Princess Culture vs. Female Role Models
Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here! Do you remember those days back in elementary school when you got to dress up like an influential or historic figure and do a report on your person of choice? It was like the second-coming of Halloween, only they were tricking you into doing school work for no pay (candy)! Today I would like to introduce you to the my hero and role model from when I was growing up, the incredible Jane Goodall. I still remember strapping a plush money onto my arm and gearing up in my very best safari outfit to talk about this conservationist and chimpanzee expert. At the time, my dream was to grow up and be some sort of naturalist, to travel the world studying animals, just like Jane. At the time it didn’t matter to me what Jane looked like, she could have been bald, with a missing eye and no teeth and it wouldn’t have made one bit of difference to me – her actions and accomplishments were all that mattered in my eyes.
Recently I came across the works of artist David Trumble, illustrating influential women who have been put through a complete princessification, including “Jungle Princess” Jane. It had been a long time since I had last thought of Miss Goodall and I was surprised by this busty, glittery counterpart to my childhood idol. Thankfully these drawings are all a satirical statement by the artist to argue that influential woman and role modes can not/should not be fit into the princess mould. However, in a society where infotainment rules, and the lines between sexy and relevancy are blurred, I almost expected these characters to be part of some new toy series straight from the pages of a Toys R’ Us catalogue.
This got me thinking back to those day when both Disney’s Cinderella and Jane Goodall were simultaneously powerful inspirations to my childhood dreams. Jane never had to have a mini waist or long legs to impress me though, she was a straight up boss all on her own – regardless of flaws, wrinkles, or grey hair. Somewhere along the way that message has been lost though. Toys and media today seem to scream that big boobs, princess pink, and glamourous gowns are the only ways to capture the attention of today’s young ladies. Growing up all my mom wanted was a set of Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, yet woman were expected to be homemakers and secretaries. Today women are told they can be engineers and CEOs, yet the toy shelves are lined with dolls laced up in corsets, complete with 6-inch pumps.
While women’s influence and power grows, it seems the dolls and toys of the future have taken a step backwards. These dolls look like the beginnings of some sex scene in a period drama on cable, not a toy for an 8 year old. Little girls don’t need their role models to look like Megan Fox for them to be relevant, inspiring, and heroic. Women like Jane Goodall, Rosa Parks, and Gloria Steinem continue to serve as heroes to young women in today’s landscape so why reinvent the wheel? Progress is good, but I digress in this case. Why disempower the potential for the creation of new female role models by forcing them into the princess standard where appearance is equated to power?
Until next time stay terribly beautiful.