When it comes to princesses, though, the gloves come off.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a growing number of written critiques of Disney princesses. (For the uninitiated, the "Disney Princess" is Disney’s brilliant marketing idea to combine all of their fairy tale leading ladies, from old school Cinderella, Belle, and Snow White to the more modern Jasmine and Tiana, into one pastel-colored collective.)
Skeptics see the ladies as limiting girls’ play, focusing attention on appearance, and training girls to be little consumers rather than little people with their own creativity. Last year journalist Peggy Orenstein pushed the debate mainstream with her book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” connecting the Disney Princess pretty-in-pink phenomena to early sexualization of girls. (We wrote about the same in our piece, “Little Girls or Little Women? The Disney Princess effect.”)
A lot of these princess detractor moms wonder how on earth other mothers don’t see the problem with steering their girls into this cotton candy world of waiting for the prince. As the blog Cinematica put it: “Snow White’s hormones almost kill her, Aurora is married off in the crib for politics and saved years later with a kiss (or sex and slavery when Anne Rice has her say), Jasmine is a pretty girl saved by a street rat, Ariel gets to look pretty and say nothing, Belle works her sexuality, and Cinderella is saved because of her beauty.”
But on the other side, along with the princess detractors have come princess defenders. A slew of the Disney faithful have taken to the blogosphere, pointing out that princesses are sweet, nice, like to read (Belle), work without complaining (Cinderella) and actually pretty spunky if you look closely. (Doesn’t Pocahantas stop a murder?)