Tinker Bell: The Rejected Princess

Once considered for a position among the Disney Princesses, execs decided that Tinker Bell didn’t fit “the Princess mythologyTinker Bell and instead created a Disney Consumer Products franchise just for our pretty pixie – the Disney Fairies

Like the Princesses, the Fairies have lots of merchandise.  And since the only Fairy you are likely to know is Tink, many of the products introduce you to the other fairies.  There are picture books, chapter books, magazines, comics, dolls, story cards, activity DVDs, and an upcoming feature film starring Brittany Murphy as the voice of Tinker Bell.

Brittany MurphyThe Fairies are aimed to catch young girls just as they outgrow the Princess phase. Orenstein writes in “What’s Wrong with Cinderella?” “Aimed at 6- to 9-year-old girls, the line will catch them just as they outgrow Princess. Their colors will be lavender, green, turquoise — anything but the Princess’s soon-to-be-babyish pink.”  Orenstein describes the Fairy line in terms of Tink’s revenge narrative: Continue reading

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Filed under Brittany Murphy, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Fairies, Disney Princesses, Merchandising Changes, Peggy Orenstein, Peter Pan, Princess mythology, Tinkerbell, Walt Disney

A Princess Plays at Power

“Daddy, I’m a Princess!”

“Can I be a Princess, too?”

“No.”

“Then what can I be?”

“Hmmm…

             You can be…

                              my Royal Servant.”

 This more or less captures an anecdote a professor told me about a conversation he had with his daughter.  I think it addresses issues previously discussed on this site about what little girls play when they play “Princesses.”  Contrary to the popular belief that they play at being feminine and dependent, this story suggests that they play at having power and being in charge.

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What Makes a Princess?

There are 8 Princesses united under the “Disney Princess” banner: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine,Pocahontas Pocahontas, and Mulan… but why?  Pocahontas is not technically royalty, though one might argue she is the equivalent among Native Americans as the chief’s daughter.  Mulan, however, is not a princess though she ends up with a general at the conclusion of the movie. 

Other legitimately royal Disney females (either by marriage or birth) are excluded from the line-up: Continue reading

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Filed under A Bug's Life, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Ariel, Atlantis, Bambi, Belle, Cinderella, Disney Consumer Products, Disney on Ice, Disney Princesses, Esmerelda, Faline, Hercules, If You Can Dream, Jane (Tarzan), Jasmine, Lady and the Tramp, Maid Marian, Megara, Merchandising Changes, Mulan, Nala, Peter Pan, Pocahontas, Princess Fiona, Princess mythology, Princess Tiana, Rapunzel, Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, The Princess and the Frog, Tinkerbell

“If You Can Dream”

The whole cast of Disney Princesses get together to sing “If You Can Dream,” a song written and recorded specifically for the Disney Princess franchise.  Walt Disney’s famous line, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” takes on a new meaning from the Princess perspective…

For Walt, the dream was about ambition and innovation.  For Walt’s Princesses, Continue reading

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Filed under Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Disney Princesses, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, Princess Pop Culture, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the dream, Walt Disney

So Which Came First, the Princess or the Product?

Resolution: And does it matter?

There is lots of evidence (see The Princess Makes the Product) that suggests young children actively seek gender differentiation and will even Disney Princess Bedroomcreate differences where there are none in their quest for a gender identity.  But this predisposition to Princess play does not make it an inevitability; Disney marketers have exploited children’s natural tendency to engage in imaginary role-play. 

I agree with author and professor Lyn Mikel Brown when she says in Orenstein’s New York Times article, “Playing princess is not the issue … The issue is 25,000 Princess products…  When one thing is so dominant, then it’s no longer a choice: it’s a mandate, cannibalizing all other forms of play. There’s the illusion of more choices out there for girls, but if you look around, you’ll see their choices are steadily narrowing.”  Imaginary play, even gendered, can have variety.  The lack of choice in consumer products for young girls is unsettling.  Almost everything is pink and frilly.  Maybe it’s true that young girls don’t want so much variety and they want all little girls to be the same so they fit in.  But do we think that what is available now is best for them and their development?  Continue reading

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Filed under Ariel, Child Development, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Princesses, Gender Differences, Peggy Orenstein, Princess Pop Culture, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White

Photos of Princess Wedding Gowns Are Here!

ArielThe much anticipated photos of Kirstie Kelly’s line of Disney Princess wedding gowns were finally released by Disney Consumer Products this week.

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Filed under Adult Princesses, Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Princesses, Disney Weddings, Jasmine, Kristie Kelly, Princess Pop Culture, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White

The Product Makes the Princess

Disney Princess merchandiseAntithesis: The Product makes the Princess.  Disney’s flooding of the market with Princess products leaves practically no choice for young girls.  From this article (Orenstein, NY Times): “The issue is 25,000 Princess products,” says Brown, a professor of education and human development at Colby College. “When one thing is so dominant, then it’s no longer a choice: it’s a mandate, cannibalizing all other forms of play. There’s the illusion of more choices out there for girls, but if you look around, Continue reading

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Filed under Child Development, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Princesses, Mulan, Peggy Orenstein, Pocahontas, Princess Pop Culture