Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cinderella isn't pre-med

The vast majority of our TV viewings these days are dedicated to the Disney Princess Sing-along videos. The songs in these videos feature only the princesses of the Disney movies, such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, etc. Melly loves them so we've been subjected to each of these videos roughly five thousand times in the couple of weeks since we've discovered them. It's gotten to the point where I'm subconsciously humming "A Whole New World" while examining patients and they look at me like I'm nuts.

Between each of the songs, there's a narrative that I find rather disturbing. For example, after the Cinderella song, the narrator states: "Cinderella finally lived out her dream of going to a ball in a beautiful dress. Is that your dream too?" And so on.

It sort of emphasizes the point that Disney movies have two kinds of female characters:

1) Princesses who have developed a deep malaise, which can only be cured by an exciting new man.

2) Poor girls (usually also abused by their stepmothers) who are eventually saved by a handsome prince, often met while wandering through a forest and singing.

Between the popular Disney movies and dolls that pronounce "Math class is tough!" it seems like a miracle that so many women have high powered careers these days. My husband and I get nervous that if we don't turn off the Disney videos, Melly is going to end up doomed to a life of dancing in forests with strange princes. (My dream for her is to be a mathematician, which is about as far as you can get from going to a ball in a beautiful dress.)


  1. Rent Enchanted and watch it with her. She may not notice the subtext, but it will make you feel better. :)

  2. Don't worry. Enjoy the princess stage before it turns into the Bratz stage and then the tattoo stage. The most important influence will be the smart, accomplished, self-loving, competent mother. Use the Disney videos as a way to talk about what "real' women are like.

    My son is currently a suburban pampered kid who thinks he is a ghetto gangster rapper with a skateboard and grills.

  3. My daughter LOVES the princess stuff too. I worry about its influence but she loves it so much I'm putting aside my reservations.

    For a little balance, though, I make sure she sees "Mulan" (kick-butt chick) and reads lots of kick-butt chick books like "Paperbag Princess" by Robert Munsch. You can find many others too.

  4. The year that The Little Mermaid came out on video and my parents bought it, I ran home from third grade every day to watch it. And can still recite every word from it and every other Disney princess movie along with the video. We grew up singing Disney songs all the time in the car (by the time I was older and slightly grown out of it, my younger sisters were in the thick of it themselves). I still grew up to be a kick-ass female doctor, and one of those younger sisters is applying to med school herself. So I think the Disney phase is survivable :) One of my best friends, in fact, who is about to finish her medicine residency, collected Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) paraphernalia until she started college, but she still turned out all right. So there's hope for us :)


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