Disney Almost Gets Brave

With any children’s movie made these days, it is a sure bet that the products meant to bring ancillary revenue will immediately follow. And so it is with Pixar’s “Brave”. I loved the movie, and have been anticipating the roll out of the merchandise. You may have already read my comparison of Mattel’s sexualized Merida doll to the toys offered at the Disney store, which is where we will be shopping for the very first time this weekend.

“Brave” is actually not the first movie we have seen as a family that has rubbed off on my kids. Other movies that my six year old daughter has loved:

1. “Nim’s Island” — she carried a blue rubber iguana around for months

2. “Land Before Time” — she was obsessed with dinosaurs and volcanoes for two years

3. “Free Willy 4” — an exhaustive internet search found a Bindi Irwin scientsit surfer girl from the Sydney Zoo

4. “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer” — fueled Amelia’s passion for mismatched socks and disgusting names for sandwiches

My daughter saw “Brave” on opening night, and we are going again as a family + grandparents this weekend. Both my six year old girl and four year old boy are in love with Merida’s character, and because I have advocated and waited so long for a heroine like this, I’m going to eat some crow and let them pick a toy from the Disney store. I’m thinking we’ll pick up some of the little action figure toys, as I’ve been saving cardboard boxes and plan to spray paint them in order to turn them into a castle and bear’s lair.  I always like to be an educated consumer, so I took a look on the Disney store website so I will know what to expect when we get to the store.

First, I noticed that with the box office success of the film the options for merchandise have quadrupled. I think Disney was holding back to see whether or not the film flopped. Second, I still really like the dolls and plush toys from Disney over what Mattel created for the big box shops. I am really pleased that Disney left Merida looking natural and just like a sixteen year old girl should look. Third, I immediately noticed some disconnect with the princess I saw in the film, and the princess Disney is marketing to my kids. Mostly, I cannot find a bow and arrow set, but do have the choice of a bedazzled magic wand.

Disney, you almost got it.

The princess dresses are your standard Disney fare that I was expecting. There is a lot that could have been done with the dress up collection that wasn’t. Shame.

I cannot recall Merida wearing feather bejeweled kitten heels in the movie. I imagine those would have made her action scenes a tish more dicey. Also, those heels make me think of the Playboy Mansion so we’ll be leaving those at the store. The description for these is ridiculous, as golden jewels do not a heroine make.

Brave slippers for girls from Disney. Indeed.

Great moogly boogly.











Next is the golden gladiator sandals which, again, Merida never wore. That’s the thing about 10th century Scots, they weren’t big on the bling. But Disney sure thinks it is in the genetic code of 21st century girls! Squee!

A step up from the bedroom kitten heels.

This description does encourage some adventurous play. I wonder if the constricting sandals would allow it?










Now, I’m wearing gladiator sandals today (magenta pink, to boot) and I suppose I could run and play in them. I’m not sure I could fight a bear in them, but then again I’m also not willing to try. I do like the description for these better than the heels, as at least this focuses on what a girl is doing, rather than how she looks. I would like Disney to have the foresight to create deep green soft-soled ballet flats just like Merida’s from the movie, adorned with a Celtic knot….something to run and climb and jump and play in, just like Merida.

I’ve saved the best for last. I paid very, very close attention the movie. I recall Merida climbing a waterfall, commanding her giant horse, wielding a sword, and showing time and again that she is an expert archer. My daughter really loved the archery theme to the movie, so I was looking for a bow and arrow set she could play with outside while she defended our tree fort. Would you believe Disney doesn’t carry one? Amazon does, so I’m hoping Disney just sold out of theirs. Because I missed the part when Merida was holding this:

What. In. The. World.

Wouldn't shimmering jewels and flashing lights attract bears? Me thinks yes.











I still plan to let my kids pick out some little figures from the Disney Store that they can use in the castle we build, but I won’t be getting them any of the dress up clothes. I need my little Scottish adventurers to be running with wild abandon through my backyard (using pool noodles for bows I suppose). And because I’m writing a book on the gendered marketing towards girls, I won’t have the time to fix busted children’s high heels or torn jeweled sparkle dresses.

So while “Brave” sits at #1 across America this week and is earning an A rating from audiences everywhere, one could assume Americans were ready for a self-rescuing, doesn’t-need-a-prince, adventuring not-focusedon-my-looks princess. I guess Disney wasn’t.



Update: I love to make things and craft with my kids, so I knew if I spent enough time on Pinterest I’d a way to make our own bow and arrow so that the kids can pretend to be having adventures right along side Merida. It took me all of 15 seconds to find this project, which we’ll be doing this weekend! I think I’m going to have the kids include the colors from our family’s tartan and draw our own Celtic knots to adorn the bow.  Find the project HERE.


Make your own bow for a little Highland Games action in the backyard!

Fairytales and the Next Best Thing

I love fairytales, like the one about a heroic unicorn my grandmother wrote and illustrated for me when I was a child, that I know read to my six year old daughter, Amelia. We are crazy excited to see “Brave”, and find out just how adventurous of a princess Merida really is. (Please, oh, please, Pixar, do not let my little girl down.)

We had inherited all of these Disney movies from my aunt, and I didn’t mind Amelia watching any of the princess movies now that she is older and has more critical thinking skills. We like Tangled, I knew she would like Mulan, and we still haven’t seen but are looking forward to Princess and the Frog.

It is no secret that our family is not big on passive princesses, like most of those of the Disney variety. In fact, my six year old has only seen two of the Disney Princess movies: Tangled and Little Mermaid. The first was my choosing, and we enjoyed it but I wasn’t in love with it. Little Mermaid was all my husband, he wasn’t familiar with the storyline and thought it was one of Amelia’s ocean videos. The child is convinced she is part dolphin, and recently has developed a love of mermaids. In my humble opinion, Little Mermaid is the worst of the worst of the DP movies, because a woman should never give away her voice or physically change herself to be with a man. I think there’s a difference between taking a little nap while your gallant prince fights for your safety, and say, giving away your most prized physical attribute so you can fall in love with a hot guy you saw on a boat. And yes, I get that my daughter probably isn’t drawing these same messages out of the story because she’s 6 and I’m 34.

The other day this conversation took place:

“Mom, the dad in Little Mermaid is so mean.” -Amelia

“How is he mean?” -Me

“He just yells at Ariel and doesn’t let her do what she wants.” -Amelia

“That’s because he is being a parent. It isn’t his job to be her friend.” -Me

“But she just wants to go on land and be with her boyfriend.” -Amelia

“Actually what she is doing is changing the most amazing thing about who she is, and giving that away to a person who is evil and manipulating her, all so she can completely change herself and abandon her family to be with a boy that she doesn’t know and who doesn’t know her.” -Me

‘Oh. Well, would you ever do that for Daddy?” -Amelia

“Good Lord, no.” -Me

“Your body got different when me and Ben were in your tummy. So that’s the same.” -Amelia

“That’s the complete opposite. Daddy had fallen in love with me for who I was as a person long before my body changed during pregnancy. Daddy and I were in love for six years before you came along. And having your body change while you grow a child is not the same as changing your body so someone will find you more attractive and hopefully fall in love with you.” -Me

“Well none of this matters because I’m never having babies.” -Amelia

“That is fine, and your opinion on that may or may not change. But you will most likely fall in love with someone and I want very much for that person to love and cherish you for you, for who you are as a complete person. You’ll be much happier in life if you surround yourself with people who value and accept you for being your authentic self.” -Me

Your Royal Highness

I don’ t mind the concpet of “princess” within girlhood. I mind when it is obectified and sexualized. We hosted two playdates in the last couple of days during which the little ladies turned themsevles into princesses. Princesses full of imagination and childhood sweetness? I can handle that.

Our house is Disney Princess free except for a Snow White book from when I was a kid. I’m not anti-Disney. For the most part. My shark/dolphin/puzzle/dinosaur/Dr. Seuss/art loving daughter would rather be playing outside with the dogs or reading books than playing princess. But every once in awhile she does enjoy it and since childhood should be rich in experiences, we play “princess”. She is certainly quickly learning that to be social with her little girlfriends, she has to understand “princess culture”.

We don’t have plastic kitten heels with feathers for her, we don’t have a tiara, we don’t have a princess vanity.  She does have play jewelry and barely-there play make-up, a drawer full of dressup clothes, ballet slippers and tutus. If she wants to play princess, I’m okay with that, as long as she wants to play ten other things during the week. But she won’t play Disney’s version of princess, or dress up with pre-conceived notions of how a princess should look. Or act. Or weigh.

Here’s how we do “princess” at our house:

The girls dressed up as "Spider Princesses", which involves running around and screaming. A lot. And very loudly.


The "Wedding Princesses", who took turns asking my husband to be their "wedding boy" and held multiple weddings with a 20minutes period.

Ample Bosomed Toddler Princesses: Really, Disney?

Your little girl can be an ample bosomed princess too!

This picture came about through friends of Pigtail Pals, Nic and Jenn. They have a friend who was shopping at Target and found this shirt. No sooner did I get a tweet from Nic and Jenn hollering “Has @PigtailPals seen this?”. Whenever I see that come across on twitter, I slowly take a sip of coffee and prepare for my head to explode.

Last week it was a singing, potty training pink toilet with Princesses all over it. *Boom*. Yesterday it was a mother who had dressed her infant daughter in a hot pink bikini and fish nets, and held her up to the pole of a floor lamp, suggesting the babe was a pint sized stripper. *Boom*

And today it was this t-shirt. *Boom* Head. Exploded. We all know how I feel about the Princesses, this is exactly why.  So as I thought about writing a post, it just felt very yadda yadda yadda. Instead, I asked good Pigtail Pals buddy Jenn to write a post. Because she, and her little gal V, do like the Princesses. Below, Jenn makes an excellent point.

And here’s what she has to say…….

My husband and I tend to be a fairly liberal parents. Permissive, if you will.

OK, lets just say it.

Our daughter is completely spoiled.

There’s not a lot that we veto in our house. If she shows an interest in something, there’s a good bet that soon or later it will show up in our house.

Our living room looks like Disney exploded in it.

For a long time it was everything Winnie-the-Pooh. Now that she’s three, Disney Princesses are where it’s at.

She has Disney Princess figurines, castles, coloring books, dishes, clothes, wall decals, every Disney Princess movie known to man, you name it. She even has her own Disney Princess bouncy castle. No, I’m not even kidding. Remember when I said she’s spoiled?

It would be fair to say that, as a family, we are pro-Disney. I grew up watching Disney every Sunday night with my family. It’s a warm and fuzzy place for me.

So it was with great dismay that this TwitPic came to my attention this morning via my follower @VampireSmitten after she saw @posielove post it.

Go take a look at it above. I’ll give you a second.

Got it?

Yeah… so… about that shirt. Oh, where should I start…

My first reaction was an all caps ‘OMG’, followed closely by ‘my kid would wear that over my dead body’.

I understand the makers were going for a ‘You too can be a princess!’ message. However, they missed the mark completely.

I also recognize the Disney Princess are drawn with, shall we say, rather ample bosoms. I get that, and I’m pretty OK with it. It’s been a source of many jokes between my husband and I.

I do NOT want those same ample bosoms superimposed on my three year old.

As I said in conversation with someone about this earlier, I don’t want to think about someone staring at breasts on my kid (fake / drawn / otherwise). The ‘ick’ factor is high.

But it’s not just the fake boobs I take issue with on this shirt.

Take another look at the shirt.

Look at where Cinderella’s waist falls in comparison to the waist of the shirt.

What sort of message is that sending to young girls who are wearing that?

Here’s Cinderella’s waist <-> and here’s yours <——–>.

I don’t want my daughter to ever look in a mirror and think that she should have a waist like that. Ever. Why? Because it’s not realistic. Unless you’re closely related to Barbie. But in the real world? Not going to happen.

So why even put such an thought out for consideration?

As with anything in life, there can be fine lines when you’re discussing hypersexualization of young girls. This shirt jumped over that line.

It’s one thing for little girls to dress up in princess costumes that are falling off them as the run screaming around the house. It’s another entirely to overlay a completely unrealistic picture of what a princess ‘should’ look like over my daughters body image.

When Jenn isn’t busy being a spoiled wife or taking care of her beautiful special-needs daughter, she is running her mouth on her blog, Princess Prose . Her spare time is spent designing, coding, and prettying-up other people’s blogs and websites at Designs By PrincessJenn.