Or as my mother said after watching “Cinderella” with us one rainy afternoon: “no wonder a generation of women were so messed up.”
Full disclosure: we pretty much consider most of the Disney animated classics (new and old) with a woman at the center, as princess movies. And our kids love them; Magnolia AND Jasper. “Cinderella” is a particular favorite, and “Mulan” is climbing the charts.
I’ve been a little uneasy with our capitulation to the crown, and so I enlisted some trusted moms to tell me what they thought of them, good and bad. And, as usual, I got back thoughtful responses. Some felt that the power of example in their daughter’s lives was far more influential than any movie could ever be.
Far more damaging to my daughter’s future sense of self, in my opinion, are the people who meet her and only comment on her looks: “You are such a pretty child!” I always follow up comments like that with “… And she’s good at math and science.”
Other mothers thought the princess movies were pure evil.
I tend to side with the first mom and think that a little magic isn’t a bad thing.
So here, without further philosophizing, is the list of our favorite princess movies:
The Best of the Lot:
Mulan: I think it took us a while to come around to this one because the princess doesn’t wear a traditional ball gown. In the end, J & M were lured in by the story, heart, and adventure of this off-beat, cross-dressing princess. Plus side: A view of another culture and country little kids haven’t seen before, a girls-can-do-it message (save your family/country/ride a horse/use a sword/compete with boys/etc). Negative side: Ignoring the directions of your elders doesn’t sit well with me. Though I suppose some might see that as a plus.
Cinderella: Pure magic for the 3-5 set, and the adults who watch with them. Cinderella is incredibly good-tempered (even the bratty cat gets her good grace), and there’s a bippity boppity boo Fairy Godmother to whip things into shape. The whole transformation process — Cinderella to Cinderwowza-super-princess and back again — is enchanting and fun fantasy. Plus side: Cinderella exudes optimism, practices good manners, sticks by her friends, and follows her curfew. Negative side: No one wants their kids to think that a prince will save them from their dreary (read: everyday) existence.
Barbie and the Three Musketeers: The Barbie movies were recommended to us by a couple of people (always with the comment “I was surprised, but…”), so we checked them out. And you know what? They are okay. This one is a favorite in the house because of the sword-fighting (a crowd-pleaser for kids, and the lack of singing (a crowd-pleaser for adults). Plus side: The ladies are either avid readers, musician, or into sports (or all of these), and value friendship (“all for one”) over “getting the guy.” There’s a healthy dose of adventure, the usual Lesson of Life that seems to come with children’s movies, and Jasper doesn’t mind watching it — at least, so far. Negative side: The singing, though as mentioned earlier, there is not as much in this one as there is in some other Barbie productions (beware The Diamond Castle).
Here’s to happily ever after.