Forget the witch; the Disney princesses are truly terrifying
Disney isn’t necessarily to blame for the princess mania that is currently engulfing our culture in swathes of pink tulle, but they’re certainly making a shit-ton of money off it. As Peggy Orenstein reports in her new book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, back in 2000 a Disney exec attended a “Disney on Ice” show and noticed how many little girls were dressed up in princess costumes…homemade princess costumes. And thus the princes industrial complex was born. There are currently more than 26,000 Disney Princess items on the market, and in 2009, Princess products generated sales of $4 billion.
But why was there such an obsession to cash in on in the first place? One explanation Orenstein examines is the developmental psychology research which shows that until as late as age seven, children believe that your preferences and appearance — from your toys to your outfit to your hairstyle to your favorite color — are what determine your sex. ”It makes sense, then, that to ensure you will stay the sex you were born you’d adhere rigidly to the rules as you see them and hope for the best,” Orenstein writes. “That’s why 4-year-olds, who are in what is called ‘the inflexible stage,’ become the self- appointed chiefs of the gender police. Suddenly the magnetic lure of the Disney Princesses became more clear to me: developmentally speaking, they were genius, dovetailing with the precise moment that girls need to prove they are girls, when they will latch on to the most exaggerated images their culture offers in order to stridently shore up their femininity.”
All of which only makes us even more in awe of the little five-year-old boy who dressed up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween.
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