Did They Live Happily Ever After?

The opinions expressed below about The Princess Problem are my own. I was not given anything or asked by anyone to read or review this book. I happened upon this book when I read an article here

So I finished the The Princess Problem and returned it to the library. I mentioned it in my post here. That was actually quick for me. I guess it is the time limit with the library and all that puts a fire under me. That and I was very interested in the subject matter. I’m currently in the middle of two other books and my magazines are stacked up pretty high now.

You might be wondering why I’m writing about this and how it ties in with my other posts. Well having kids has been a dream of mine for a while and like most parents I don’t want to screw them up. Then there is the kind of races my husband and I like to do. Going to Disney races and the parks exposes us all to all kinds of consumerism and fandoms. We want to be smart about it.

I saw the title of the book in the article and thought that it was such a wonderful coincidence that one of my recent posts was about princesses. I decided to read The Princess Problem, and I would say overall it was a good book. It gave me a lot of things to think about when my kids watch TV or movies. It had some good points for both girls and boys. I think I mentioned before that I think I was blessed with boy/girl twins. I think that it really helps with balance. That is not to say there are not issues. I actually thought that we were all good here with the princess thing until my daughter told me one day all she wanted to be when she grew up was a princess. However when my son listed off the different things he wanted to be when he grew up, my daughter chimed in on how much she wanted to help with his endeavors. He wants to have a farm with a playground that has a building where you can get your teeth fixed and shop for books while you wait. When you are done you can eat the food grown at the farm at the restaurant and listen to live music. Sounds good to me!

I like some of the children books and shows Dr. Hains recommends in her book. I looked up several of the books at our local library. We are currently reading Not All Princesses Dress in Pink and Shades of People. I have a lot of others on my “For Later” shelf with my library. We like both of these books. We check out anywhere from eight to fifteen books at a time. My kids LOVE books especially my son. I try to touch up on some issues I want to expose them to and then they always play in the kids area at the library for a bit. They always find some books they want on their own. When they find a good one I just can’t refuse them.

You may be wondering about the Shades of People book and how it ties in with the princess problem. Dr. Hains doesn’t just hit gender roles but she also talks about racism in the princess world. My kids go to a preschool at our church and it is quite diverse I am happy to say. The kids haven’t had any issues so far. I think that preschool has been great for them.

When I first started to read The Princess Problem I was worried it was going to tell me that I need to dress my daughter in all grey and promote only neutral toys and activities. I wasn’t for that. I want my daughter to be herself if that means she likes pink (which she does) or if she likes black, green or any other color that exits, then so be it. So I liked this quote from the book. I posted it once before and I want to post it again.

The goal is not to persuade girls that princesses are bad or to “de-princess” them. Rather, it is to help girls reason through the problems with princesses and see that there are many other ways to be a girl – to help unfetter their imaginations and help them dream a multiplicity of dreams.

I liked that. I grew up like that. I had Barbies but I didn’t want to look like her. I just thought the doll was fun. I would put a few in a bag and throw them over my shoulder so I could have my hands free to climb trees. Once safely perched on a branch some of my Barbies would climb tall “buildings” to sneak in and steal jewels while the other Barbies would investigate the crime. They would eventually crack the case and catch the cat burglars (I think my imagination was inspired by watching a lot of Remington Steele with my parents. I love me some Pierce Brosnan).

I also liked Dr. Hains’ suggestion about being a good “pop culture coach.” When I think about it my Mom did this. She would always make comments to us kids about the different shows we watched together. She did a lot of co-viewing with us.

Recap: Pop Culture Coaching In Four Steps

  1. Identify your family’s values.
  2. Establish a healthy media diet for your children.
  3. Watch and talk about media content with your children.
  4. Teach your children about media creation.

Now with twins or higher order multiples (triplets or higher) we worry about socializing our kids just like anybody else. We sometimes forget though that our kids need other friends. They were kind of born with a built-in best friend, but just like singleton children, all siblings need friends outside the family. It is nice I have a boy and a girl so it doesn’t seem unusual to them to play with someone of the opposite sex. However with us, it is a nice change of pace to actually play with someone of the same-sex. I was happy to see this line in the book. It made me really happy that my kids can play so well together and enjoy some of the same things.

Having friendships with the opposite sex in childhood makes us better romantic partners later on – better able to understand and relate to one another.

Again, I thought of my Mom. She is a bit of a geek. She loves Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, etc. I grew up loving Star Wars and Star Trek. I never even knew there was any kind of rivalry because we loved both in our house. My Mom also loved fantasy and sci-fi books. She read all the Dune books. She loves Robert A. Heinlein and Terry Brooks. I think sometimes geeks have an easier time with relating to each other due to the love of the fandom. My husband and I went to see Suicide Squad on my birthday at my request. Let me tell you, he had no problem with that.

