Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Princessed Out

I'm sure you're all familiar with these ladies - the Disney Princesses? Welcome to my life. It's like seven, gorgeous, effortlessly thin, constantly singing super-models who don't like to change their clothes have moved in to my house and aren't leaving any time soon. I have seven new room-mates: Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Tiana and Rapunzel. Unfortunately Cinderella and Snow White have long since left their scullery maid days behind and are totally useless when it comes to housework. Belle reads all the time. Aurora sleeps, naturally, and Ariel hangs out in our bathtub. Tiana, at least, is a great cook except she only seems to make plastic food and unfortunately our Tiana is an amputee, having sustained a mysterious injury that left her with only one leg, so I have to cut her some slack. She does drive her own car though, which is purple and green, so you have to give her credit.

But seriously, princesses have taken over. My daughter is obsessed. I have one of those little girls who goes around wearing nothing but princess dresses, tiaras and waving magic wands and I've decided not to stop her because as a child I was the exact same way. Worse probably and I was highly imaginative and these tales and the films based on them, I believe, helped spark my ultimate love of stories.

But as an adult I view the princesses a little differently. The Disney versions, while very pretty, send some bad messages that the original fairy tales don't. As a kid, long before Ariel existed, my favorite story was the Little Mermaid. As a child who'd been through some rough stuff, the themes of loss, personal sacrifice, disappointment and a love unrecognized resonated very deeply with me on a level that as a child I couldn't articulate, but which I understand very well now. The Little Mermaid story helped me identify and work through my emotions, but Disney came along and completely sanitized the whole story and removed all the unpleasant parts and whipped up a new, happy ending, when the original story has a sad ending and you know what? Sometimes kids need sad endings to help them understand that life doesn't always end with a wedding and a big Broadway style finale.

The original Cinderella and Snow White were tales about girls who were abused, kids who got knocked around by life, kids who'd lost their moms and had awful unfair stuff happen to them, but who didn't let those things make them mean and bitter and in the end, they were rewarded for their kindness. Those stories made me, as a child in very similar circumstances, want to be a better person. They gave me hope when times were tough that if I could be strong and stick it out that I'd be able to have a happily ever after too. I still feel that way.

But the new versions of the princesses focus so much on appearance and materialism. It really disappoints me. Disney, as much as I love you, especially your music, you really kind of suck sometimes, although Tiana and Merida have somewhat redeemed you. Somewhat. I'm pretty big on Tiana because she works hard and her goal is to own her own restaurant, which I think is pretty ass kicking.

I like warrior princesses instead.

I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey. I watched Star Wars. There was no greater princess in the galaxy than Princess Leia, who started an entire revolution against her own father and lost not just her family, but her whole freaking planet and still remained strong. That's a hell of a role model there.

I like princesses who take up arms to save their kingdoms and princesses who aren't concerned solely with getting married. I want my daughter to be as princessy as she wants but to learn to be a warrior too.

Maybe in life I haven't been enough of a warrior myself. Maybe I too bought into the notion that a handsome prince would come and save me and that everything would be perfect happily ever after. Maybe I believed marriage was the be all and end all.

I grew up seeing my dad do everything for my mom and my grandfather do everything for my grandmother. My grandmother, to this day, cannot balance a checkbook, pay her own bills or even put gas in her car because my grandfather did all that for her.

My mom is much better. She manages a little more, but lately I've noticed that I'm not doing my best either. I let my husband do all the things that I consider "hard" or "what men do" and I don't want my daughter to view me as weak or dependent. I want her to grow up seeing me as a confident role model, not someone who can't pick up a tool, fix the wireless or take out the trash or figure out what to do about the car making a funny noise.

I'm working on this. I really am and I'm starting small.

I'm conquering the grill.

Recently I've had a craving for grilled food. We haven't grilled anything on our grill in over a year. My husband is the grill master and whenever I wanted something grilled I'd ask him, but his schedule doesn't always allow him to be home in time for dinner, plus he is often exhausted and doesn't want to go slave over a hot grill so I can have some fish when he gets home from work.

So why can't I just learn to use the grill myself? Silly, isn't it? But I'm petrified of the stupid grill. It's big and scary and intimidating sitting out on the back patio. I don't know how to turn it on or get the gas tank hooked up to it. Everything about the grill completely freaks me out.

Yet I imagine all the yummy things I could make on it if I could conquer my fear and learn how to use the damned thing, and so my current goal is to go get a new propane tank, learn to hook it up, learn to turn on the grill and because a grill master myself.

