Those of you that have daughters may have noticed something – little girls are in quite a hurry to grow up. The very phrase “grown-up” or “big-girl” can motivate even the most stubborn little girl into action. Once they’re potty trained and sleeping in their big girl bed, we stop wanting them to be bigger; but they keep on wanting to be more grown up. It was when I volunteered to help out in my daughter’s first grade class that I noticed a problem. All the little six year old girls had lunch boxes, folders, pencils, t-shirts, etc. with characters on them. You might be picturing Princesses, Fairies, Winnie the Pooh, Teddy Bears, and rainbows. That’s what I would have thought. Instead I saw Hannah Montana, Justin Beiber, iCarly, and, yes, Twilight. There is something very wrong with seeing a six year old wearing “I heart Vampires” on her chest. I don’t want to step on any toes, but are we letting these sweet little girls grow up a tad too fast?
There is more to this issue than just t-shirts and merchandise. This new age of sitcoms and movies being marketed to increasingly younger audiences could be leading to an end of an era. I’m not the only one to notice the change in children’s interests. Disney’s marketing giants have noticed as well. And it could mean an end to the fairy tales and princess movies we’ve all grown to love. Shortly before Tangled was released, LA Times printed this article, “Disney Animation is closing the book on fairy tales”. In it, they note that princesses and the ideals they represent have a limited shelf life. The tween TV that is so popular has brought new adolescent role models for young girls. Note this quote:
“By the time they’re 5 or 6, they’re not interested in being princesses,” said Dafna Lemish, chairwoman of the radio and TV department at Southern Illinois University and an expert in the role of media in children’s lives. “They’re interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values.”
Five or Six? Is this the life span of tiaras, princesses, and fairy tales? And yet, after observing what children are interested in, I see their point. Going to the theater and seeing young elementary school age children in line to see Transformers, Iron Man, and Twilight movies, it’s hard for a Disney animated fairy tale movie to compete with those at the box office. When they received some negative response from the LA Times article, Pixar Studios chief Ed Catmull issued a statement saying that is wasn’t necessarily true that fairy tales are a thing of the past. However, the two fairy tales Disney had in development have been cancelled.
It’s important for us to remember that Disney is, after all, a business. They will only make movies they know people will go see. So if you are as disillusioned by this as I am, maybe it’s not too late to change things. Part of living a Disney driven life, is making Disney, in all its’ pink princess fairy tale glory, a part of our children’s lives. Trips to Disney can help keep that magic of childhood alive in our children. On a recent trip to Disney, my daughter and her best friend informed me that they didn’t really watch princess movies any more. They are seven and eight years old. Well, I decided to remind them of how good they are. So we watched several of the movies together on the drive, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella. Needless to say, they were riveted by them, singing along and enjoying every minute. My daughter said she had forgotten how good they were. I guess I had forgotten to remind her. Let’s all remind our young (and older) girls that we are never too old for fairy tales. So put on those tiaras, grab those magic wands, and let’s make some magic.
Contributed by: Serena Skretvedt (NDM#332) Serena is the DDL Psychology, Sociology, and Photography Blogger.