As I was watching Frozen with my three-year-old daughter I got to thinking about the messages that Disney princesses send to her. When I was a girl, my favorite Disney movie was Cinderella. I wanted to be taken away from my crazy life and unstable childhood. I wanted the prince to make everything better. I wanted the prince to make me feel loved.
From a young age, I thought I always had to be in a relationship. That I needed a man to take care of me and that I wasn’t able to do it on my own. Because of this I stuck myself in one bad relationship after another.
Today I know that this was just a misconception that I had from watching family members who married multiple times and from watching TV—but it caused me a lot of problems along the way. Men were supposed to save the women and give them their happily-ever-after-ending, but that was just make-believe.
It’s not that men are bad, or that I don’t want a relationship. But it’s just that when you feel like you need someone so badly that you can’t even stand on your own two feet without them, love can feel like a financial transaction or something you are just doing to feel good about yourself or to get through the day, instead of being a choice made freely. People start using each other. Women start using men for money and protection. Men start using women for their bodies. (Or sometimes the other way around, too.)
Which brings me to another message that Disney sends my daughter: that if you aren’t beautiful enough, no man will love you. I do not like how Disney portrays women’s bodies: big chests, tiny waists, and hefty backsides. No one really looks that way. The only full-figured lady is Ursula. Why can’t there be a happy medium?
I want my daughter to know that her inner beauty matters more than her outer beauty. That she doesn’t need a man to take care of her. That she can wait until she finds the right man and doesn’t have to lower her standards just to be in a relationship. I don’t want my daughter to think the same way I did.
Thankfully her favorite movies are Frozen and Brave, movies in which the female characters show that they don’t always need a man to save them or to define their self-worth. Instead, they teach young girls that they can do anything that they set their mind to no matter what their home life is like.