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January 22, 2008

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pnuts mama

not to mention how the name "mulan" is the closest thing to the racial pejorative word that tons of idiotic white people around here use for asians. i'll *never* be able to wrap my mind around that.

sigh. we too question the marketing practices of most corporations and weigh them with the happiness of our kid- it's a fine line between teaching your kid about truth in advertising/social justice and having your kid be the weird pariah who isn't allowed to eat anything but carob chips and play with sticks.

i'm much more opposed to the "princess mentality" that is so effing prevalent around the metronyc area- i don't care if my kid wants to use her imagination and pretend to be a princess (or whatever), but there are girls/teenagers/women who are convinced that they ARE princesses- and that, to me, is a whole different kind of evil that i need to protect my kid against.

really great post.

Stefanie

I agree with most of what you said except for the Snow White part. You sorely underestimate the courage it takes to dust.

mom2skye

As an asian american girl growing up among blond barbies in the midwest- I have to confess i still feel sad when i remember my 6 yo old blonde friend showing me her "ugly" cinderella doll with black, hair (like me) and wearing rags , and the reformed "princess" one who was blonde and wore a ball gown and jewels..childhood images do have an impact. Not being able to escape the Disney princess thing as a parent-they're on her pull-ups! We've developed our own explanation of a princess for our 2 yo as a girl who is brave, smart and strong.

jenny m.

I've always made an effort to steer my 3 yo daughter away from the princess thing, giving her lots of trains and cars and blocks to play with, and less so the girlie dolls. And it worked...for awhile. Then, her friends got into the princess thing and she was asking for all things princess. I did my best, but then realized how happy it made her to wear a tiara, and confess there are more Disney items entering this house than I would like. However, she still hasn't seen the movies, nor read any of the stories. And when I play with her, I like to pretend that the princesses are doctors or blasting off to the moon. Unfortunately, she replies with a "princesses don't do that"! Damn you, Disney!

Linda

As always, love your post. I refuse to buy dolls or dress my girls in any of the Disney Princess characters (I caved in with Dora, ugh). Friends though, have given them Dora and Barbie dolls as gifts, but the girls only play with it in less than a week. It always ends up in the bottom of the toy box (and in the trash or freecycled). Great thing about my parents, they'd rather give their grandchildren clothes or money and leave the toy shoppings up to us!

BTW, my parent company is Disney and let me just say, THEY SUCK. I've been a freelancer for months now and they have yet to give me full-time benefits, even though I'm doing the job. They can't get their shit straight!

PS- Found out you're an old friend of my ex-colleague- L.Max. Small world!

PPS- Saw you in Tribeca this past summer when Peanut shouted, "Two girls!" Remember that?

SPT

Funny. I'm a Disney employee also and I have to admit (anonymously, of course) that the company will not rest until they have successfully completed world domination.

Don't believe me? Check out today's WSJ.

Little Bird

Umm.. second comment on this post here, but I have a question. What racial slur is so very close to "mulan"??
I am of anglo background, and am apparently blissfully unaware of such things. Yes, I know a few, I do actually live in society. And society will not let one go without ruining somethings for us. What I've never gotten is why.

Sadie

My parents never let me play with Barbie dolls or Disney princesses. Instead my mother made me homemade dolls by herself.

Was I angry about it as a young girl? Sure. But now, I'm really glad my parents didn't succumb to the demands of a child influenced by peer pressure. Their adherence to their principles means a lot to me.

Childsplayx2

Well, I was going to ask you if you wanted to join us on a Disney cruise, but if getting drunk with Donald Duck doesn't do it for you, then I don't think we can be friends.

Geoffrey B

Great post. My wife and I have struggled with this whole Princess phenomenon before. Thanks for helping to keep it all in perspective.

Tony

I think the key question that no one has mentioned is: "what IS the best way to fart on a dog?"

Lena

I JUST noticed that you filed this under the category "Don't think too much, Einstein" and your Technorati tag was "Sometimes a princess is just a princess"

Hilarious, MD! It's that subtle humor that keeps bringing me back here for more.

R.Jacobson

Glad you're thinking about these things now, MD. I've got to tell you. They'll multiply exponentially as the Peanut gets older and discovers American Girl dolls, Bratz, or High School Musical (more Disney!)

Keep doing what you're doing. Don't make too big a deal out of all of it but don't turn a blind eye either.

Great post!

R2Dad

This situation recurs frequently at our house: Parents hem and haw about this toy or that food--then the relatives go out and buy the damn stuff regardless. At least you bought what the Peanut wanted, MD--better than having the relatives foist some useless toy or inedible food on your kid AND say something offensive like, "we didn't want your kid to be deprived, so we bought them (crap)". Is it so wrong to want to beat your family member with the arm that you ripped off their torso?

No More Thomas

The only marketing which really worked on my boys so far has been Thomas. One day you wake up and ask, "Why do I have hundreds of dollars worth of trains and tracks in the apartment?"

AllisonWonder

Great post- you're too funny!

I always thought the Siamese cats came from Lady and the Tramp...

