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January 22, 2008


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Speaking as a father whose daughters have been inundated with Disney crap since their birth (by no actions from me), and who just returned from a SECOND Disney World trip in an 18-month span, I hear ya. Personally, I never fell under the Disney trap growing up. My Mom and Dad and brother went once as a family, and all four of us hated it. Soon after I made the realization that they were, and still are, the Evil Empire.

Yet... when I see how happy my daughters are when playing with their Princess dolls, it almost makes it worth it. After all, as you said; 'it's just a fucking toy.' There could be worse things to be playing with... Barbies, Bratz, etc.


This was awesome, MD. Although I agree with you to a point that a toy is just a toy, I'm personally offended by Disney's racist stereotyping of ethnic characters. So while I allow an occasional toy to sneak into our house, I don't let my Asian-American daughters watch the films.


I understand and agree with all the points but as you say, "It's just a fucking toy." If it makes you feel any better, I played with Barbies growing up and never felt like I needed to look like them; watched Cinderella and read Snow White and never felt like I wanted to wait around to be 'rescued.' I was raised under the influence of the Asian empire; i.e. become a doctor or at the very least, marry one. (fwiw, I failed to do either.) Parenting is the operative word. And hey, as you've mentioned before -- just gotta keep her off the pole.

Btw, I swore up and down that I would never dress the Bean in pink... and now the girl will fake seizures if she doesn't have on at least one pink thing everyday. But like you said, if it makes her happy...


Oh, I went through exactly those arguments in my head when my kid wanted, not just a princess doll, but a PRINCESS BARBIE DOLL. Ugh. I was steadfast in my refusal to get it until she went to see Santa and that was the only thing she asked for. She's enjoying her doll a lot now. And I am a wuss.


I pretty much agree with you, except that the fairy tale stories -- Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc. -- can be seen as representing deeper spiritual truths about human development that speak to children. However that deeper meaning has been stripped away by Disney in order to make these stories more "palatable" or "marketable" or whatever. And they don't inspire mass consumption or a negative body image!

That said, there are racist stories in Grimm's, too (check out The Jew Among Thorns). I probably wont' read that one to my kids any time soon.

At the end of the day, a toy is just a toy. If you're not filling the house with Disney plastic crap, one doll's not going to warp Peanut. She'll use her imagination and play with the box instead.


It's so interesting (and refreshing) to hear this from a male point of view. I didn't even know fathers thought about these kinds of things!

Ed (zoesdad)

When I think of all the Disney Dolls I've invested in and look back on my daughter's favorite toy.....

A rock she found in the garden and painted a face on it with a crayon. I can't get rid of it!

Oh, and we painted her nursery in yellow and used all primary colors for the crib set, etc. Her favorite color...PINK.

Try as we may, so much of this parenting gig is not how we wish to raise our kids but rather, how our kids are raising us.


I'm glad you got her the doll. Raised by parents who were always boycotting something-or-the-other (Disney of course, products made in China, pesticides, etc.), I have the first-hand view that the kids don't tend to understand all the reasons to be indignant -- they just want to play. Glad Peanut's having fun!


because of many of the issues you mentioned, i didn't buy the cinderella doll. however, my brother thought it was a GREAT idea and bought it for her anyway... then, i unclenched and buried the disney ax.

but when i realized that the paloma was consistently making the brunettes - "the EVIL ones" and the blondes - "the GOOD ones", i got back on the horse and edited the barbie pile. i also had to find my barbie self (shivers) and actually play with them. after, i showed her that the clothes actually came off all the dolls, the brunettes and blondes became multifaceted - interchangeably good and evil.

now, the paloma is REALLY into her (fake) american girl doll and life in the valley of the plastic dolls is much much better. (granted, i can sew.)


I disagree. I bet that tramp is totally fucking Barney right now.


I am completely with you. I hate the whole Disney Princess thing. It bothers me to see every girl wanting not to be just a princess, but a Disney Princess. We are paying good money to advertise for companies.

