I have always been a fan of Disney movies. Even through high school and college (and after), I would enjoy going to the theater to see the new animated movies as they came out. Before we even started thinking about a family, I had a collection of some of my favorite Disney movies like "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin." I enjoyed watching them without kids, so I knew that one day I would love watching my kids enjoy them.
However now that we are slowly letting Staley watch more and more of these princess movies, my perspective has changed a bit. I knew that each of the movies have scary moments, tense situations, and bad guys that still give me pause. But there are more subtle things that I had forgotten about. I've heard words like "idiot" and "stupid", conversations about killing and death, even Ursula referring to Ariel as a "little tramp." Very few of the princesses have two living parents. Rapunzel was kidnapped. Aurora was raised away from her family. Snow White and Cinderella have evil step-families. Aladdin and Flynn Rider were thieves. So many things that are difficult to explain to a 3 year old..
But one of the things that I've struggled with the most since sharing some of these movies with Staley is the overall theme of most of these Disney movies. As Staley summed it up, "I need to put on my dress so we can kiss and fall in love." When watching "The Little Mermaid" with Staley, I picked up on some disturbing themes from this teenage mermaid including: if you don't like their rules, it's okay to disobey your parents; love at first sight will lead to happily ever after; completely changing yourself for a man may be necessary to find true love; 3 days to fall in love (without ever talking) should be more than enough; and kissing = love. And many of the other movies share similar themes like passively waiting to be rescued by a man, falling in love with perfect strangers, or the importance of a kiss. And don't get me started on "Sleeping Beauty". Why on earth, when your daughter is cursed to prick her finger when she's 16 do you send her away for the first 16 years of life and then bring her home on her 16th birthday? What is wrong with these people???
I want my daughters to grow up as strong, independent women. I want them to know that they do not need a man to complete them. I want them to understand that love takes time, and that kissing does not equal love. I know there is plenty of time to teach them these lessons...but these Disney story-lines aren't helping.