The Brave Kick-Ass Disney PrincessMay 31, 2012 No Comments
All little girls want to be princesses… right?!
It’s bad enough that toy aisles are separated out by what a shop considers gender appropriate for each sex of child. And on more than one occasion I have been forced to buy a so-called “boy’s toy” for a girl (including my daughter) as a present because the “girl’s toy” aisle is just lame beyond belief!
But lame “girl’s toys” just got lamer!
You may have heard the media hype lately about the new Disney film coming out next month called Brave – the tale of a kick-ass Scottish princess called Merida. For once, not a saccharine, pink-clad, boring princess but an actual action hero, a warrior princess. Yeah! What’s not to like?
It seems that Disney have been getting into the mood for this more enlightened type of princess by producing merchandise that reflects Merida’s more kick-ass status. Mattel, on the other hand, can’t seem to help trying to make Merida just that bit more Barbie-esque.
“So what?” I hear you say! “It’s all cynical marketing anyway, and Mattel are just trying to sell more merchandise by making Merida more recognizably ‘Princess-like’.”
Well… as the mother of a little girl let me tell you – it matters.
Little girls gravitate towards girls they see on-screen. Yes, they think boys are cool too. But even at less than two years of age, and with only exposure to CBeebies – the BBC preschool channel here in the UK – my little girl already picks out the female characters in the programmes she watches as being more interesting to her than the male ones.
Little girls will gravitate towards the character of Merida and want a dolly of her to carry around with them. Soon, their memory of the film will lessen and they’ll be left with the memory that their dolly reinforces. If the dolly looks rough and ready for adventure that is what they will idolize. If the dolly looks like a typical boring princess then that’s what they’ll idolize instead.
And I suppose the real question is, why? Why do Mattel feel the need to sex-up merchandise for little kids? Barbie is one thing – it’s a toy that has been around for years and I expect Mattel would defend it by calling it an “institution” or a “vintage quirk.” But this is a new character, a new toy and a potential fresh start.
I’m not saying all toys for girls should look like Cthulhu Barbie or anything. But if you make boring, vacuous, pretty toys the standard then little girls will idolize looking boring, vacuous and pretty and in turn be impressed by boring, vacuous “pretty” people. Not a great ambition for the future female half of the world’s population is it?
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