Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Princess Wars - Zonta vs Disney

I don't know any real Princesses - either by birth or marriage.

I don't have any women in my circle of aquaintences whom desire to live a princessy lifestyle. Except my sister - but that's another story.

But at Disney the Princess franchise is one of its most successful money spinners - these chicks reign supreme. I am simply unable to tell you how much Disney Princess stuff there is in this world and how much more just keeps getting churned out. I don't really care for the princesses - I find them irksome and insipid. They just don't engage my attention.

Although these princesses are a bit more interesting

Your average Zontian is running an business and providing jobs or working on government policies that improve the way we live AND they are all doing vast amounts of volunteer community service - often through several outlets. Zontians provide a wide variety of female role models in our community. But the princesses - well they just wear big poofy frocks and do stage shows at 11, 3 and 5:30pm. Even Barbie has multiple careers. That bit of molded plastic has done everything!

I am pretty amivalent about the princesses. There are heaps of blogs that have already trashed them. Too many to leave links. There are plenty who argue how these chicks are strong and brave, loving, confident and work hard to realise their dreams. (Hmmm - except Sleeping Beauty - she kinda slept through the whole thing). And many mothers say it's just a phase their daughter grows out of and eventually reality bites.

Though some kids never buy the marketing

"Why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff!" Yeah!

I have the same ambivalence about Minnie Mouse. I can't quite work out what is her purpose. Yes - she's a foil for Mickey. For the first few cartoons Mickey had to win her affections, competing with Black Pete. Then she spent a bunch of time being in peril and Mickey having to rescue her. She never really is developed as a character in her own right, other than as Mickey's girlfriend.

Then last week Disney Parks Blog posted this about the release of new t-shirt designs.

Source : disneyparksblog.com
Sure they are cute enough - the characters made up of words that "describe their personalities". This would be fine except the Minnie t-shirt describes her PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES.

Mickey is a leader, clever, awesome, genuine, original, curious - and Minnie, lucky Minnie is cute, gorgeous, lovable, adorable, pretty, beautiful and hot. Except for Goofy being 'tall', physical attributes are not used for Mickey or Donald. So why the emphasis on physical appearance for the girl of the group?

I was contemplating letting this pass but two things happened.

First, I submitted a fairly benign comment on the Disney Parks Blog saying something like: "Come on Disney" but I got moderated! So stuff them - I'll just post on my own blog - for my one reader in Poland - so there!

And last weekend the shit hit the fan over at LEGO when they released girlie dolls in mini skirts - who don't build anything!
Apparently they just go to the cafe and gossip. (Source : dailyfinance.com - yep a finance blog told me!)
In the press release for the product, LEGO Group Chief Executive Officer Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said “We want to reach the other 50 percent of the world’s children.” I am rather hoping he does not mean "girls" rather just the other 50% of boys and girls who are not purchasing LEGO bricks for some reason.

This one probably goes a bit further than the Disney Princesses and Minnie Mouse. LEGO are being accused of pushing the border on the sexualisation of young girls.

"LEGO Simone de Beauvoir is super unhappy about this development" (source: sparksummit.com)

However you would be pressed to accuse Disney of explicitly going that far. The princesses and Minnie certainly trade on their good looks but it is all kept relatively tame.  Except for Ariel in her sea shell bra; oh ...and Jasmine in her veils - but they still own big poofy gowns to change into when they get cold.

Oh ...except for Jasmine again - sucked in chick! still bearing that midriff (source: thecartoonpictures.com)

Perhaps I could be more radical feminist and rail against the machine! I like to think that in a small way I am finding my way to encourage others to think more about how buying or not buying a simple t-shirt can send a message to the multinationals. And perhaps sharing a few ideas in an easy palatable way will get more women and girls reflecting on their own perspective.

But I'll still go to Orlando and ride the rides.

Now excuse me whilst I go drink my milk, before I tidal wave a local village



  1. Oh, Leanne... By mutual agreement I acquired a Minnie Mouse ears hat when we went to Epcot in December. So far in public I have worn it while running around Balmain on an orienteering course, and wearing my orienteering club shirt at the same time. Minnie as sportsperson.