Apropos of nothing and before I head off to do the weekly shop because that’s how glamorous my life really is. Yes, it was J Sheekey’s in central London on Wednesday. Today it’s Tesco in Chard. How the mighty are deflated.
I just feel the need to express a little rant about the whole Disney princess phenomenon and related paraphernalia which must set the typical parent of girls back by, ooh, say, several hundred pounds a year.
This was actually sparked by one little tyke showing off her new lunch box on the way to school this morning. It was, indeed, new, bright pink on the back and sporting one of the many Disney princesses on the front. I suppose I feel guilty because my two girls have packed lunch bags that cost £2 from Tesco. But they are pink.
What is it that gets me about the Disneyfication, princessification of just about everything in a little girl’s life? I don’t want to get all Guardian about this, but I do REALLY resent the incursion of effing Disney into the minutiae of my and my children’s lives, such as what their packed lunch bags should look like in order that they eat anything at all at school, even if it is Hula Hoops and a shop-bought sausage roll.
I congratulate Disney and the one marketing man in particular who spotted an unexploited niche and decided to corrall all the heroines of various Disney films from Snow White to Cinderella and Jasmine into one new Disney Princess brand. That was a stroke of genius which pumped life and the potential for millions of dollars of new sales into a series of characters who hitherto existed only in relation to their individual films.
The problem I have with this, as a Guardian-reader, a mother and just, you know, someone who lives in the real world, is that Disney Princess values are at best vacuous and at worst pernicious.
Vacuous because the whole princess schtick plays to a ‘I just need to look beautiful and then everyone will love me’ fallacy which we know can lead to only doom, gloom and breasts the size of Jordan’s (although I believe she’s had them reduced. I try not to follow these things but they seep in through a sort of cultural osmosis.)
Disney Princess values are pernicious because if there are any moral lessons in the shallow husk of a Disney Princess character they appear to be that your Prince Charming is always around the corner. Call me Millie Tant, but the idea that we should bring up girls to think Prince Charming will one day come and sweep them off their feet and land them in a castle where they can plait their hair every day as the roses bloom without the city walls seems like a very poor idea indeed. It’s a rotten world view and one that won’t prepare any young girl for the reality of modern womanhood where a female is supposed to be supermum, supersexy, supersuccessful and supersatisfied.
The people I suspect have imbibed the Disney Princess/Prince Charming philosophy, however subliminally and however much they would consciously deny it, have made poor life choices somewhere along the line. Maybe I include myself in that category.
Parents, people in general, can’t ignore the Disney Princess phenomenon, particularly if you don’t want to raise children who are regarded by their peers as freaks because they are asked to go to school wearing hollowed out bricks for shoes. That would clearly be crazy.
But we should recognise that Disney Princesses and all the crap that comes with them are shallow, misguided little fools and so – if your daughter subsists on a diet of unmitigated Disney Princess fodder – will your child be. My answer, for what it’s worth, is to sprinkle a smattering of other, ‘this is actually real’ interests among my Disney-seduced children. So it’s butterflies and plant names, maps of interesting places and lots of books about things that are nothing to do with Walt.
Where are the good mother figures in Disney? There are step-mothers, usually evil, and fathers who just about manage to hand their darling princesses over to our dashing hero by the end of the tale. But there are no mothers, not even mothers who love their kids to bits but are just a bit too shattered and resentful of the god-awful daily slog involved in bringing them up to say so.
I’m sure there’s a similar rant to be had about Disney boy characters. If there isn’t, the whole Disney merchandising effort is even more misogynist than I can countenance.
And so to Tesco, to resist the lure of Disney branded fun-size apples. They’re apples, ffs, and we take them out of the packaging before the kids see them, OK?