We have a rule that there are no character toys allowed in our house. Yeah, we broke it a time or two, but we don't need a toothbrush with Dora on it. The whole branding thing has gotten out of control.


I'm a tomboy mama to my core and I feel like I’ve been pretty chill about my girl being the frilliest pinkest girl ever, though she does have a nice tough defiant side. Every once in a while something will come up to give me pause though. I held off on any Barbies for as long as I could and then when I gave in it really didn't hurt (me) too badly. Now though I can't wrap my head around the American Girl Doll phenomena for reasons I can't articulate as well as you did your Disney apprehensions. Basically they’re creepy and expensive and I'm sure that means her grandparents will be buying one for her come next birthday. Strangely I never struggled with what to get my son at this age (5). From a pretty early age he was a Lego freak - meaning he was freakishly good at them and loved them. Have bought them for the girl but she couldn't care less. I guess these things are marketed by gender for a reason but I'm sure someone has written a dissertation on why I'm wrong. At the end of the day what are you going to do? You can overthink things and it seems to be a luxury of our generation – a high class problem as you stated. I just try to remind myself when I'm doing that that if I'm going to exert that much mental energy I should put it into trying to save the world or something. And then I go back to surfing the internet for porn. Ok not really. But I’m sure it’s equally inane.


A to the MEN. Living in proximity to Mouschwitz world domination headquarters, we get the full onslaught here in So Cal, complete with freeway billboards for your commuting pleasure.

I grew up here, and some of my favorite childhood memories were riding on my Pop's (Granddad) shoulders in Tomorrowland. In a lot of ways, it is the happiest place on earth, but you can't ever forget the black hearted fucker behind the scenes controlling the weather.

Mama Nabi

Y'know, someday, it'd be fun to sit down over a bottle of good scottch and yak with you about stuff like this. I give myself mental flogging every time I succumb to the lure of Evil Disney... or more like lure of that huge shit-eating grin that appears on my child's face whenever certain Disney things are in her possession. Evil and creepy powers that D has... (so where do I sign up for stock options?)

Ten Feet of Steel

I think "politically correct" should just be trashed as a term. For most of the country, it's just a form of code now, like "states' rights". The vast majority of people who complain about political correctness are just complaining about having to be considerate and respectful to groups of people they don't think deserve their respect or consideration. The rest of us who complain about political correctness aren't really complaining about any of the actual principles that led to the phenomenon of PC--we're complaining about dogmatic assholes who like to argue technicalities. If we got rid of the term entirely, then we would just call assholes assholes, and bigots would actually have to say bigoted things instead of going about the whole wink-and-nudge routine that is bitching about political correctness.

As for toys, I agree with you. They're just toys, and unless there's a parenting void, toys are not going to hijack your child's mind. Hell, I loved Barbie as a kid. And you can see how well I was brainwashed by the Disney-Mattel axis of evil.

In other words, nobody's going to destroy his child's vibrant, multi-faceted personality by buying her a princess doll as long as he's also teaching her the finer points of how to fart on the dog.


I think you should pray for a John Deere Princess riding lawn mower. At least then you won't have to fight about who is going to do the lawn work. I love Disney, I did as a child and have supported my granddaughters interest in the Princesses. Real life comes soon enough and she will learn there is no Prince Charming and that you have to work hard for the good things in life. Why not enjoy the fantasy for now? Catching my plane for Disney World, talk to you soon.

21st Century Dad

My daughter isn't quite 6 months old yet, so dressing her in pink is only done to avoid awkward social situations. At this age, the downstairs plumbing and baby couture offer the only clues.

Yes, I agree that Disney is the world's biggest people trap, operated by a mouse. But can you fault them for building a better mouse, er, I mean, people trap?

Maybe I'll understand when my little one is 3 and subject to these influences.

It's also fun to see how these comments flare up when people conveniently ignore the "sarcasm disclaimer."


I think the problem is that you've seen way to many Disney flicks. Kidding, kidding. I can see why people make a big deal out of it, I really can, but you're over thinking it. It's just a phase and not one of the worst (or more expensive) ones. I adored Disney Princesses as a kid. Sang the songs, knew all the words to the movies and imagined myself a Princess. Then I hit about 5th grade and it all kind of just went away. Soccer, street hockey, music and boys took over my life at that point. I swear to you, at 27 years old, I haven't sang the songs in years.

Peanut probably learned about them from school. Just like my niece learned about Boobz...I mena Bratz dolls. The bigger a deal my sis made about it, the more her kids want them. So she gave it up and her girls have moved on. Now it's My Little Ponies. Stupid ass things come in packaging so insane that some of them were "donated" to the trash can, just so we wouldn't have to open them.

PS. My mom always did the one Santa gift. Everything else was opened on Christmas Eve with family. And the best gift was NEVER from Santa. The fat man wasn't going to get my moms glory.

Angry Jewish Dad

Screw Walt Disney and his racist stereotypes. As many biographies have demonstrated, good ole Uncle Walt was not only a racist but also a hard-core Nazi sympathizer. His anti-semitism was legendary.

I know that he's long gone and Disney is now a global corporation. However, I won't have my children playing with anything related to Disney.

At the same time, I don't begrudge people for letting their kids go princess and Disney crazy. Like you said, whatever floats your boat.


Right on, MD. Right on!


Trust me when I say that the over-priced Disney cruise is worth every penny. That look of joy you saw on her face in that moment on Christmas morning - lasts all week. And you get to go do whatever the heck else you want while they spin their evil web of control over.

Seriously though, give a princess a break. Belle not only sacrifices her own life to save her father, she sees past Beast's beastiness to find the prince within. And Arial basically tells her father to go F himself and defies him to go live on the surface like she damn well wants to. They are not all comatose.

And the Indians were in Peter Pan long before Disney got their hands on it.


MD, I agree with you. Well, except for the dig on American Gladiators. Yes, I am an intelligent person who does not live in a house with wheels.


MD - This was great! A classic MD, good to have you back!


I totally agree with you on this post.

What about American Girl dolls? I LOVED the American Girl series growing up and I actually retained so much of what I read... the various social issues of the Victorian era, impact of WWII on daily American life, etc. The girls are smart, independent and the stories are educational historical fiction pieces. Since I started reading them years ago, they've ballooned into a huge life form of its own, but I think they're definitely a huge improvement from what the Disney folks have been up to all these years.


I love the perspective you bring to this whole Disney phenomenon, MD. I think most people don't realize how much more pervasive Disney is in the lives of kids today (as opposed to us older fogies.)

We allow a modicum of Disney-related movies and dolls into our household but we strive to keep it all within reason. What more can we do?

Momma Em

MD- sign me up for the Cinderella John Deere Tractor!

Now don't take this the wrong way coming from a little mid-western mom, but you kinda sound like you're suffering from stickittodamaneosis. Although I'm glad to hear that Peanut can cure you so easily. *wink*

I do kinda wonder what the statistics would show if someone did a survey on how many little girls who watched Disney 'Princess' movies and played with Barbies actually ended up with screwed up self-images.


Where does it all end? Seriously, I'm waiting for the day when I go to Home Depot and see that they're selling $6,000 John Deere Cinderella tractors.

Personally I'm waiting for the day that they introduce the Disney Princess My First Menstrual Cycle kit- complete with pink pads and tampons.


I completely agree with your take on Disney and am proud to say that I haven't bought her anything Disney branded... yet the house is full of it. If you can't stop the relatives and friends, it's best just to go with it.

I'm just glad that so far my Barney ban has been respected. Of course, that was accompanied by a statement that if anyone were to come near our house brandishing Barney anything, they would be asked to leave and to never return. Hopefully, my ban on Bratz will work just as well.

Oh well, in nine weeks, Thing 2 will arrive... followed shortly after by any blue article of clothing and toy truck that the g-parents can find. Let the deluge begin.


Only you could take a topic like this and make it so hilarious, MD! I snorted Diet Coke out my nose about three times just reading it. Thanks for the laughs. I needed it.


