Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is your little girl a princess? There are more than 26,000 Disney Princess items on the market. In 2,009, that line had sales of $4 billion. I guess that answer is a loud YES. I thought popular thought was moving forward without fine lines between the sexes. Do girls play with Barbies and have toy kitchens? Do boys play with trucks and guns? I hoped there was more of a middle ground especially with popular thought worrying about gay rights and the trend for any sex in any occupation.
There is the famous singer “Pink”. Does she wear pink? She’s kind of rough on the edges, not necessarily very feminine. Then there are the tiny pageant girls all done up in pink. These girls in the princess phase, at least in its current hyper-feminine and highly commercial form, is anything but natural. A toy fair, held at the Javits Center in New York, yielded merchandise for girls that seemed to only come in one color: pink jewelry boxes, pink vanity mirrors, pink telephones, pink hair dryers, pink fur stoles. I guess pink is necessary if you want to make money.
Developmental psychology research shows that until as late as age 7, children are convinced that external signs - clothing, hairstyles, favorite color, choice of toys-determine one’s sex. There is a new book out “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein that explores these gender issues. She says, “It makes sense, then, that to ensure you will stay the sex you were born you’d adhere rigidly to the rules as you see them and hope for the best. That’s why 4-year-olds, who are in what is called ‘the inflexible stage,’ become the self-appointed chiefs of the gender police.” The Disney rulers strike at the right time and market their princess stuff at the most influential stage of development when the child is at its whiniest and the parents are so glad the kid at least walks by herself and doesn’t need diapers or someone to shove the food in her mouth.
How many real princesses are out there anyway? I’m sure none of them strut around in crowns and pink evening gowns. Stop confusing these vulnerable children with unrealistic crap in their lives. Although, Prince William of England did just claim his princess who might someday become Queen. Ok. Buy your little girl all the pink princess crap she wants at the Disney store and be part of the $4 billion that company earns.

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