Recently, many articles have surfaced on the web concerning the visuals and message the Disney princesses and their stories present. (I’ve included links to a few below.) Peggy Orenstein has written 4 books and numerous articles about women and girls coming of age. Her most recent, Cinderella At My Daughter, considers what “girlie-girl” culture may be doing to our daughters. I haven’t read Ms. Orenstein’s books yet, so I can’t anticipate how they’ll influence my opinion.
What I can say is that media always has, and always will, have an effect on children and all those who consume it. I don’t believe that any one person can say how it will impact an individual child, but studies are certainly worth reading. First and foremost, I would remind parents that the way they model how to approach a variety of experiences, materials and interactions, is perhaps the biggest influence on their children. I would add that it is a parent’s responsibility to expose their children to the vast opportunities and experiences that are available in our world. As an educator, I believe it is incredibly important for parents to follow their children’s lead. Most interests can be parlayed into multiple learning areas that benefit a child. Rather than forbidding your children from watching these “princesses,” why not talk to them about the aspects that are fairytales and the parts whose values and morals you believe in. I encourage parents to have trucks, baby dolls, heroes and heroines, available for all young children, boy or girl. The way we play and behave, the quantity of time, the quality of the experience and the involvement of a treasured adult, will undoubtedly send our sons and daughters a most powerful message. I’ll get back to you after I’ve read the book…
Some of the articles available on the web: