Last year, if you asked the Twinadoes what they wanted to be when they grew up Izzy would tell you she wanted to be ‘in a show at night and an architect in the day’ and Zoe wanted to work in a ‘computer lab’. Now if you ask them what they want to be they both fall over themselves to tell you – they want to be princesses, live in a castle and marry a prince. WHAT????
What happened to my strong minded, independent young women? What happened to the two girls who aspired to do great things? A year ago there was no talk of weddings and husbands and happy castle-making, yet now that is all they talk about, think about and roll play. How on earth did this happen? How did my house – me, who really dislikes ‘character’ branded toys and clothes, me, who doesn’t allow her children to watch commercial television, me who’s girls don’t even own a Barbie – how did my house become filled with the Disney Princesses?
I guess it started a long long time ago really. The girls were not even three when we were given two hand-me-down dress-up dresses, both Disney brand, one Tinkerbelle and one Cinderella. While I wouldn’t have chosen to buy these dresses I was more than happy to welcome into our house, they had been much loved by their former owner and were embraced with much joy by my girls. At the time they paid no attention to the Disney characters on the front of them, they were simply two lovely new dress-ups. Credit where credit is due to Disney also – they really are well made dresses, they have been worn and washed and worn and washed and only needed a minor repair here and there.
Back when the girls were still young and naive.. ahem.. sheltered… ahem.. just young.. back then, they didn’t know who Cinderella was nor Tinkerbelle, but it came to pass (now I am talking like a fairy tale!) that friends of ours went on a special holiday to Disneyland and their little girl came home full of wonderful, exciting stories of castles and princesses to share with the Twinadoes. Suddenly they became aware of just who these people were on the front of their beloved dresses and they were in love.
For months and months neither would answer unless you called them Tink or Cinderella. Now days you have to run through the whole list of princess names until you guess the right one. Having to take off their dresses was like peeling off a layer of skin, complete with the accompanied screaming and crying. We can not drive past a church or any building that even remotely looks castle-like without squealing from the back of the big white van; “Oooooh look Cinderella castle!” They dream of the day that they can go to Disneyland and meet ‘the real Tinkerbelle’.
Slowly but surely more and more of ‘The Princesses’ have crept into our house. We reconciled Zoe with the Little Mermaid DVD when she was waiting for her dental surgery. (Interestingly, you can count the number of times our children have been majorly ill by the number of kids DVDs we have ever bought!) A Christmas gift of the Cinderella three pack DVD (who knew Cinderella was a trilogy?). Another Christmas gift with giant Disney Colouring pages. Birthday money which I begrudgingly let them spend on whatever book they wanted – Cinderella and Tinkerbelle of course! A lucky find Peter Pan DVD that someone had thrown out – how could I say no to such serendipity?
The last straw came the other day when Nanny bought them Disney Princess undies! Yes, my children can now choose from the whole range of Disney Princesses to wear on their little bums! Kill me now.
I have tried hard to steer them into more generic (and acceptable to me) ideas of castles, princesses and queens etc. We got out the wooden castle blocks, bought generic crowns and tiaras, all of which are loved but all of which play their part in whatever the current story is to be. Cinderella today? Or maybe Ariel? We even got down the big fat fairy tale book and began reading the original versions of each story, hoping they was less focussed on the whole ‘I must be the most beautiful female in all the land’. To my horror most of them are worse! I cringed as I read how not only did Snow White have to be the most beautiful but that she could now, finally be happy because her prince as the most handsome and had the largest and most beautiful castle…. because you know, who’d want to live in a small cottage with seven short guys who work hard every day just to put food on the table???
Now their plans for the future involve living in a Castle. A three bedroom castle to be exact. One bedroom for them – with two bunk beds so they can both sleep on the top bunk. One bedroom for Muski and one bedroom for me, for when I come to visit. They also want to have a wedding, with a prince each – though interestingly there is no place for these prince’s to sleep in that castle of theirs. Sometimes the plan involves them both having ‘two babies at the same time’ (not sure why but they hardly ever use the word ‘twins’) but it always involves lots of pretty dresses and being happy little home makers….
Oh hang on a second…. they want to grow up, find a great guy to share their lives with, have kids, live in a nice house and stay home looking after it all… um… er… ahem… I guess that is what I do isn’t it? Ok so this house is no where near a castle and while the Baldy Guy is lovely, he isn’t exactly a prince (no offence hon, but you lack the buckets and buckets of money, not to mention the thick dark hair) but I guess my life is not so different from the Twinadoe’s fantasy.
Ok so I still don’t like the Disney Princesses marketing the importance of beauty to my four year olds, and I really don’t see why they need to have them printed on their underwear…. but I shall admit that I am not totally against the idea of my daughters growing up into happy little castle-makers – if that is what makes them happy, besides in the current housing market they are going to have to be a Dr or a Lawyer first to afford anything that is even close to a castle! And heck, I’ll be right there with them at Disney Land if we ever get to go…. I want to ride the tea-cups!
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I have been thinking about this of late, I read the original ‘fairy tales’ and CRINGE, i keep wondering how I can bring it up in conversation about how we are strong and certainly don’t need no handsome prince to make things right.
Thankfully Lauren hasn’t really seemed too overcome by it, sure her play has princes and princesses but she also watched barbie and barbie is usually the heroine, i mean sure there are princes, but barbie often rescues him hehe.
Actually yk I have never asked her what she wants to do with her life …. I wonder if she will ‘get’ the concept yet. Hmmm ponderings
Alison (3xkewl) says
Oh dear. That sounds a lot like the fairy take over in our house.
At least you’ll have a room in their castle :)
Oh nooo I will run away and hide what sort of monster did I create lol
So beautiful though I love hearing how they change their minds. E wants to be so many different things when he grows up actually maybe I should blog those discussions to have something to be greatful for :)
I enjoyed this post a lot and it reminded me of some of my kids. Kids at this age do become slightly obsessive with their likes (and dislikes). Boys will often do the superhero or Buzz Lightyear thing.
I didn’t allow my boys to have the superman dress ups or even watch the cartoons, but they would still bring me a cloth nappy and ask me to tie it on like a cape!
A very lovely preschool teacher once told me that the important thing is monitoring their exposure to this type of stuff – plenty of reality and a small dose of fantasy. And it sounds like your girls get that.
We’ve told the grandparents that we don’t want any branded toys or clothes, but I know that such obsessions are bound to occur. *sigh*
I so relate to this Kate!. Guerita is OBSESSED with the Disney princesses and I have really struggled with whether to resist it and ban it from the house or to just let it run its course. I mean, I’m pretty sure she’s not still going to want to be a princess by the time she’s 15. I don’t want to make a big deal about it and therefore make it more attractive and interesting.
I find it almost impossible to shield her from Disney, Barbie etc because there is SO much exposure to it here. Absolutely everything is branded and all the other girls at school have it all, so she knew all about it before it was ever mentioned in our house. I refuse to buy her anything Barbie, but she received 4 for her last birthday and will no doubt get more for her 5th in a few weeks. I must admit I have succumbed since we’ve been here and let her watch the Disney princess movies and I agree the original fairytales and also the original movies, like Snow White, are really scary and violent! My father in law is remarried so we have had to tread very carefully with the concept of the evil stepmother!!
We just recently decided to have a few days in Disneyland on our way back to Australia, since we are going through LA and we agonised a fair bit about it because we were reluctant to buy into the whole Disney bandwagon. But in the end we decided that provided we are giving her the reality grounding on a regular basis a few fun experiences of fantasy are not going to hurt. I know that she is going to LOVE Disneyland and while that makes me feel a bit sad that she will embrace the princess fantasy so much, I’m also trying not to get too worried about it.
As for wanting to be a princess when she grows up, Guerita does say that but its different every day and its just as likely to be a pilot or a scientist or a teacher any other day, so I’m glad about that. The main thing I try to keep a lid on is how much importance she places on being pretty. If she asks me if I think she’s pretty I say “yes, but I also think you’re kind and generous and smart and…”
*sigh* sorry I’ve rambled on! There’s always so much to worry about bringing up kids, isn’t there?
lol I remembering kyboshing ‘Salina’s princess fantasy one day.
She said (in a dreamy tone) “wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a princess?”
I said (in a less dreamy one) “I would hate having everyone wanting to know everything about me. You would get hassled all the time, be all over the magazines, you wouldn’t know who your friends really were, people would make stuff up and tell lies about you. I would really hate that.”
Princesses sort of faded after that little jading…