During a recent trip to the grocery store, while experiencing a certain degree of stress, strife, and desperation, I bribed Ellie with a box of Disney Princess Fruit Snacks. (Now with fruitier fruit-ishness!) It was either the fruit snacks or a carton of Camels, so I think I made the best parenting choice available, OK?
She clutched the giant pink box to her chest and declared, "Oh, I love them!" And I thought, "Great. Now, let's finish shopping before your brother loses it while we play a game called Follow Right Here Behind Me And Don't Touch Anything And If You Whine Even Once That Box Is Getting Flung All The Way To Hardware, So Help Me Disney."
At home later that morning, she enjoyed a pouch of fruity anti-feminism as I unpacked the groceries. I noticed that she was closely inspecting each piece before eating it. "Mama?" she asked. "This...is...Cinderella?"
I went over to have a look, and this is what I found:
Behold: the terrifying, grinning visage of Skeletella. Or perhaps CinderZombie. (She dances with you until midnight, then eats your brains!) And, lest you think this was an isolated example:
Since I've spent the better part of this post proudly displaying macro photography of fruit snacks, I will compensate by linking to the excellent New York Times piece about the Disney Princess juggernaut. I first read it when Ellie was just a baby, and you can still view the full article here.
I have a serious aversion to the glut of Princess merchandise on the market, but I will admit my distaste is largely aesthetic and involves a violent allergy to pink and purple plastic. We've let Ellie watch many of the old Disney movies, including Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, and though the stories are pretty lean and hinge on an admittedly yucky precept (If you're beautiful and sweet, everything will work out fine, and by "fine" we mean "married!"), I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them with her. They are visually stunning films, truly, with great art direction and sweet music and pretty, pretty dresses. Did I say that out loud?
But really, at the end of the day, here's the reason I personally don't stress over the Princess phenomenon all that much: Ellie is far less enamored of the princesses than she is of the villains, witches, dragons, and cartoon mice. If they made a Maleficent or Evil Queen fruit snack, she would be all over that. (And, on second thought, maybe they do and that's what I bought. Ah-ha!)
So, what do you think? Are the Disney Princesses harmless, girlie fun or repellent, esteem-stunting garbage? Somewhere in between?
And, also, would you care for a fruit snack?