Average Fatty

"average American woman is 5' 4", weighs 145 lbs., and wears between a size 11-14." The average American man or woman is fat, and except for the relatively few with thyroid problems, they are that way because they have no self-control. Even though I don't like Disney, buying a princess doll instead of twenty orders of Mickey D's fries would be the better of two evils.

ella

I didn't quite realize how inundated we are with kid's marketing (Disney, Thomas, American Girl, etc.) until this past summer when we went to stay with my brother's family in Ireland. My kids were amazed that their cousins didn't have all they crap that they did.

Once they got over their shell shock, my kids adapted and did the same things as their cousins (like made their own dolls and build their own toy trains.) They had so much fun that when we came back, they never really looked at their cheap, mass-produced plastic toys again!

Xdm

As god as my witness, i will never buy Lulu a Cinderella Princess Doll.*
* Please send me this post in another two years to remind me of how I have caved. The moulded pink plastic Princess Beauty Salon will be next for the P. Stand firm, my friend!!

Deanna

So, Ane just had her 4th birthday, and it was princess, princess, princess. I even made her a castle cake, with princess figurines on it. However, she swings wildly between her princess obsession, her American Girl baby doll, her love of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and her blue lightsaber. I'm trying to raise a well-rounded girl (perhaps one who can use the Force as well).

My favorite princess has always been Belle. Intelligent, well-read, sacrifices herself to free her father and is eventually rewarded for that selfless act. Compared to the rest of the princesses, she stands out far above crowd. And that yellow dress ain't too bad, either - it's Ane's favorite.

Lisa K.

I need to forward this to my parents. They've given my daughters so much Disney crap, you'd think they work for the company. Or are shareholders.

alice, uptwon

Way to go MD. As a child (of the 1960s), we had one Disney show a week (The Wonderful World of Disney) on Sunday nights, and it was considered a treat to stay up after bedtime on a school night.

I think the Disney-fication of the world has made anything stamped with the Mouse seal-of-approval completely suspect. As a kid, I was a kid -- not a demographic. (Don't ever watch the Disney channel -- use those parental control devices where they are needed, and the Mouse and offspring 24/7 require it).

The only mouse in my house is known as "mini," for the size of computer she accommodates.

And what have they done to our Times Square? Sure, the neighborhood was a little, shall we say, dicey? -- but it kept the tourists in their place, far away from me.

BBBBBetty

Once again, it's posts like this that show why you're the best daddy blogger around. Great post, MD. Enjoyed hearing that from the male perspective.

Sheri

We own all the Disney movies. We've been to DW 5 times in the past 8 years. I can only dream about the princess toys since our family is comprised of me (the only female), dh and 3 crazy boys. Call me crazy, but I don't get all the Disney rs. We had a great time on our vacations there, it is one of the few places our 18 yr old AND our 3 and 5 year olds can visit and have a great time.

AmyG

I've been a reader for quite a while, but have never commented prior to today. I personally find Disney somewhat nauseating. And while I can't imagine banning pink clothes (we live in the midwest - black is goth! :)), I have forbid clothing with licensed charaters. As the mother of two girls (1 and almost 3), I'm starting to feel the princess pressure from my oldest. My husband and I are with you - if our girls become issue-prone because of their toys, we have more than Disney to blame. Great post!

chunky930

you should look into a documentary called mickey mouse monopoly. scary stuff.

Jozet at Halushki

You know...it's an important issue, but it's not an important issue.

I do think that the messages to young girls out there to look and dress a certain way begin early, and by 2nd grade, we see a lot of young girls making friends and shunning other girls based upon who is wearing what and who looks prettiest; I hear of 5 year olds holding in their tummies so that they can "look like Barbie"...so whether the dolls are a cause in and of themselves, or a reinforcement, I just feel as if it's one more thing I have to counter.

We have Barbies...but they all wear 1960's crocheted dresses that I bought off eBay. And some frocks made of paper bags. Also, I've melted stretch marks onto them.

Also, I am forced to gain weight and walk around in hip waders so that my daughters have a realistic view of "real women"...because, 39-19-39? Damn. That's a lot of alien perfection to counterbalance.

jo

mulan also wears a kimono at the end, even though shes clearly chinese!!

stella

we don't even have children yet...but you sound like my husband!
ha.

-s

Shawn

A John Deere Cinderella tractor would be awesome, and I can't believe you'd denigrate it. Think of the cleanup and remodeling that peanut could do around your apartment!

Velma

It's hard not to get sucked into the Disney vortex, isn't it?

Emily

Girls can not live without princesses! And boys can not live without monster trucks and Star Wars!! You rock Metro Dad!

Papa Bradstein

When I was last at Disneyland--over 10 years ago now--outside the Pocahontas show, they were selling "Colors of the Wind Nachos."

Yeesh. There's a visual for you.

I only buy my daughter dolls of color. Does that make me racist? No, she sees plenty of Caucasians in positions of power, no need for them to be among her playthings.

Mae

New to your blog! Loving it too btw and will visit frequently.

