What does it mean to be a princess today?
For kids, it likely means following in the footsteps of Disney’s princesses. Take the young royals Elsa and Anna from “Frozen,” who are icing the competition when it comes to toy sales, Bloomberg reported.
But a debate has sparked in recent weeks about what Disney princesses do to young girls, who idolize these heroines and try their best to become them while playing and in life.
Princess stories often end with a happily ever after, something that is giving young girls a distorted view of the world, wrote Anna Wussmann for The Federalist. They become selfish, thinking they’re at the center of the world, Wussman wrote.
“The princess fantasy lures little girls in with shiny rhinestones and simultaneously tells them everything that they already believe. In a sense it is developmentally appropriate,” Wussmann wrote. “However, the job of adults is not merely to mirror children back to themselves. Our job is to help them mature and grow beyond the narcissism of babyhood.”
That’s not the only world Disney princess create. Abby Beach of The Daily Emerald said that because today’s young girls are so interested in becoming princesses like Disney portrays, they believe in a world that’ll never come. They search for a happily ever after, which is as unrealistic as a magic carpet, she wrote.
“To the young children watching these movies, Disney is sending the message that if you’re ever in a bad situation, just wait for your prince to come along and whisk you away,” Beach wrote. “Life is not about waiting for your prince to come to your rescue. Life is about making things happen for yourself and being happy with your own accomplishments, not relying on others to create your own happiness.”
But Amy Otto of The Federalist doesn’t see it that way. She said people should believe in being a princess as it’s a harmless act for young girls to idolize these characters. In fact, by telling young girls not to be princesses, it might be hindering them for life, Otto wrote.
“Princesses stand out,” she wrote. “They’re an aspiration. A glamorous figure that, while unobtainable, largely has purpose. If we shield people from glamorous figures because we don’t want them to be let down when they fail, what do we tell people really? Dream smaller, or don’t dream at all because you wouldn’t want to fail.”
So what should parents do? Do they let their young girls idolize someone who they can never become and dream of a world that’ll never exist? Or should girls embrace these characters and learn from them?
Otto wrote it should be a bit of both.
“We should be raising girls tough enough to see a Disney princess and say she’s pretty and move along with their daily lives,” Otto’s article read. “We can’t do that by hiding them from her as a girl. As a woman you are going to run into millions of situations in life where you aren’t the funniest, most attractive, kindest, or best-dressed woman in the room. It’s better to accept that as true and develop some resilience about it than to let it bother you.”