Monday, May 12, 2014

Princess Power

By Evelyn David

I'd love to know the genius at Disney who one day turned and said, "Hey, let's market the young heroines of our movies. We'll call them all Princesses, whether or not they have any royal pedigree. Little girls will go crazy for them. No need to actually see any of the films. Kids will demand the dolls, the accessories, and of course the CDs so they can play the songs on endless loops. We'll sell the costumes for each princess so that not only on Halloween, but year-round, Belle, Ariel, Sophia, Jasmine, and now Elsa and Anna, can run wild in the playground." I assume that whoever came up with this concept won Employee of the Year since he or she made Disney a boatload of money.

Adorable granddaughters will be visiting in a couple of weeks. The oldest will turn four in June so we are in the midst of serious Princess-dom. She has seen three Disney films.

Cinderella, but the family rule is to skip the first part where the Dad dies, the Mom being long gone (standard Disney procedure to get rid of the parents early). The evil Stepmother and Stepsisters are referred to as "mean girls."

The Little Mermaid which prompted no questions about the physiology of mermaids or the accent of the crab. I might point out that the only crabs I've ever known have come from the Chesapeake Bay and would speak with a Bawl-mer drawl.

Frozen which despite the fact that she knows all the songs, will sing Let It Go at the top of her lungs with very little prompting, she found the actual storyline a little confusing. Having seen it myself, me too.

I've read and even support many of the objections to the Princess Culture. Marriage is usually for political purposes (Jasmine) or to rescue you from poverty (Cinderella). None of the girls, save Belle, are interested in education or books. Heck, it's okay to abandon your loving family and change your physical appearance in order to get your man (Ariel). Love is usually at first sight and there's no need to actually get to know your intended. No long engagements and certainly no living together either. And of course, there is the crass commercialism of the whole enterprise.

So why am I, proud, unapologetic feminist, buying my granddaughter a Belle dress for her birthday?

Because indulging that fantasy is no worse than my three sons playing Star Wars 24/7 when they were growing up. None of them opted to become Jedi Knights. If we're talking commercialism, I personally could have built the Death Star with the amount of money I had invested in Star Wars toys.

And then I remember my daughter, age 3, playing with Barbie and Ken. I'm not sure why, but she had created a story about class elections. She announced that Barbie was running for Secretary, although seriously, I don't know that she knew what the class secretary did. I immediately jumped in and said that "Barbie can be the President. Barbie can be whatever she wants to be." My daughter, even at that age had a remarkably developed ability to roll her eyes at her Mom's grand pronouncements, said quite patiently, "But Barbie wants to be Secretary. She doesn't want to be President." Maybe in her mind, Barbie got a new laptop computer if she became Secretary of the class.

But the point is that my daughter didn't grow up to be Barbie in any of her incarnations. And I don't think my granddaughters will opt for Princess-dom as their career choice either.

What I do know is that it's okay to let little girls play princess, while also making sure that they get other messages of female empowerment too. So yes, I'm buying a Belle dress, but I'm also offering a box of Magna-Tiles, with which to build incredible creations. Maybe even a castle.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

Leaving Lottawatah

Leaving Lottawatah by Evelyn David is the eleventh book in the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series. A novella-length story, Leaving Lottawatah continues the spooky, yet funny saga of reluctant psychic Brianna Sullivan who planned to travel the country in her motor home looking for adventure, but unexpectedly ended up in a small town in Oklahoma.

Things are messy in Paradise. The happily engaged couple of Brianna Sullivan and Cooper Jackson are anything but. Angry words set Brianna and Leon, her bulldog companion, off on a road trip, but it's hard to run away from home if everyone wants to come with you. Before she can leave town, Brianna is unexpectedly joined on her travels by Sassy Jackson, her maybe ex-future mother-in-law, plus Beverly Heyman and daughter Sophia, both still grieving over a death in the family. Destination: A Psychic convention in America's most haunted hotel. But they haven't reached their destination before Brianna is confronted by two ghosts demanding help in capturing the serial killer who murdered them decades earlier. Even more worrisome, another young woman has gone missing. It's up to Brianna and her road crew to stop the serial killer from striking again. Brianna has hard questions for the spirits surrounding her, and for herself. Does she want to marry Cooper? Is it time to hit the open road again and leave Lottawatah behind? Or will the ghosts of her past continue to haunt her wherever she goes?


Trade Paperback

Reminder - A HAUNTING IN LOTTAWATAH, the fifth book in the Brianna Sullivan series, is now available as an audiobook. Once again narrated by the fantastic Wendy Tremont King, A HAUNTING IN LOTTAWATAH proves that ghost hunting can be deadly.


  1. I have one granddaughter, age almost four, who loves to dress up and is attracted to shiny things and stuffed toys, Hello Kitty and...of course...all Disney princesses. She's a very girly little girl but since her high-energy brother is two years older, she also conends with him. And she holds her own. She will be okay in life, I reckon.
    As a feminist I've made myself get used to her choices, the only one I detest is this whole PRINCESS thing. I confess to having given her pink sheets with Disney girls all over them but draw the line FIRMLY at any pink clothes that say PRINCESS all over them. That I will not do, and I'm delighted to report that my son and my DIL don't buy her clothes like that either.
    I read a wonderful essay online some months back that tracked the rise of princess-ness in retail. There were four strands to the phenomenon. and if I can find that article, I will post it here.
    Thanks for writing about this, Marian!

  2. I'm with you Kay, no clothes that say Princess :-) What we want for our granddaughters is to learn that there are no limits to their dreams. I've seen mine play Snow White -- but she's also pretended to be a doctor, rock star, and a chef. It's fun to see her explore the world around her. Thanks, Marian