This morning I had the chance to babysit my sister for a few hours, and because of the weather outside and the fact that it was early in the morning, we decided to watch a movie on Netflix. I had spent a few minutes perusing the options under the Children and Families tab, and had come up with a few that I thought sounded appealing for her. It wasn’t until we were looking at them together that I realized all the options involved princesses. Unsurprisingly, my sister chose a movie with, you guessed it, princesses.
While we were watching, my sister made comments about the princess’s beautiful dress and crown. “You know,” I said, trying to sound casual, “she would be pretty even without the pretty dress.” My sister ignored me in favor of the mermaid on screen. As a kid, I was really into playing with dollhouses and Barbies and all sorts of imaginative games. As an adult, I’ve prided myself on being a strong, independent woman. How are grown-ups supposed to reconcile the lessons they’ve learned growing up with the fantasy world of children, a world that is often full of sexism and unrealistic scenarios?
I’m still not sure. At the end of the movie, when the prince saved the princess with true love’s first kiss, I kept my mouth shut. What I wanted to say was “you know, love is great and all but getting kissed by a boy doesn’t make the world perfect,” but I didn’t. How do you allow kids to enjoy childhood fantasies while still preparing them for the real world?