Raising a girl (5) and a boy (3), I believe I've been in your shoes a little, especially about the Disney Princess thing. For all the same reasons you did, I tried to hold back for as long as possible and also agonized about the first purchase of the Princess doll. When the flood gates finally did open (around age 3-4), it really wasn't as creepy and bad as I thought Jon Benet Ramsey was. (It evolves into dressing up in Princess costumes for some.) But we've got a few years ahead of you on this now, and can tell you from the future that this stuff does get outgrown pretty quickly. After all, it's pretty limited as far as imagination goes. And if I am reading between the lines correctly, your Peanut is probably a bright kid with level-headed parents. Her own imagination won't be able to tolerate this stuff for very long.

col

Compromise with a Princess Fiona doll?

Jonathan

MD: Great post. You should read a similar NY Times Magazine piece from a few years ago:

What's Wrong with Cinderella?

It goes into the entire history of the Princess brand, and what a marketing phenomenon it really has become.

sarah

I have never had any desire to buy my daughters Barbies or their Disney clones. However, my husband's grandmother had four sons, and my girls are her first female descendants- ditto his mother. There are decades of frustrated urges to buy pink plastic crap being unleashed on my girls! Ugghh!

Sueblimely

I am pleased you bought the doll - you may have lived to regret it years from now. I did not buy my daughter a Cabbage Patch Doll when she wanted one at age 3. She recently bought one for herself saying that she had always felt deprived - She had remembered for 24 years :-)

Menchie

Hi MD! Found your blog through Karen Cheng. Have just spent the last hour reading through your posts and really enjoyed it.

This is a great post. I never liked playing with dolls when I was a child so I don't think I influenced my daughter in any way (most of her dolls are gifts).

But, she does wear a lot of pink.

bulhaa

kids have this amazingly small capacity for interest. my lil sister does the exact same thing. completely engrossed with a toy one day and its limbs are missing the next!

ps. love ur blog. :D

the mad momma

I loved your post as always.... here's my two pence.

I played with barbies since I was 8 - a cousin from UK left them behind for me. and its okay. i'm not warped - atleast no one says it to my face!

Disney marketing is pretty bad in india though i dont know how far behind you we are. and yes, its weird to see little indian girls playing with caucasian princesses. that said, i dont read too much into it. our children are not growing to grow up imagining that white people rule the world. 20 years from now, it might be a very different world. and we are our children's role models - you, a korean father, i am an indian mother. we dont need to worry about white, busty barbie princesses!

yes, we do overthink some things, but i think that is a good thing.a good old think and you know whether an issue is worth wasting sleep over or not.

and finally - down with the politically correct. So Apu on the simpsons might be a bit of a caricature adn might be as hard for me to relate to as he is to a non-Indian. but i hope.. and here i really have my fingers crossed, that the educated people out there, anyone with a bit of sense.. knows that its simply a caricature. its not worth losing all our literature over such issues.

my kids are going to read enid blyton, grimms, and hans anderson and anything else there is to read. i hate to think we're going to lose it all because its regressive or racist. it reflects a time and age and our kids are not stupid enough to not realise that it is no longer that time and age...

phew. long comment!

dlyn

what is it with girls and pink? I hate pink, but had to tolerate it as both girls went through pink phases. Like being in a Pepto Bismol bottle. I hated the Disney princesses like poison, but both daughters loved them and went on to become well balanced adults. I guess it must be do-able.

aminah

my nine year old son and I just read this together-and yes I hopped over the F words- and we both really enjoyed this article of yours and it gave the nine year old food for thought! Brilliant. Good article! will be back to read more!

Christen

You know what? You sorta sound like a feminist to me... congratulations!

But seriously, this is a powerful piece of writing. Thank you.

Feminism has its merits. You'll find we're actually pretty open-minded folk, awfully glad you're raising children.

sweatpantsmom

Not to mention Donny Osmond as Shang in Mulan.

What - they couldn't find a Chinese dude who sings?

Mom101

I freaking LOVE this post, MD. I've always said there will be no Little Mermaid in our house, because I don't want my girls thinking that the only way to get a man is to shut the fuck up.

Glad to hear I'm not alone.

Jessica H.

My husband and I found you through Karen Cheng and have spent the past two hours laughing our way through your archives. We love your fantastic attitude about life and parenting. Cheers!

Kara

As mother of an eight year old, I can tell you that Princesslust is fleeting. Overnight, she went from wanting to watch Disney movies and dress up to wanting to be on a sports team and watch Mythbusters (okay, there's some Hannah Montana and Spongebob thrown in for good measure). Cynical adults see a toy as another reason to get all uptight and wring their hands.
Kids see toys and want to play. Good on you guys for just letting her be a kid.

Mary Towning

This was awesome. I didn't think guys even thought about this, but I'm a 20 year old mom, worried about my 6 month olds impending boy-dom. Have you seen those tonka commercials? "Boys are just built DIFFERNT, tonka has the blueprint" it's so obnoxious. You've got the harder job though, I feared having a girl because I can remember what it was like...being scared to raise my hand in class incase the boys would make fun of me. You don't have to be a feminist to want to protect your daughter. Much Love (& Luck)
xx

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