Monday, February 14, 2011

Pink Princess Palooza

Because there's enough talk about Valentine's going on everywhere else but we should probably say something. Here's something.

Do you know where the word "pink" comes from? I did not. however wrote a post about the history of the word: Pink. I found it very interesting that pink started out as a verb, and it meant to create small cuts or perforations. Think pinking shears. I always wondered why they were called that because mine are black, not pink. It's also the same shape on the edge of carnations and other flowers of that family, which the word is also associated with. And from that it started to mean the color of the flower as well as perfection, because it is such the perfect flower (despite the line in The Wedding Planner - "I love you but if you use another carnation in my bouquet I *will* deport you, mk? Muah.") And then it became a very popular color and men started wearing pink hose (which HP can't get his head around and is very glad that's no longer the fashion).

The most interesting part to me though was that prior to WWII, baby boys wore pink and baby girls wore pale blue. Interesting, because our culture has done such a 180 on that that small girls are almost coated in Pepto pink from the moment they are expected, before they are born even. Pink, and princesses.

A week and a half ago NPR ran a story about the invasion of pink princesses that I found real interesting - Saving Our Daughters from an Army of Princesses. It is an interview with Peggy Orenstein, the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter. And it is definitely something to think about. What kind of effect does shoving pink princesses down young girls' throats have on their expectations for real life?

Pink has never been my favorite color. I did have a pair of pink overalls when I was three that I loved, but I loved them because they had pockets everywhere that I could put things, not because they were pink. I had a roommate in college who decided in kindergarten that her favorite color was orange because nobody was picking orange when they were talking about favorite colors. From that decision she actually grew up loving orange and had a beautiful orange autumn themed wedding as a result even. I'm not saying pink is a bad color, one of the three of us here absolutely loves it and I think that's great. But assuming a girl likes pink because she's a girl is not a good place to go.

And what of the princess mentality? I read elsewhere of the marketing genius that was Disney putting all of their princesses together in one package. You can't escape it anymore, they're everywhere. And Tinkerbell, while not an actual princess, also has her whole posse running around now too.

I'm not sure what kind of effect it will have on girls, but what if they grow up thinking that a prince is going to come rescue them only to actually grow up and realize they have to do a lot of their own rescuing? Do they realize that true love's first kiss can often come after years of relationship building and not after just a single glance? If I've ever had a fairy godmother it was my own mom and I who made those types of things happen.

The recent Disney movie Tangled had quite the character for its princess, however none of the merchandise I've seen for it show her with her brown hair after she's grown up, made sacrifices, and possibly lost it all, only with her innocent blonde locks. I think someone who has grown up, made sacrifices and possibly lost it all is a much better model then someone who's only dreamed of life and not actually lived it.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day! ;)


Anonymous said...

I don't know, I think there's something beautiful about kids believing in a fairytale version of life. The world is a hard enough place without taking away the magic of it from a child. Princesses may not be an accurate reflection of life, but is that such a bad thing?

Roxie said...

We all need to make-believe. I'm all about that. But when we start living in the fantasies and fairy tales, when we have to start talking about how real life isn't like the movies to 20-somethings who haven't been swept off their feet, we have a problem.

Perhaps a lot of it is the extreme marketing of the princess life that really rubs me wrong. Because truth be told, HP calls me Princess on occasion and I love it.

But I could go out and kill the dragon if I wanted to.