Ever watch "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs" from the'40s? Here is a wiki link: http://tinyurl.com/2q5hsm

Little Bird

Wow, this sorta forced a realization on me. I was not allowed to have Barbies as a toddler. Needless to say I wanted one more than breath itself. I think I saw every single Disney cartoon or film growing up. Now I'm thirty-three and I think I'm still waiting to be rescued. Hmmm... I think I have some things to work on. Give her the toys, along with admonishments not to take any of it seriously. I may have wanted to HAVE a Barbie, but I never wanted to look like her.
Thank you.


Great post.

My biggest issue with the Disney princess dolls is the slut factor. I can handle the unlikely body proportions - but can't they be covered by more than a bikini top?

I've bought several handcrafted dolls for my (three) kids, as well as the one Corolle doll that didn't have a creepy face.

But once my daughter started Grade 1, and saw what everyone else was playing with, those mass-marketed toys began to hold some appeal. And then my insistence on avoiding them seemed to me a little extreme. I did end up getting her a Webkinz (of course it ends with a 'z')for Christmas.

Everything in moderation.


I have friends that absolutely refuse to bring anything Disney into the house. Basically for all the reasons you listed. I've heard their reasons, but I like your last one best, it is just a toy.


Thanks for the reminder to take a deep breath. I spend more time considering what to do that is really healthy. Then again, my daughter has not asked for a princess anything yet, so we'll see.


I hate this princess crap. I hate it. I didn't give my daughter what she asked for Christmas -- which was an organza and sparkles gown like so and so had at school. I tried but I couldn't do it.

That said ... I have had a lot of moments in the last few weeks when I see that I have a much bigger part to play in the self image my daughter has than the Princesses. I have made it a bit of a campaign to actually comb my hair and get dressed just to be with here more often; instead of doing it only to leave her sphere.

mom to three

On Halloween, we sent our 3-year-old daughter to preschool in her ladybug costume. We got a class photo several days later from the Halloween party. Of the 11 girls in her class, eight of them dressed as princesses. So glad we missed the memo.


For more on Disney's take-over of the world, see http://www.carlhiaasen.com/books/team.html


My in-laws paid for the whole family to go on one of those Disney Cruises. What a weird trip. If you have kids, it's a decent vacation. However, be prepared to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of children onboard. It's insane. Sometimes the pool is filled with so many toddlers, you wonder whether there's even any water in there.

The weirdest part? There were a lot of grownups there without kids. A lot! Bunch of weirdos who never outgrew their childhoods, they'd put on the Mickey Mouse ears and run around sprinkling pixie dust. Freaks!

There was a bar but no casino.


"I'm no feminist but ..Disney princesses belittle the efforts that women have made in terms of achieving gender equality" That doesn't make any sense! You are a feminist. Don't give in to the evil right wing appropriate of the term. Feminism is wonderful!


I feel your pain. There is nowhere you can go now to escape the madness. I needed a rechargable battery for some useless electronics item the other day and walked into a Radio Shack. Lo and behold, I didn't realize that such an innocuous visit to a non-toy retailer would result in a 30 minute hysterical crying meltdown/fit with my daughter over the "Princess Clock Radio" I wouldn't buy her.

Some marketing asshole sitting in the 30th floor of a Burbank highrise is definitely a genious but he/she sure fucked the rest of us.

By the way, ever try to do business with Disney? Worst arrogant jerks in the world, and EVERYONE who works there is looking for a way out (Mattel is the same).

There is nothing quite like eating a Dole popsicle on a sunny July 4th in Fantasyland with your 4 year old waiting in line for the Tea Cup ride though, but that nostalgia only takes you so far (and now costs like $300).

Great post MD.


That Cinderella John Deere tractor may not be far behind, MD. I was just in a trucking supply store recently and came across a Disney CB radio! What the hell?

Mortimer's Mom

I feel much like you do. currently, however, I am fighting the battle against high School Musical.... my not-yet-5 y.o is coming home asking why WE don't have it at home like all her friends.... NOT HAPPENING!


