If your family is like ours, you've lived through the princess craze from Aurora to Cinderella to Belle to the newest sisterly dynamic duo—Elsa and Anna. You've watched the movies, heard the songs and dressed your daughters in miniature gowns and tiaras (or been dressed in them if you're a young reader).
What kind of role models are these princesses to girls today? Or do girls even give any thought to them. After all, Snow White and Aurora are far removed from our lifestyles today.
A while back I posted about the Disney princesses. Basically I gave my version of their stories. I've included that in this post too. That part is in italics. I'm going to attempt to add to it but giving my thoughts on what girls learn from these princesses—and really, a lot of that depends on the parents.
Hopefully you watch the movies with your children and they serve as a springboard for important discussions on values, goals, motives, relationships and so on. If children watch movies, who knows how they may interpret the values, if at all.
Jasmine is a strong, confident princess who doesn't want anyone to tell her what to do, including her father. She longs for her independence. She meets Aladdin, who is disguised as a prince, and goes on a ride on a magic carpet--and of course falls in love with Aladdin. After a lot of plotting, and battles between good and evil, Aladdin realizes he can't keep pretending to be who he's not. With the help of a Genie, he gets things worked out and is allowed to marry Princess Jasmine even though he's not royalty. There's a lot of deceit and lying going on in this movie, but of course it all works out in the end.
Jasmine was determined to live life the way she wanted rather than letting others make decisions for her. Her values and freedom were worth more to her than money or position. That's not to say it's okay to disobey parents or those in authority, but neither should parents be making decisions about a child's adult life for them. God reveals his plan for a person to that person, not the parents, teacher, pastor or other person. God leads each person in different and unique ways.
Living the lesson: Never be afraid to run head first into your future. Don't let the desire for money, prestige or position be your guide. Embrace life and live intentionally. Having money or fame doesn't guarantee success or we wouldn't have movie stars and sports heroes committing suicide. Live with no regrets.
Key verse: For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Resources for today's girls
A Girl's Guide to Making Really Good Choices by Elizabeth George
The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel
Pocahontas is an adventurer and nature lover who talks to the spirits. She is noble and wise beyond her years. The daughter of a Native American Chief, she meets John Smith in the wilderness and they fall in love. But it's not meant to be. John takes the blame for killing someone he didn't kill in order to protect young Thomas. He's going to be executed, but is saved at the last minute. Just as it looks like everything will turn out okay, he is shot while protecting the chief and John returns to England for medical treatment. And of course the movie wouldn't be the same without the raccoon.
No, the movie is not historically accurate. But that's not what little girls care about. They care about the princesses, and Pocahontas was one brave princess. She saved her tribe and made peace between her tribe and the settlers. It's not easy to go against tradition, superstition and prejudice, especially when there's a powerful father involved. But she stood up for herself and for others.
Living the lesson: Just because something has been done a certain way for a long time doesn't mean it's right. Just because the majority of people believe something doesn't mean it's right. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and others even when it's hard. Different groups of people may have to work hard to understand each other. But learning respect for others is an important lesson, and sometimes it takes courage to follow through. Be open to new things, ideas and people.
Key verses for Pocahontas: When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them. Proverbs 16:7
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Resources for today's girls
Just for Me! My Family by Katrina Cassel
The One Year Devos for Animal Lovers by Dandi Mackall (remember all the wildlife friends Pocahontas had!)
Mulan is different from the other Chinese girls of her time. Although beautiful, she's clumsy and outspoken. She's also brave and loyal. Disguising herself as a boy, she takes her father's place in the army, with an (very small, humorous) ancestral dragon to help her. When Mulan is injured, her true gender is discovered, and she's kicked out of the army. Still, she ends up being the hero in the end, saving China and winning the love of her former commander.
Mulan changed herself for guy, but in her case, the guy was her father. She took on a male identity in order to take her father's place. She didn't change herself for Shang, but he was attracted to her anyway. Always honorable, Mulan saved the day and won the guy.
Living the lesson: Be yourself so people will like you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. You were created to fulfill a certain purpose, so if you try to be someone else, you'll miss the perfect plan God has for you.
Key verse: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
Resources for today's girls:
Everyone Tells Me to Be Myself, But I Don't Know Who I Am by Nancy Rue
The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book by Katrina Cassel
And for all the princesses in your life: