Before I had children I, maybe like you, wanted to raise my kids to like whatever they wanted regardless of gender. I still hold those beliefs firm in my heart, but now that I’m a mom of a boy and of a girl, I know there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop my boy from being interested in action heroes and fast cars. Likewise, I couldn’t stop my 3-year-old girl from becoming Frozen obsessed. In fact she currently will only answer to the name, “Elsa.” And now she wants to watch all princess movies.
Truthfully, as a woman I’ve never wanted my daughter to watch princess movies for fear she’d take away messages that are detrimental to a young girl’s self esteem. I was taught to fend for myself and never raised to think I had to have a man in my life. I want my daughter to share those values, so I’m worried that she’ll take the wrong messages away from Cinderella or Snow White. But if you’ve ever spent time with 3-year-old girls you know they are savvy negotiators. And, they’re relentless.
So instead of resisting, I decided to look for the good in princess movies. Here’s what I found:
1. It’s Better To Be Good Than Bad
Princess movies always have someone who’s good and someone who’s evil. The evil character never wins in the end. I remember having to make decisions about right versus wrong when I was a kid. Hopefully, my daughter’s memory of princess movies will help her make the right choices when it comes to bad behavior like cheating or being unkind to others. I did.
2. Jealous People Never Win In The End
In Tangled, super creepy and mean Mother Gothel kidnaps Princess Rapunzel to steal the healing powers of a magical flower, which is growing in the princess’ golden hair. In the end, Mother Gothel becomes powerless. I love the idea that my girl can see that even though it seems like Mother Gothel is getting away with stealing Rapunzel’s powers, she’s not and she won’t!
3. When You’re In Trouble, You Can Count On Your Friends — who may or may not be dwarves.
Let’s face it, where would Snow White have been without the help of the seven dwarves? She would have been stuck with the evil queen. So thanks to Snow White, my kid will know she can count on her friends when she’s in trouble. Aww.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New.
In Frozen Elsa was hidden away, certain her powers would cause harm to those she loved. I never thought of Frozen as a princess movie, but technically it is about princesses. So I asked my 6-year-old son what lesson he took away from the movie and I loved that he said, “If she had been willing to try something new and even go to the North Mountain with her sister, she wouldn’t have been so lonely.” True!
5. Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
In Beauty and the Beast, Belle falls in love with the Beast, and then finds out he is really a prince. Let’s face it, most of us would not have fallen for a beast. But little girls can learn through Belle’s experience, that looks don’t matter. Who you are does. I hope my girl remembers that forever!
6. You Can Live Happily Ever After, Unless You’re A Bad Guy
Princess movies always end with everyone living happily ever after except for the bad guy or mean witch. I love this message for the simple fact that kids often feel like life isn’t fair and that bad kids often get away with stuff. As adults we know, or at least hope, that everyone gets what they deserve in the end. Good guys and bad guys.
7. If You Get Bullied, It Doesn’t Mean You Did Something To Deserve It
Cinderella is treated badly by her evil step-sisters because they’re jealous of her, but that doesn’t mean she did anything to deserve it. Chances are every girl is eventually going to deal with her own version of jealous step-sisters — the local mean girls. I did. I want my girl to know that jealousy and bullying from others isn’t her fault.
8. Don’t Rush Into Things
When Anna meets Prince Hanz in Frozen, she falls in love without really knowing him. She nearly loses the kingdom to him when she rushed to get engaged because she was so lonely. Every woman has been Anna at some point in her life, wanting a friendship or relationship to be perfect from the start. I’ve learned that often when relationships start perfect they end poorly. I hope my girl will learn to be patient and let relationships grow at a more natural, slower pace.
9. There’s Nothing Wrong With You The Way You Are
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel totally transforms herself to get Prince Eric to like her, but ends up getting rid of everything he liked about her. Ugh. Haven’t we all been Ariel at some point in our life? It’s a hollow feeling to always try to be what you think someone else likes. My girl can watch The Little Mermaid again and again, if it helps her skip this phase of her life. I wish I had.
10. Always Tell The Truth
Mulan had really good reasons for pretending to be a man and fight in the army, but she made Sheng feel betrayed. I don’t like being lied to and nothing good has ever come from white lies I’ve told that I thought were totally innocent. So even when it seems harmless, it’s best to tell the truth.
Sure my daughter might learn that all mothers are evil and believe going to sleep means someone put an evil spell on her, but I’m willing to take that chance. There’s actually some good that can come out of my little princess watching princess movies.