My son’s favorite color is dark purple. He likes coloring his toe nails his favorite color and why not? It is fun. My daughter likes to sword fight with my son and she likes playing with my son’s Hulk and Spider-man dolls. She has some super hero girl dolls but she still likes playing with the boy dolls as well. By boy dolls I don’t mean dolls that are meant for boys. I mean dolls that are male. I’m happy to say that they share a lot of each others toys. We did recently give them their own rooms. When I separated the toys I did not think of gender so much. I thought more about what each child likes. I actually left some girl dolls in my sons room that I knew he liked. My daughter likes Legos better so she got them. I also told them to be sure to still share.

Since I do have twins I would like to touch on the “alpha twin.” There seems to always be one no matter what sex the set is. If you ask any member of my multiples group with boy/girl twins I’m sure every single one will tell you that the girl is the alpha twin. I’m not saying that is true for everybody but just me and the club members I’ve talked to so far. These girls always seem to know how to be strong get attention in their own unique way. That isn’t to say the boys are not strong. They are. I guess the best way to describe it is that each child can “hold their own.”

I did not one hundred percent agree on the interpretation of some of the Disney stories in The Princess Problem. One of my favorite classes in college was creative writing. We would write a story and turn it into the teacher with a disc for him to print off several  copies for everyone in the class to read. During class we would dissect the story and talk about what it meant to us. I wrote a sci-fi/horror story one time. I wanted to discuss moral issues and just the sheer horror and grossness of the science experiment in the story. Some of my classmates saw more political undertones that I had never even considered. At the end of class the author had the option to reveal themselves to the class or stay anonymous. I always liked to reveal myself to discuss some more of the topics that I did not intend to put in my story. It was very interesting and eye-opening when it comes to writing something and putting it out for the world to interpret.

Now with that said, I have to say if you go looking for a problem you are almost always going to find one. Beauty and Beast for instance is not one of the stories I saw that had a big problem. I always thought that the witch or fairy changed the prince into a beast because even though he was a handsome prince, he was ugly on the inside. She wanted to teach him a lesson by making his outside match his inside. If he changed enough on the inside to get someone to love him, the curse would be broken. Belle comes along and even though the Beast was socially awkward due to his appearance, he had changed for the better with the help of his staff who was also cursed. Now to paraphrase what was in The Princess Problem, because I forgot to get a screen shot before I turned the book back into the library, the Beast was verbally and emotionally abusive until Belle came along to help change him for the better. Basically the theory is that the story is sending a message that a good girl can change a bad boy. So girls will stick with an abusive boyfriend in hopes that he will change. Honestly I never saw that in the story. I guess I can see how one could interpret it that way. I suppose that is why we have to be careful. I can co-view with my children and give them my interpretation of it or say nothing and hope they see the same thing.

I enjoyed reading the book and I liked all the resources Dr. Hains listed. If you want to learn more I’m sure you can purchase the The Princess Problem from Amazon or get it from your local library. Dr. Rebecca Hains also has a website.

Edit: My daughter now wants to be a Mom who paints.

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Here Come The Boys

So if you have been following along with my blog you will remember our big trip in January 2016 to Florida. We did a lot of character meals, but we never saw a single prince at the restaurants. It looks like things are changing with this character meal at Trattoria al Forno.

I so hope we can do this character meal the next time we save up enough to go back to Florida. My son enjoyed Cinderella’s castle, but he did not get a picture with Cinderella because he wanted the prince there as well. Having said that, we saw Kristoff and a few other fellows in the park but they are not as present as the princesses and animal characters. This will be a nice change.

Now I spoke about a book I started reading, The Princess Problem. I’m still not done. Like I said, I have issues with time. I am enjoying it so far. The first part wasn’t just for parents with little girls. It give you ideas on how to be a media savvy parent for any child. I’ll let you know more about it later. It is funny how I see this subject pop up a lot in every day life now. The new character meal, for instance, excited me because it wasn’t all about the princesses. I hope this is a new trend that lasts at Disney.

 

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Don’t Say The P Word

I debated on whether to post this or not. I’m sure there will be a ton of people who disagree with me. I know you can’t please everybody, but really, since when did the word princess become so awful? When did princess become such a derogatory  word?

A friend of mine shared an article from another mommy blog a long time ago. I read it and thought, “Man, this chic has issues.” I don’t think feminism has to be so black and white. Just like there are some bad feminazis there are also some stereotypical princesses. People. . . we are a bit more complex than that. I mean whatever happen to don’t let “one bad apple spoil the whole bunch” or “never judge a book by its cover”?

As you can guess from my other posts and few pictures I have of my daughter, I have no big problem with Disney or Disney princesses. With that said, this mommy bog I mentioned not only blasted the fictional kind but the real ones as well. She basically said that real princesses are only baby making machines. Well I don’t know about you but I kind of liked Princess Diane. I think she did a lot of good work. Did she give birth to the next King of England? Yes. She did, but she also did a lot of good along the way. I’m gonna also say that I like Princess Kate as well. I like Queen Elizabeth I. You know the one who was in power during the Renaissance Period? Yes, yes I know she is mostly referred to as queen, but before she was a queen guess what she was? Yup. She was a princess. Those are just a few of my favorites. I don’t look down on them and call them baby making machines especially since Queen Elizabeth I never had children.

