Disney did me dirty. I’ve definitively decided that my daughters will not be exposed to Disney princess stories during their formative years. Why? Because I am absolutely sick and tired of the way young girls are conditioned to believe they’re in need of saving. Of course, Disney is not the only guilty culprit in this atrocity against girls. No, there are other companies producing content that teaches girls that they are the inferior sex. I wasn’t born in this country, but Disney’s reach goes far beyond the United States. From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side. He was my protector, source of financial security, and only hope in avoiding a life of utter loneliness (aka being an old maid).
“From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side.”
After spending some time in introspection, I realized the lessons I learned from princess stories took root deeper than I’d known. As a young, impressionable child, I was taught that girls were dainty, well-mannered, prudent, homely, and soft-spoken. We were to wear beautiful dresses, perform our domestic chores, and remain silent in the presence of men. I was shown that our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers had final authority over us. It was acceptable for us to be locked away in a room somewhere to only enjoy the company of animals and imaginary friends, and it was perfectly alright for us to sacrifice our dreams to make another’s come true.
Arguably the biggest lessons princesses taught me were about romantic relationships. In books, TV shows, and movies, I saw that girls were expected to be married at a young age. Many of them were not educated or did not pursue higher education. A proper young lady was also trained in domesticity and had very few friends outside of family members. She never explored foreign lands or conquered dragons. No, she stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.
She waited patiently for a man to come and to rescue her. She didn’t question his decisions, wonder why he never asked for her opinion, or consider that there was more to her life. When conversing with a suitor, the young lady never inquired about his goals, fears, past relationships, or plans for their future. She didn’t want to know whether he was kind to his mother, had character flaws that might make the success of their marriage challenging, or cared about what she wanted in life. There were no discussions about children, religious affiliations, or political sidings. To make matters worse, there was never ever any talk about finances or how money would be handled in the relationship. These are all important things young girls must learn prior to marriage to avoid becoming stuck in relationships where they are unheard, unloved, and unappreciated.
“She stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.”
The fairy tale was filled with smiles, laughter, music, dancing, and colorful outfits, but it always ended before the real relationship began. The man endured adversity and braved whatever obstacles came in his way to get his human reward, but that was all she was—a prize. Once the rush of the pursuit was over, the story ended. After he won her heart, things miraculously became spectacular. We were told they lived happily ever after. This is not reality, and it’s far from what I desire.
Relationships are messy. People are fickle. We’re hot, cold, and wishy-washy when it comes to just about everything. I’m not waiting on a fairy tale because it is riddled with untruths. I’m not helpless. I’m unwilling to always be the one to sacrifice what matters most when my partner consistently gets what he wants. I’m more than my cooking, sewing, and cleaning skills.
I wish someone had told me fairy tales weren’t one-size-fits-all from the very beginning. This isn’t what I want my daughters growing up to believe. It’s probably safe to say that the dream of obtaining the fairy tale, as presented through the lens of Disney, no longer applies to me. Nevertheless, I continue to proudly reject its stereotypes and stand as a dissident. Life was never meant to be lived according to a specific blueprint. Quite frankly, outside of serving God and representing Christ well on this earth, everything else is up to me.
Fellow navigator, which fairy tale did you enjoy growing up? What love story did you secretly wish would become yours? When did you have the realization that life was not a fairy tale? Tell me about it!