Saturday, July 19, 2014

Notes from The Princess Invasion

Having just been (very) rudely awakened by a toddler, I'm lying here all sleepy but not quite sleepy enough to go back to sleep apparently.  And so, it seems, I am finally breaking my long pause in blog posting.  I don't think I'll bother writing about not posting right now---that kind of post is something I feel is generally not too interesting to read, and besides I don't have any particularly interesting reason that posting has not been happening.

Instead, I think that I will tell you about our Princess Invasion.

It was, I think, a fairly inevitable thing.  Harriet has just turned two years old (her party is today), and despite our failure to expose her willfully to lots of Disney stuff, it's out there and it comes for little girls.  Nothing, I know, is new in what I'm saying.  My sister-in-law shared a book called "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" a while back, about the ubiquity of princesses and pink in the mass culture that we live in.  It's out there, it's going to come for them, especially through peers and daycare, where even the most controlling parent cannot isolate, and all we get to do is choose which ways we will and won't react, and try to navigate through as best we can.

Still, I think it was an ugly surprise when it appeared so suddenly.  My wife told me of the moment just two days ago: she'd been putting Harriet in the car in the morning to go to daycare, and our little two-year-old did not want to be buckled in.  Not being an area where compromise can happen, a struggle ensued, and after our little small one's inevitable loss, she registered her final protest: "No! I am a PRINCESS!"  Command, and dignity.  The penetrating hauteur of one who knows that she must be obeyed.  We're trying not to laugh too hard.

That night, we took her out to a toy store to get a bicycle/tricycle, so that she could pick her own out.  We like to give her choice and options when we can, and just try not to wince too much at what she picks.  We now have a lovely lavender tricycle in the house with pictures of a girl doctor who invites us to help her solve mysteries when Harriet pushes buttons.  But also, we found this:



In case you can't quite tell, this is a bright pink toddler chair with a heart-shaped back, covered with Disney princesses.  I didn't even recognize them all any more---having just looked them up, I can tell you that the black princess on the arm is apparently Tiana, from a retelling of the frog prince, and the left-hand blond on the heart is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  Front and center, of course, is Cinderella, and we also have Ariel, who radically alters her body in pursuit of her prince, Belle, the role model for abusive relationships, and Snow White, the Disney ur-Princess.

The moment she saw this chair, Harriet hopped off her bike and beelined for it, picking it out of all the other options.  No, it didn't come home with us.  But as long as we were in the store, our little princess could have her pink chair time and celebrate her royal company, and so she did with great delight as you can see, and great velocity and vibration, which doesn't come through as well in still shots.

I am an American with a daughter.  We're just going to have to deal with this.  And so far, at least, it's not all one way on the gender coding, which I think is also a good sign.  Yes, she's wearing Batman shoes.  She likes those too, and they aren't pink.

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