We just got back from a wonderful March break vacation. We spent a couple of days in Florida, and then went on a four-night Disney cruise through the Bahamas. It was as magical as you would imagine it to be; after all, Disney does magic like no other. This was a vacation more than two years in the planning, and we travelled with dear friends of ours who have a child similar in age to ours.
We had sun and sand and waterslides abound (Travel Tip: when attempting the tube slide at Disney’s private island, be aware that you will shoot out the bottom like a human cannonball and end up choking on Caribbean seawater; fun for the whole family to witness.). It was a week to remember, and our children, ages seven and four, are the perfect mix of old-enough-to-participate-in-everything and young-enough-to-believe-in-everything. And that’s where my slight hesitation comes in…..
Let’s not call this a problem. There are bigger problems in life than Disney cruises. Let’s not even call it an issue. Let’s perhaps call it a conundrum. Yes, let’s call it that, because conundrum is not a word I have ever used in a blog before and likely never will again. My conundrum is this:
Disney princesses are a big part of a Disney cruise, and perhaps a big part of the whole Disney experience itself. In fact, you have to line up just to get tickets that allow you to line up to actually meet said princesses. Now, my four year-old daughter is not what I would call a girly-girl, but she is somewhere between that and a tomboy. She likes to wear dresses, likes to have her fingernails painted, but also likes to have messy hair and play road hockey. Perhaps she would also like shoes and jewelry, but having me for a mother, she has not been exposed to much of that. Sorry ’bout your luck, kid.
But I played along, and we packed her princess dress and her crown, and lined up to get the meet-the-princess passes. My inner feminist was screaming “why?” Why am I encouraging this? Why am I teaching my daughter that she should strive to be a princess? I believe in independence! In strength! In celebrating accomplishment rather than beauty! Has Disney not read my blog? Harrumph.
And then I dialled it back and ate a Mickey bar. And I realized that imagination and wonder and make-believe are all important, incredible things, even if they come to us in the form of a makeup-ed, hair-sprayed princess. My little girl actually believed that she was meeting Princess Anna and Queen Elsa. She felt happy and confident and inspired. And you know what else? She actually believed that she was a princess too. So that’s a wonderful thing.
*** Disclaimer: Now I know some of you Disney fans will be thinking, “but what about so-and-so? She’s a strong princess that Disney has created! It’s not all Cinderella and Prince Charming anymore!” And while perhaps that is true, this post is more about the image of a princess in general. I recommend that you eat a Mickey bar to see my perspective.