When asked what a princess is, my 4-year-old daughter answered, "A princess likes to dance."
Sure, cartoon princesses are skilled in the social graces, but I'm concerned that, without my guidance, my daughter may notice only their external elegance and beauty.
In recent years, princesses have become big business — much more than the normal merchandising tie-ins that accompany kids' movies. Books, bicycles, costumes — it's difficult to find products not offered in pretty princess pink. But is the onslaught of princess products healthy for young girls? How does the excessive focus on outward appearances impact their view of beauty and personal self-esteem?
At our house, guidance is the key to addressing these concerns. Interestingly, a look at the movies themselves reveals that not all cartoon princesses are focused on their own beauty. Snow White teams up with her woodland friends in a home-improvement campaign, Cinderella exhibits joy in difficult circumstances, and Belle sacrifices her freedom for her father. Ironically, it's often the nemesis of the story — the Evil Queen, the Wicked Stepmother, or the buffoonish Gaston — who makes a big deal out of physical beauty or social position.
So the next time my 4-year-old and I sit down for a princess tale, I'll acknowledge her admiration for the elegance and beauty of fairy tale characters. But I'll also remind her that what God would value above Snow White's, Cinderella's and Belle's physical appearance is their kindness, their joyfulness and their sacrificial love.
~ Read more articles about media influences & your family. ~
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2010 by Ashleigh Slater. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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