Most of the article seems to point the finger at fictional princesses and what that particular mom felt was going on with people and their children. She seemed to hate to hear parents call their daughters princess. She seemed to associate it with bratty little children who grew up to be entitled twits. My daughter likes Cinderella, Elsa, Moana and Leia. So I’m going to address those as well as a few others.

Now Cinderella is old school. I kind of lump her in with Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. These movies are all supposed to take place a long, long time ago when arranged marriages were quite common especially with royalty. Now Cinderella and Snow White didn’t really have arranged marriages, but they did seem to fall in love and marry pretty quick. Sleeping Beauty on the other hand did have an arranged marriage. I’ve watched all these movies with my kids and we talk about them. I don’t just let them watch them and figure it out for themselves. I try to explain what aspects might be true and what is completely fictional like for instance dragons. I tell my children that arranged marriages are mostly things of the past and that we do not do that. Are these my favorite princesses? No. They are a little more stereotypical. Do I shield my children from them? No. I show them all angles.

Now you’ve got the more recent Elsa and Moana. I found it quite funny that Elsa refused to let her sister marry a man right after meeting him. This quick engagement is mentioned a few more times in the movie when Ana and Kristoff talk about Hans. Disney seems to be, in my opinion, making fun of itself and the old school movies. Moana doesn’t even have any man problems except trying to convince a demigod to help her fulfill her destiny to save her people. I mean she seems like a pretty strong female character to me. While we are talking about strong female characters let me move on to Leia.

This is something else that sticks with me. When Carrie Fisher passed I saw so many things on my Facebook news feed. I always loved the Star Wars movies. Princess Leia was a feisty lady who could kick butt and take names. This was awesome especially for the time period when the movie was filmed and released. I wasn’t quit old enough to see the movie when it came out but I saw it years later. I loved it and I loved her character. My favorite TV shows at that time were Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman. I felt like they were strong women as well. Did Princess Leia wear some skimpy bikini in one of the movies? Yes. She did. Does that make her any less of a strong character? No. I don’t believe so. Did Wonder Woman also  wear some interesting costumes? Yes, but please just take a look at all the costumes male or female. These are not exactly the most comfortable looking clothing for most of them. I mean can you really name one hero costume that is not revealing in tightness or skin and looks comfortable? I mean ask any dude if he would like to wear a superman costume? I’m sure every piece of flab he has will show unless he wears the fake chest that sometimes comes with it. I’m sure some people will go on to mention that these super heroes are not great for a little boy’s self-image as well. Yes, they all do seem to have perfect bodies, but they are super heroes. They are either usually alien, been involved in a horrible science experiment, or have enough money to dedicate an entire wing of their house to working out on a regular basis. In one word it is all fiction.

My problem with my news feed when Carrie Fisher passed was how some people thought that just because we referred to her as one of our most cherished characters, we didn’t see the other good that Carrie did. I had one friend talk about her other works like Postcards From The Edge and all the good Carrie did for those with mental illness. Do we really diminish that just because we find joy in her Leia character? I don’t think so, but I guess some people did. I also had a friend share another person’s post that talked about how they would not refer to her as Princess Leia but General Organa. I was fine with how they wanted to cherish the character and what she represented. I just didn’t like how so many were up in arms that some of us still referred to her as Princess Leia. You know for me that was the first time I ever saw Carrie Fisher. That was the first time I fell in love with the character. I just don’t understand this hatred toward the word princess.

I understand there are people on either side of the spectrum. Do you know what a princess, a politician and a principal all have in common besides alliteration? They represent people who are from all different walks of life. Some are good people, and some are crooked. Some are selfish and some are giving.

My daughter asked one time if she was my super hero princess. I said she was if she wanted to be. I tried to imagine what a super hero princess would look like and then it hit me. Duh. Wonder Woman was the princess of the Amazons. She was a super hero. I don’t really think my daughter necessarily had her specifically in mind, but if she did I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

I guess I’m also lucky that I had boy/girl twins. I don’t freak out and pull my son away from my daughter when he grabs a Rapunzel doll and starts playing with her. I also don’t frown when my daughter grabs a plastic sword and plays with my son (as long as they are being careful and don’t hurt anybody or break anything). I recently saw this article and totally agree that if a boy wants to play with a doll he can, but I also believe a girl should be able to as well. Please let’s not go from one extreme to another. There is a happy medium.

That article also pointed me in the direction of a book titled The Princess Problem. I’ve just started reading it. I like what is said in the introduction.

The goal is not to persuade girls that princesses are bad or to “de-princess” them. Rather, it is to help girls reason through the problems with princesses and see that there are many other ways to be a girl – to help unfetter their imaginations and help them dream a multiplicity of dreams.

I like it so far. Maybe I’ll come back and tell you more about it later when I finish it. That may be a looooong time from now though. I mean finding time to write blog posts can be very difficult. Most of the time the only books I get to read are The Gruffalo or Moose Tracks.

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