Anyone who listens to my daughter tell her stories or who talks to her for a little while is likely to leave with the impression that she watches a lot of Disney movies. She knows the names of most of the “Disney” princesses; however, she has only seen The Little Mermaid and Cinderella. She has imaginary friends named Belle, Ariel, and Tinkerbell and her friends. (I remember not liking Tinkerbell when I was a teenager; I much preferred the pirates. It also always bothered me that the Disney Peter Pan animated movie portrays hook as having the hook on his left hand. It’s his right hand, his right hand, darn it! 😛 )
Besides the two princess movies, she’s seen very few Disney movies. So it is interesting to see how popular culture seeps in anyway. She’s seen the “Disney” princesses on products at the store. She has gotten countless Disney Tinkerbell products due to the fact that, when she was a baby, I did her nursery with a fairy theme and, in the States apparently, the only fairies in existence product-wise are Disney representations.
I am not comfortable with this hijacking of my daughter’s imagination by the larger corporate culture. I set out to resist the culture, but it is overwhelming sometimes. It also feels out of control, so I endeavour to control what I can. Limit TV/screen time. Screen movies (TV feels more uncontrollable, due to the myriad mini-shows that air between longer ones). Limit certain toys (Barbie made her first appearance at my daughter’s recent fifth birthday; I decided I could allow Barbie so long as dolls of many sizes, genders, and ethnicity made their way into the toy box). Communicate. Point out stereotypes (“girls love pink, boys love blue” or “girls have long hair, boys have short hair”). Question. Encourage questioning. Communicate. Try not to outright forbid too many things (I’m not moving on my anti-Bratz dolls stance, though). Breathe.