Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Starting 2014 as I mean to go on

Joyless feminists are required, among many other things, to complain about Disney princesses.  To fulfil this obligation – in addition to playing lego board games and watching a bagpipe band in Glasgow – I spent a couple of hours last night discussing the role princesses play in the culture of girls under the age of 5.  I know, you’re wishing you were me, aren’t you?

Here’s my problem.  Big Girl and Small Girl each received a Disney Princess dress for Christmas, from my sister, who apparently thinks the purpose of Christmas is to give children things they will like.  Big Girl gets to be Belle, in yellow.  Small Girl, in pink, is Aurora.  This is problematic in itself, because I am pretty sure Sleeping Beauty wore blue.

Big Girl loves princesses.  Most of her presents from her friends who came to her birthday party were princess-themed.  She’s four.  It will probably be a phase, and I probably shouldn’t worry.  Except… She’s started saying ‘it’s not fair’:  “It’s not fair.  I’m not a real princess. If I was a real princess I would live happily ever after”.  When she says she wants to be a princess, I ask her what sort of princess she wants to be – a princess vet?  Or a princess teacher, perhaps? I have tried to explain that not all princesses have to be of the Disney school.  As a result I am required to invent stories about Princess Ruby, who does things like rescue small boys from trees, befriend dragons, go sledging and other feminist activities.  We haven’t quite got to the point where she complains about Disney, but it can only be a matter of time.  But, short of giving her Princess Diana’s life story, I’m not sure how to counter the ‘happily ever after’ myth.

And she’s also become obsessed with wanting make-up.  She is occasionally allowed nail varnish as a treat, but I am dismayed to hear her saying that she “needs some make-up for her party so she can look pretty”.  Why is she already thinking about prettiness? Why does she believe she needs make-up to achieve this?  How have these ideas infiltrated the mind of a (then) three-year-old? And how can I counter such powerful and insidious ideas when I don’t even know how they have got to her?  If I tell her she doesn’t need make-up because she is already pretty, this just reinforces her idea that it is important to be pretty.  I tell her that she is pretty because she is a nice person and has a beautiful smile.  I am pretty sure, even at her age, she can tell this is lame – even though it is true.

My sister, because she clearly *does* know better, posted a link to this on facebook.  (Before anyone gets all ragey, it isn’t talking about all men.  It’s talking about *the* men – some men – just those men who… well, you get it, I hope).   We still need feminism because there is a whole section of society determined to make my little girls feel inadequate in order to spend the rest of their lives selling them things, in order to distract them from achieving their full potential, in order to keep them compliant and quiet and well-behaved.  Enough of this shit, I say.  I just don’t know how.

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