Why Sexing Things Up For Kids Is Stupid: A Study in Illustrations

The mainstream is the litmus test for society, right? So when this is the mainstream image children get of females while they are in childhood, what are we saying? What do we value? Does that help our children, in correspondence with their development? Or does that harm?

My new favorite person, David Trumble, made this amazing cartoon (BELOW) with co-conspirator Lori Day to make a satirical and pointed display of how unnecessary the sexing up of Merida (and really, all of the princesses) was by giving similar makeovers to famous members of women’s history.

Take in the big picture and write down your guesses of who the women below are, but do this before reading his post on the satirical “World of Women” princess collection.

Once you figure out who is who, the way Disney does “female” becomes so blaring and obvious….

David Trumble's new crop of princesses. Brilliant.

A PPBB Community Member said on facebook: “I guessed only two correctly. David Trumble’s work here stripped away the uniqueness, the power, and the greatness of these women by turning them into Disney princesses. They’ve been stripped of their identities, of their individuality that makes them all so inspiring. Extremely powerful. Kudos to David.” -Whitney Lundy

Also, you should take 18 minutes to listen to David’s Tedx talk. Listen with your tween/teen if you’ve got one.

 

But we are SO used to seeing women look like this, both in illustrated form for children and video games and in advertising. Do we even see it anymore?

Does Batman help?

Questions you should be asking yourself (and your kids!) while taking this in: Would we ever see a man posed this way? Do any women you know in real life stand this way? Why is this the version of femininity that is taught by the mainstream to our kids?

Matthew Bogart did a splendid job of this, and his post is a great read.

My seven year old daughter has finally figured out the mechanics of sex, and that I had sex with her father to create her. She is horrified by this concept. And isn’t that how seven year olds SHOULD think? I’m a big fan of “Everything in its time” but the problem is, our kids don’t get their “time” anymore.

Stop with the sexy for the kids. I mean really. It isn’t necessary. It isn’t healthy for them. And it isn’t needed to turn a profit. Do better.

It is disheartening to think that I am raising my brilliant, vibrant children in a society so obsessed with tits and ass. We seriously need to find something more meaningful to do with our time.

And we need to stop including our kids in that obsession.

Comments

  1. “It is disheartening to think that I am raising my brilliant, vibrant children in a society so obsessed with tits and ass. We seriously need to find something more meaningful to do with our time.

    And we need to stop including our kids in that obsession.”

    A thousand yes’s to this!

    I feel like the pendulum has swung into orbit around Mars, and we’ve got to team up to wrestle it back to Earth.

  2. Natalie says:

    Did you read the comments on David’s blog post? ‘Paraphrased: I love this idea, if only they weren’t all so skinny and didn’t have plunging necklines.’ Oy!

  3. Scary how many of those who responded didn’t get his point.

  4. Poe’s Law:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

    This is why so many people miss the point.

  5. Thanks for the link! I hadn’t seen the Ted talk. I’m looking forward to it!

  6. LtTawnyMadison says:

    I think they all look fabulous! *sarcasm off*

    What I really love about this is that those illustrations were both done by men. It shows that men “get it” too, and can be just as fed up with it as women. Some of the best comments about the Merida makeover have been by men.

  7. (I apologise that this is very lengthy; I tend to ramble.)

    I completely understand the point being made here and in your other articles pertaining to this subject. And while I love your blog so much, and that’s why I keep coming back to it, it’s really beginning to feel like you’re shaming girls who happen to be like and admire the “stereotypical” Disney princesses. Yes, Disney needs to deepen their well of characters to include girls who are more like Merida and Mulan. However, what the other girls represent aren’t necessarily unrealistic nor wrong either. I’d like to point out that each of the girls do have a unique personality of their own (albeit the older ones are very similar, and Aurora’s is severely lacking considering her only eighteen minutes of total screen time) and personality, not looks, is what matters most.

    I don’t mean to make it seem as if I am negating the arguments you’ve been raising (very valid arguments at that), and the way they are marketed is problematic. I, personally, think it would help if they would change their marketing art style as a whole, as I feel no matter how hard they try, the girls are never really going to be represented as they should be. Also, the themes they choose in terms of outfit design (i.e. the sparkles this year) are also limiting, and again, misrepresent all the girls true personalities.

    The point I’m attempting to make here is that the general tone I’ve been getting here is the shaming of the more traditionally “feminine” girls and that real girls are/should be like Merida. I put feminine in quotation marks simply because that we cannot define girlhood, and what being feminine really is. There is no wrong personality; girls like Merida could still be considered “girly” because she is a girl and being edgier should not mean that her personality is more towards that of a boy or that a girl like Snow White is more towards that of a girl and unlike how a boy acts. There is (or should be) no clear definition of right or wrong; wishing for a prince to come is okay and wanting to ride free into the sunset is okay as well, too.

    • I’d like to add that real girls similar to the Disney Princesses do exist and are not sexualised in any way. I, myself am one of those girls, and I’ve been slightly offended on occasions like this (particularly with this Merida controversy). I am a dainty (born on the light end of the spectrum) sixteen year old girl who loves dresses and the colour magenta and Disney movies and I relate to Belle and Rapunzel and even Snow White! In no way does that make me inferior. Just because I like dresses that reveal my shoulders does not mean that I am sexualised nor does how I look define me. Quite the opposite, I read and write at a college graduate level, I am graduating from high school early, I plan on double majoring in theatre and English literature, I am very open about my bi-sexuality, and I have a pixie cut and a nose piercing. Disney is what helped motivate me to pursue my dreams, and was not detrimental to my childhood, but instead beneficial. Returning to Disney helped me overcome my clinical depression after six years of depression.

