I have a four year old niece who is obsessed with wanting to be a princess. She wants to have long flowing hair (i.e. straight), hers is curly and difficult to tame. She wants a princess dress (i.e. puffy). She likes to wear nail polish, acts cutesy and all girly. I'm finding this totally and utterly annoying.
Growing up, I was a tomboy. As a teenager, I was a tomboy. Now, in my late thirties, I'm still a tomboy. I dressed in shorts and sneakers. I too have curly disobedient hair, I always wore it in two long braids, now I wear a veil. I played astek with my fiends and ran after boys and beat the crap out them. The scars on my knees attest to my school yard adventures. I don't remember much prior to turning seven. From the photographs in the family album, I can only infer that my mother attempted, yet failed, to morph me into a sweet princess by putting me in pink dresses. My idols where Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman and Lindsay Wagner from The Bionic Woman. I wanted to be Wonder Woman. Little did I know that I had my own super hero at home who raised me to be a strong independent woman just like her. Although I have very little say, if any, on how my niece is raised, I can't help but wonder about the female role models she is exposed to in global media.
Despite the recent uproar in regards to Merida's makeover, Pixar movies have showcased the best role models for young girls. In Toy Story 2 we are introduced to the tenacious strong-willed defiant Jesse. She is as much part of the action as are Woody and Buzz. In A Bug's Life there's both the wise Ant Queen and princess Atta. Although misplacing their fates in Flik, they do not stand down from their responsibilities towards the colony. Even in Monsters, Inc, Boo courageously explores Mike and Sulley world.
As I struggle to accept that my niece will become the woman she is meant to be, in spite of me. I can't help but pray that she embodies the strength, perseverance, and resourcefulness of Mrs. Incredible, take charge attitude of Sally from Cars, and the free adventurous nature of Ellie from Up. Only then will she become a true princess.