The Disney philosopher

Princess Raging Bull

My little princess in all her beauty

The Raging Bull, now nearly four, is becoming an amusing little child – and one who doesn’t stop talking.

Most of her comments on the world are tinged with a degree of aggression. She doesn’t just speak, she literally yells at you. Hence, she will say, ‘I have a bright idea’ quite loudly. If you’re in the middle of a sentence, she will just shout you down until you listen. Her bright ideas usually include television.

Ah, television. Not very long ago I blogged about new research suggesting it’s not all that bad and not necessarily linked to behavioral problems.

But these wise researchers have not met the Raging Bull, who seems to have picked up her philosophy on life from Disney princess movies.

The other day, while I’m standing in the bathroom, she says to me very seriously that she isn’t friends with a certain boy in her preschool class because ‘he isn’t pretty’.

This is the same reason she’s not friends with Daddy, as it turns out.

So I said to her: ‘But you don’t make friends with someone just because of how they look. If someone wasn’t pretty, but they were nice, you would be friends with them, right?’ I uttered this last sentence with hope in my heart.

Her answer was emphatic: ‘Uh, uh,’ she exclaimed, shaking her head dramatically.

So there it is, her dim view of friendship. I knew trying to change her mind was totally hopeless. I’d have better luck trying to convince Donald Trump that Obama isn’t bad for the United States.

In the days that follow my three-year-old’s statement, I wonder how much of this thinking she has picked up from her obsession with Disney movies.

While part of me swears that Disney princess movies are harmless fun, another part of me is thinking that my child is going to see everything through the prism of Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

The message seems to be: Don’t worry about getting a job or learning to be independent, because a Prince will come along and rescue you when you most need it. It helps if you can sing or have small feet.

There’s also the worrying pattern in the films that everyone who’s ‘good’ is pretty, while all the evil characters are either deformed or ugly for one reason or another. No wonder she thinks people who don’t live up to some mythical standard of beauty are suspect.

But I’m not really prepared to take a forceful stand on the matter. I know she likes these films and looking ‘pretty’ –  in other words, she wants to dress up as a fairy or a princess to look beautiful. I was exactly the same way at her age, and I think I turned out all right. I believe in women’s rights; I believe women can achieve anything. I certainly believe they don’t have to rely on men.

It doesn’t escape my notice, however, that this conversation with my child takes place in the bathroom while I am putting on make-up to make myself, for all intents and purposes, prettier and more presentable. Does it matter that I’m only doing this for myself and not for my Prince Charming?

And so I ask the Raging Bull, in a moment of weak-willed vanity: ‘Do you think Mommy is pretty?’

She flashes me her angelic smile and says yes.

This gives me a rush of joy. Like mother, like daughter.

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