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The “New” Princess for Children Is Nothing New At All

By Julia Bluhm

Let’s face it, lots of little girls love princesses. I’m not saying all do… but lots do. They see all the commercials, all the dolls in the store windows, they read all the picture books, and the “I love princesses” epidemic gets screwed into their minds. Princesses are kind, loving, and nice. That’s good…unless it’s all they are.

Princesses never really do anything, at least not the traditional Disney princesses that we know. They use their good looks and sweet charms, and their problems in the story are instantly resolved by the falling in love of a prince. This teaches girls that the most important things are looks and men, which is a huge lie. Girls can do so much when they’re not focused on being a traditional petite-and-pretty princess.

After years of getting on Disney’s case about their helpless female characters and all of the perfect princesses that send the wrong messages, they’re finally showing new bold alternatives. At least we hope. However, their next alternative leaves me a bit worried: Sofia the First.

Sofia is the latest edition to the Disney royal family, marketed towards younger girls. Disney is assuring parents that there will still be “plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes” but with a new message: “What makes a princess is what’s on the inside, not the outside.” What I’m wondering is… Why princess? We should say “what makes a strong, powerful girl is what’s on the inside, not the outside!” And she looks very similar to the Disney princess repertoire: skinny, white, and beautiful.

And why princesses? Why do we need to keep creating these characters that are known for being just cute, beautiful, tender…and rich? So many girls compare themselves to these images and see that they don’t fit the criteria.

Disney, she’s still a princess, and she’s still all about the looks and the beauty. It’s even worse now, because she’s a baby who’s about the looks and beauty. Maybe there’s no prince or kissing, and maybe her life will not be about romance and the fancy ball, but all girls are smart and beautiful, not just princesses.

We know that if  “Sofia the First” was to grow up, she’d be a princess like any other. She’d still fall in love with some prince, live happily ever after in some expensive castle, and that would be the end of her story. That’s always where it ends with princesses — a kiss from a prince and accomplishing absolutely nothing. This isn’t the life we want for the girls of our generation — and definitely not for our younger generation.

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4 Responses to “The “New” Princess for Children Is Nothing New At All”

  1. It’s even more insidious then her looks: “With the help of the three familiar fairies in charge of the Royal Training Academy — Flora, Fauna and Merryweather…..Sofia learns that looking like a princess isn’t all that hard but behaving like one must come from the heart” Source: http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Sofia_the_First

    Apparently she needs “training” to learn how to “behave”. ugh!

  2. This is so well stated! A choice between the traditional Disney Princesses and Princess Sofia sounds like a choice between Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. Just because one has a bit less of the bad stuff doesn’t make it healthy.

    Related to this, yesterday, I posted to my blog about gender-divisive children’s culture–how we got here and why we need to fight back. Hint: It’s Disney, Disney, Disney. http://rebeccahains.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/chess-for-girls-or-how-saturday-night-live-predicted-the-future/

    Sigh.

  3. Stevens F. says:

    Julia, Perhaps we should just wait until the show debuts before we cast judgment about what the main character may or may not represent. It sounds to me like Sofia will be a very intelligent, strong, kind-hearted young girl, who would make an excellent role model.

  4. What about the princess who saved herself? Methinks I love feminist fairy tales. I want more of them.

    TRiG.

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