Photo Credit: Disney
From the moment she was old enough to pronounce “Belle,” my daughter was a Disney Princess fanatic -- much to the chagrin of my wife and me. We were the kind of couple who planned to raise our children completely outside of gender stereotypes -- no pink vs. blue, no dolls vs. trucks -- but it was all for naught. Bryn, our daughter, was hooked on all things princessy from the age of about two-and-a-half right up until she was six. She watched all the Disney princess movies, she wore princess costumes around the house, she dressed and re-dressed princess figures, she forced us to read lousy picture-book adaptations of princess movies over and over. We reluctantly gave in -- even to the point of sitting through a “princess breakfast” with her at Disney World. And now that the first new Disney princess movie is premiering within her lifetime, she is refusing to see it.
When we first heard about The Princess and the Frog, we thought it would be the highlight of Bryn’s year. But by the time it actually hit screens, she’d done a complete one-eighty. At seven, she’s reached an age when one’s personal identity starts becoming important. Having gotten so tightly associated with Disney princesses by relatives and friends over the years, she got old enough to resent it. And when a 7-year-old girl decides she doesn’t like something anymore, she cuts off all ties. The princess nightgown, the princess blankets, the dolls -- gone. "They’re for babies," we’ve been told. And she does not want her peers to see her entering a theater to see The Princess and the Frog. I can’t help but wonder what the marketing minds at Disney would think if they could see how their relentless princess push has led to such a backlash.
The problem is that, by all reports, The Princess and the Frog is really good. And the rest of the family wants to see it. So we’re dragging Bryn along with us. Quite unbelievably, we had to have a talk with her about how she shouldn’t assume a movie will be bad just because it has a princess in it. We told her to judge the film on its own merits and not on some pre-existing anti-princess bias. At this point, I have no idea if she’ll actually be capable of that. Oh, Disney, what have you done?