Snow White could totally grill some veggies out there, right? 

To meet my (self-determined) sales goal this month I really need to sell just 9 more books! Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat is a great, quick, fun read and for Halloween, there's even a scary scene! Would you please help me out by sharing my link and telling all your friends that they absolutely HAVE to read this book? Or else Zombies will bite them? And of course, if you haven't bought it yourself, what are you waiting for?? You'll love it!


Anonymous said...

I have two words for you: Princess Merida. Seriously. Get a copy of 'Brave' and a Merida doll, ideally the one with the working bow and arrows and her horse. Every woman in my family (from Grandma to little baby cousin who is only just two years old,) loves the movie and Princess Merida is unique in that she really doesn't give a damn about princessing, but she DOES hunt, ride and climb mountains without anyone seeing this as strange. Sure, her mother wishes she could be more proper, but eventually they sort that out. That, and watching itty-bitty girls steal plaid throws off the couch for a tartan and do Scottish accents while waving Nerf swords and toy arrows about like wee Highlanders is simply hilarious. (That, and little cousin has decided Scotty from 'Star Trek' is related to Merida and that she therefore wants to be 'a engineer, in space,' when she grows up.)

Specs said...

Whenever Little Lawns is older, I highly recommend anything Tamora Pierce! She has kick-ass female heroes in nearly every one of her books, from lady knights who hide their gender to get into knighthood to ones who speak with animals to a group of young mages learning their own powers. Very good stuff and very diverse. Plus they're a really fun read for adults, too. My Kindle is overflowing with the digital copies I've bought to replace my physical books!

kerry said...

I'm with you. Disney princess stuff lets kids dream, ok cool, but I also prefer the less sanitized versions. People think I'm nuts when I talk about the modern princess stuff teaching girls bad habits and expectations, but we do mirror what we see. It does help if parents talk to kids, discuss what the characters do and if they think it's ok or not, but even so... this stuff gets in.

Your little girl is lucky you are such an aware parent and will watch out for what she learns.

Anonymous said...

Grilling really isn't that bad once you get used to it. I do it all the time now. I also mow the lawn and stuff like that because I like it. Gets me out of housework : )

Anonymous said...

A story for Millie and all the other little princesses: "The Princess Who Kicked Butt."



spiffikins said...

My mom was *awesome* - she would bust out the power tools and build things when they needed to be built! She taught be that I didn't have to wait around and depend on a man to do anything - I could learn to do it myself.

Now, that grill - I'm in the same boat as you :) I would love to have the option to grill things - but I'm deeply afraid of the whole thing, and have always been - but I'm determined to conquer this!

catherine said...

You have to get copies of this set of books about a satirical look at fairytales. It's above Baby Lawns, but you will love them! :D http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politically_Correct_Bedtime_Stories

Anonymous said...

You know, Hans Christian Andersen believed that The Little Mermaid actually had a happy ending, because even though she died, she ended up having a soul and going to heaven instead of ending up as sea foam. Andersen was pretty depressed, so it makes sense that he'd think it was a "happy" ending. :/

As for other Disney princesses, Mulan is pretty much the most kick-ass princess in the Disney galaxy. You can't get much better than a warrior who saves China! My daughter loves her.

Anonymous said...

I was and am a girly girl. My favorite toy was a giant Barbie head..you could do her hair and make up.

However, that aside, my idol growing up was Clara Barton. She was short (like me), tough (unlike me)...she taught a one room school house, could let the boys know she meant business, and as a nurse fought to be on the front lines during the Civil War, and founded the Red Cross.

I just want to let you know that we girly girls do admire strong women.

You are very honest, diverse and have amazing stories to share. I'm pretty sure your daughter will write about you some day.

Oh, and most people do not remember this, but I loved Leslie Ann Warren in a very early version of Cinderella. It isn't discussed much, but it is worth watching if you can find it.

carrie said...

Not sure if you have read this yet, but it was really helpful for me when I already had gone through most of the princess stuff with her. It put some perspective on it as far as the rationale and marketing aspects,but I didn't agree entirely with it. It was also a bit militant and you could tell by reading it that the author herself was trying to figure out the balance. I still do and basically didn't allow Brats in my house and then my good friend gave me her literal genius daughters' dolls and we took them, but we had discussions about they way they were dressed. Every thing that appears on the outside to be uncomfortable may potentially be a time to talk and be "real". Here's the book I am referring to: http://www.amazon.com/Cinderella-Ate-Daughter-Dispatches-Girlie-Girl/dp/0061711535

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