I love fairy tales and we all love happy endings but are we imparting wrong values to our young girls as we hand them Barbie dolls and entertain them with stories of Jasmine, Ariel, Snow White and Cinderella. We have seen them singing and dancing away with forest animals, pixies, fairies and nymphs; we have observed them being trapped in castles by wicked witches land flounder like dainty damsel in distress. We have definitely been a part of their journey that promised happy endings where the unfortunate princess-in-distress is rescued by a very handsome prince (who happens to very rich owning a mammoth mansion, flying carpets, and who is strangely single as well).
In fact, let’s confess, we have all dressed up as Barbie or our favorite Disney Princess countless times as children however is Barbie or Disney princesses make good role models for young girls? Little girls watch and play with them and even aspire to look, act and lead a ‘fairy tale’ life. Well, I will give you five reasons why our pretty (and unnaturally slim) dolls and animation royalty are bad role models.
They always look perfect (No matter what)
All our Disney princesses and Barbie are fair, tall, with ultra-slim waists. They essentially define size zero. None of them actually do anything apart from looking pretty and acting dim-witted. With perfect make-up that does not wither away in pollution free fairy land, they are timeless beauties!
And what more-anything that is ugly and old is classified as evil. How convenient! Thankfully, we do have some exceptions like Mulan and Pochantos, who actually do something other than just play dead and wait for a random prince to come along and kiss you. In the case of Barbie there isn’t even a story line just dressing up and going out with Ken (her ‘prop’ boyfriend for parties, to the country club for tennis or shopping).
They always do whatever they are told not to
Look at Snow White! I mean, aren’t you running away from a wicked witch, hiding with the dwarves. Why would you then accept an apple from a strange old woman? Most of the princesses behave like five-year-olds and do the exact opposite of what they are told to do. This is fine, at least they have a ‘mind’ of their own to put into work, and risk but unarguably, the mind invites incorrigible problems! As a result, unfortunate situations arrive in a loop from which they have to be rescued!
They Have No Career Aspirations
So, they are: Beauty without Brains! No career aspirations, no hobbies, nothing to do, all they have to do is sit and wait for the perfect man (read: rich dude) to come along. And “doctor Barbie” is somehow not very convincing. She remains the iconic party girl in pink. Back to the Disney story line – let’s assume the prince does come along and the princesses get married. (In the modern context: becoming desirable in the marriage market!) But have they ever thought what happens if the prince dies in a war or an evil villain kills him? What would the princesses be doing after that? One has to question this predictable happily ever after ending for every story.
They are forever waiting for their “Prince Charming”
Time seems to get standstill as the princesses eternally wait! Oh come on! Can’t you just for once rescue yourself, instead of waiting for some rich kid to do it for you? I know it’s convenient, but where is the spunk? While there is nothing wrong in waiting for the perfect person to come around, I think women should know that they should be saving themselves instead of waiting for a superhero to do it for them. And let’s get real: there is nothing called a perfect Prince Charming!!!
Once they get Prince Charming, their mantra “ditch everyone else”
Ariel, also known as the “Little Mermaid” is one example of someone who is completely selfish. She leaves her loving father to run after a guy she’s barely seen and once she gets him, it is goodbye to everyone she knows. Certainly not something you want to teach children. Oh, did somebody ask what the prince thought about it?
We all remember watching these princesses who are slim, rosy-cheeked, and so beautiful. Unfortunately, as you grow up you realize, these role models only build preposterous expectations that no one can fulfill. Yes, they are meant for children, but let’s not condone these unrealistic expectations and bad lessons. But yes, there are real life princesses who are bold, individualistic, independent and contribute tremendously to social and economic development in their countries and internationally. Time for a paradigm shift – next time you want to gift a barbie to a five year old you might want to reconsider. Perhaps a set of boxing gloves or a chemistry set would be a better idea.
By Parul Solanki
Image Source: Paris Hilton: The Ultimate Disney Princess
Katrina Kaif: The Indianized Barbie Doll
Running after the Train: Only Chivalrous Act By The Damsel in Distress
Waiting for Prince Charming-Kangana
Holding Onto Fairy-tales: Deepika
Floral Barbie Soaked In Red: Amrita Rao
Aishwariya in Her Mermaid Attire