You're right! The fairy godmother DOES look like Angela Lansbury. That's brilliant.


My son watches Handy Manny and Little Einsteins in the morning while being quizzed by Shanna and Dwayne (African American kids) on different job possibilities or taught safety rules by Lou and Lou Saftey Patrol (Asian American kids). It's not all bad or evil and racist, it's a large enough company with a massive amount of products. I totally agree with your points on the Disney Princesses (I love ranting on how I hate The Little Mermaid), but Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are pretty cool. So are movies like The Emporer's New Groove and The Goofy Movie, not to mention all the Pixar stuff and the Cinderella they let Whitney do.

It seems like a really popular thing to boycott Disney or rant about how evil the company is these days. Was that actually around when I was a kid watching Ducktales and Rescue Rangers? I think my parents were just happy there was something for my siblings and me to watch while they got dinner ready. As an adult I recognize all the stereotypes, but as a kid, I don't think I connected a jobless crab with a Jamaican accent with real life Jamaicans and laziness. I thought that fish and crabs were lazy and hey, it must be nice to be a fish or crab without homework. I mean, if you want to talk about stereotypes, Nickelodeon has a ton as well. *cough*Backyardigans*cough* (Although I love that show.)

Anyhoo, just wanted to put in my two cents. Totally agree on most of the Princesses (though Belle is cool). I don't buy dolls for my kids in general for the exact reasons you wrote. But we're ok with Disney in our house, they do have some good stuff. Besides, it's not like ALL the things our kids own are Disney related or we only take Disney Vacations. It's just part of the bigger whole of their childhood.


PS I'm shocked no one mentions this when discussing issues with Aladdin and racism: Aladdin was originally Chinese, how wrong was it that they changed his entire ethnicity? What's up with that?


This is the first time I've been to your site.
First off, I have a son (and will have a daughter in a few weeks) and have nieces.
We've had the princess debate in our family also.
The thing is, I was raised in a very strict Christian environment where different things were always off the table from Barbies to Carebears, you name it.
My parents were relatively lenient compared to some of my friend's parents. They let us have Barbies, and as we got older they explained the whole body image thing. We were fine.
But, my friends whose parents were super strict ended up being a bit warped. Like the kids who weren't allowed to watch tv would go to friends' houses and just sit mesmerized. It kind of worked against their parents.
As for my house - we love Disney. My 3 year old is currently obsessed with Peter Pan. I think it's okay.
But, what do I know? I also think American Gladiators is okay to watch with my son.


I love all these idiot comments from parents who sit down and watch "American Gladiator" with their three-year-old kids. No wonder America has such a violent youth culture. Why not just leave the matches out for them too?


I just remembered why I love you MetroDad!!!!
Just last Monday we bought our daughter (4) a princess blanket, and she's the happiest little girl in the American continent. I'm still cautious about all the Disney crap for all the good reasons you mentioned, but I realized not long ago that the more I oppose to this obsession our society has with stereotypes, the more I'm creating the same obsession in my daughter. Kind of a "self fulfilled prophecy".
I think for her is important to feel that she's special in a princess-kind-of-way, and that's what I'm trying to encourage. To feel that she's loved and cared for, but with BOUNDARIES!!!
Thanks for a great post.


This was such an awesome post, MD, and it really sums up a lot of how I feel about letting the avalanche of branded characters/toys/cereals into our house. To a certain extent, you do it to make your kids happy but as long as you're aware of what you're doing, I think everything will turn out just fine.


Ah...I can see the age gap between your Peanut and my Petunia because we went through some similar hand-wringing a little over a year ago after a visit to Disney World while staying with my sis in Orlando. It's amazing how the brand seeps into their subconscious, isn't it?

If it's any consolation, in October, Petunia had a superhero birthday party and is borderline obsessed with Superman, Spiderman, the Wonder Twins and the Incredibles.

And speaking of racist, be sure to listen to the words of the Roustabouts Song in Dumbo - YIKES!

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