Is the portrayal of women in modern-day Fairy Tale movies what we want to inspire our girls?
As it is International Women’s Day this is a relevant question about Fairy Tales Disney style. Is the portrayal of women in modern-day Fairy Tale movies actually what we want to be inspiring our girls growing up in the 21st century? Is the constant bombardment of girls with ‘Disney princess costumes and perfect dress and make up something that we need to move on from and be a bit more imaginative than? In which case what makes a good fairy Tale?
A proper, good Fairy Tale is more than just a ‘princess’ being beautiful and dreaming of finding her ‘prince’ – and the modern obsession with ‘Disney-fied’ versions of fairy tales is just getting a bit tired and is not at all aspirational to the modern woman that our daughters are going to become.
In which case why is the typical Disney Princess symbolism something that so many parents encourage their daughters to aspire to?
The role of the Fairy Tale
I have a daughter and 2 sons, and I think the role of the Fairy Tale has an important part to play in their childhood – in teaching them about good and evil, hopes and dreams, being strong and resilient and coming up against unsavoury characters and regardless ensuring that good prevails. The trouble is that the Disney version of most fairy stories have made it all about the beautiful princess, the dress they are wearing and the number 1 hit song. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of a lot of Disney films, but not without also wanting my children to experience other stories and opportunities.
But trawl down the costume aisle of any mainstream supermarket or children’s shop and the ‘girls side’ (because there is always a gender split never an option for children who might want to just choose what appeals to them regardless of gender!) are racks of fairy princess dresses. Now I accept that a lot of this is down to pure commercialism. The big money is in the characters that children recognise form the films they have seen and which they perceive to be the characters they want to be like. And so the shops sell what the children are familiar with. But maybe if the films and TV programmes featured more varied portrayals of women the racks of costume would be more varied?
The world of children’s entertainment
So why can’t the world of children’s entertainment be more varied in terms of the experiences and stories that our children are exposed to? If we want them to grow up with limitless possibilities we need them to experience many different slants on life. Not just the same old Disney view of how life would be in a dream. Not all dreams are the same. And not that all children are the same. Let’s encourage them to embrace and discover their creativity, their skills and their own dreams. And let’s not for goodness sake segregate them into dreams for boys and dreams for girls. Every child is unique and every one can be awesome at something; it is our job to help them to feel inspired about the world around them and the wealth of opportunities open to them!
And on International Women’s Day I want to celebrate the fact that my daughter can be whatever she wants to be…….
And the best quote ever that she said to me recently; “Mummy, I love Moana because her legs are chunky”!!