      While I love reading your blog, I would just like to remind you to consider the portion of your audience like me; for nothing is black or white. Instead, our reality is grey (or rainbow, depending on your preference) and more complex than either “side” presents it to be.

    • Hi Grace –
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think I have ever shamed girls for liking princesses. I have attacked the messages Princess Culture teaches girls and how Disney markets its princesses. But that isn’t the same thing as attacking girls.

      What is “traditionally feminine”? Grace Kelly or Amelia Earhart? Eleanor Roosevelt or Elizabeth Taylor? I believe there are many ways to be a girl. It is okay if princess is one of them, as long as there are eleven other slices of the pie.

      • And what lesson exactly are you saying the Princess Culture teaches girls? And by “Princess Culture” you mean how every company markets princesses, not just Disney? In terms of Disney Princess culture, I think it instills good values. Other companies and the stereotypes that persist with them, I can’t argue on and may generally agree with you in that sense.

        I feel at least the Disney’s princess, even the early ones, essentially radiate good values that we all can learn from.

        Snow White: Constant kindness and pervading sense of hope; optimistic in even the most dire situations (she was going to be stabbed!). All she wanted was love; think about it, we don’t entirely know of the society around her, but from what we know, she didn’t have a loving household. She didn’t *need* a man; she just wanted love from one.

        Cinderella: Hard working, strong sense of being, patient with event those rude to her. Again, given her circumstances, the one thing she wanted was to just go to the ball. She didn’t necessarily expect to find the love of her life; it just happened. She just found love while pursuing her dreams, that’s all.

        Aurora: Wasn’t around many people, longed the society of people and finding love. Found out her whole life was a lie; she wasn’t thrilled when she found out she was a princess.

        Ariel: Adventurous, ambitious, daring, spirited. She longed to be human way before she met Eric.

        Belle: Smart, loved to read, not afraid to speak her mind, not afraid to be “odd”. She had to put up with the Beast simply because of her father. She selflessly gave her life to save her father. Somehow, she manages to see the best in people, and she saw the best in the Beast.

        Etcetera… I could really go on, however you get the point I’m attempting to make. I’m not trying to force my opinion down your throat, just disagreeing with the points you make on Disney. Technically, none of these girls necessarily relied on the guys to save them. It’s all chance and opportunity.

        Well, I thank you for actually taking the time to read my extraordinarily lengthy comments. Despite our different views, I will continue to read your blog. Adieu.

  8. HyeKeen says:

    Don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, but HOORAY – they’ve pulled the sexy made-over Merida images. Go Team Childhood!!!

    http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_23257144/disney-pulls-sexy-makeover-brave-heroine-merida-from?source=rss

    And just to add my two cents to the last few comments on this post, I don’t think the issue at hand is so much the devaluing of those who want to look cute or princessy, it’s the fact that Disney keeps “sexifying” these images that are marketed to LITTLE GIRLS!!!! Childhood keeps getting pushed down to ever lower ages when kids icons are sexified, when padded bras and thong underwear are marketed to 12 year olds and all the other stuff Melissa has written about on this blog.

    My daughter also likes to play princess and that’s fine, but I also want her to not have to deal with thinking she needs to look sexy with her shoulders bared, or have an unrealistically thin waist, etc. When all the Disney princesses morph into sexy princesses, that’s what these little girls will think. We’re not advocating for the removal of the princesses – pink – dresses – or dressing up; we’re advocating for keeping their images in line with what we want for our young girls, age appropriate dress/look is what we’re asking for. And by keeping Merida as she is, she stays age appropriate for the young ones. We’re also asking for diversity – and by sexing up all the princesses, we lose diversity. Not all of us like “girly-girl” stuff, why can’t the Disney princesses reflect that?

  9. I was confused as to from which group we were drawing to “guess” who the “faux princesses” were. I actually thought for a moment that they were the Disney crew re-imagined. It would probably be a little clearer if you mentioned in the paragraph before the cartoon that these were women of history.

    Presently the text before the cartoon reads:

    “My new favorite person, David Trumble, made this amazing cartoon with co-conspirator Lori Day to make a satirical and pointed display of how redonkulous the sexing up of Merida (and really, all of the princesses) was.

    Take in the big picture and write down your guesses before reading his post on the satirical “World of Women” princess collection.

    Once you figure out who is who, the way Disney does “female” becomes so blaring and obvious….”

    None of that(to me anyway) suggested that these were to be historical women. I read it again and again, trying to determine any kind of clues who these cartoons were supposed to represent. And because I didn’t have any idea, I clicked on through to the Huff Po article where I then understood the point you were trying to make. I’d suggest that you add just a bit more to clue in your reader as I just spent most of my time on this article scratching my head about who I was supposed to be looking at.
    Cheers,
    S

    • Sarah,
      Sorry if that was confusing. I’ve edited the post to make it (hopefully) more clear with what I was asking people to look at.

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