a whole new world . . .

Ah, hindsight is 20/20. If only someone had told 5-year-old me that there was no way in hell I would look like a Disney Princess. That would have saved an eating disorder. Or that I would not only be attracted to men. That would have saved some teenage confusion. Or that the only way to attain a badass library would be to marry into money. That would have saved hours of obsessing over having / not having a boyfriend, when I would have much preferred reading.

I know, I know. A lot of “would haves”–kind of a “woulda-coulda-shoulda” overload. But I’m genuinely serious. I watched Disney movies over and over. I asked for the Barbies for my birthday (we can discuss Barbies later. If you’re really interested read “The Anthropometry of Barbie” sometime). I even had a Beauty and the Beast nightgown that I tried to pull off as a dress at times.

I’m not sure what to do with Disney Princesses. A part of me still loves them. If “A Whole New World” comes up on my iTunes, I belt it out. Yet I can’t get over how angry I am at the messages they portray for young kids of any gender. Mulan kicks some Hun ass, but the story still ends with an insinuated wedding. Not to mention the racist implications of the Princess franchise. I was a nanny for a 4-year-old girl whose parents were from India. She owned a set of miniature Princesses, from Cinderella to Tiana, but she would only play with Jasmine or Tiana. She always gave me Sleeping Beauty. When I asked her if we could switch one time, dreading what I suspected the answer to be, she said no, because “Only these ones have brown skin like me.” Doesn’t get much more heartbreaking than that.

What are your thoughts and experiences with Disney Princesses? Were you very influenced by them, or did you steer clear?

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One thought on “a whole new world . . .

  1. I’m black. My mother never bought me a white doll, ever… and eventually, I didn’t want them. I never saw Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, or Cinderella (until the Brandy Norwood version hit theaters). I did see Little Mermaid though, even though I’m beginning to believe my mother allowed it because the mermaid wasn’t human to begin with. My mother was always worried about me hating myself. So many people of color do, both consciously and subconsciously, because of the effects of colonialism, rape and Willie Lynch-style slavery.

    What she did miss though, was how seeing these extremely small princesses affected by body image. That’s a whole other story. Imagine waking up to a Princess Jasmin bedroom set and looking nothing like her, still! I wanted to be skinny like she was.

    In retrospect, I’m thankful to my mother. So many black and brown women suffer from issues dealing with color because the media tells them that are too ___________. She raised me the best way she understood.

    While ideally, I would like to see that little Indian girl feel free enough to take the white doll, I can totally relate as to why she didn’t feel the need to begin with. She’s not hating the white doll. She is simply loving her own.

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