'll make up their own with Grandma's left over lace and hats and shoes. In fact, when I clean up after they leave I love finding the glitter they leave behind. After all, they truly are princesses in God's royal family (1 Peter 2:9)

Brooklyn Cravens
February 11, 2011

Great post, Amy. I think this really goes to reflect a little something on parents. The concept of beauty and a woman being beloved is not inherently bad. We find it in Scripture, even as the entire Church is called "beloved" by Christ.<br><br>Back to the parenting, a little girl doesn't need to figure out what a princess looks like and feels like from Disney or any other marketing tactic. A little girl needs to know what a princess, beloved from the inside out, is like from a loving mother and father that make her feel precious.<br><br>Half of the problems we face as a society today really can be blamed on the parents, which is why God focused heavily on family in Deuteronomy. It defines everything. When the family slips, so does society.

JCarpenter
February 15, 2011

Our cultural and mythic concept of the princess also includes most often as back-story anything but a loving mother and father---think Cinderella or Snow White, Disney's quintessential models---both whose "true identity" remains passively hidden until a fairy godmother or charming prince comes to rescue her and reveal her. Likewise Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel, imprisoned. I so appreciated from Disney the shift to more active and assertive female characters, such as Mulan or Belle, about the time my daughter was in late elementary school. Other than any princess image, cultural or perhaps scriptural, her mother and I promoted the godly woman model from Proverbs 31, as well as the non-gendered models of Spirit-filled living.

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