Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the suspense is killing me

It's T&T (trick-or-treat) minus 24 hours, and Iris has yet to settle on her Halloween costume. Last year's lobster get-up still fits, but the girl is too grown up to impersonate a crustacean this year. Instead, the contenders are:

1. The Greek goddess Iris. The allure of this choice is obvious, with the additional benefit that I made a costume way back in March for her birthday party. She wore it all of about 10 minutes that day, so maybe it will actually get some mileage now. Yes, it is a little light for 50 degree evenings, but I'm sure it is absolutely authentic to wear a turtleneck and tights underneath to keep warm.

2. A princess, wearing one of the gowns from the royal dress-up trunk that a well-intentioned family friend gifted her, and which I hate with a passion. More on that momentarily. The dresses have been worn so often for dress-up play that they have a somewhat tattered, Cinderella-before-the-ball aspect to them.

3. Madeline. In an effort to distract her from the whole princess schtick, I have been pushing fictional females with more spunk and, well, literary merit. Iris is pretty into the Madeline costume idea. The only problem is that inspiration struck only a couple days ago, followed by a sinking feeling, which proved to be correct, that I had given away the French blue corduroy coat that would have been perfect to cannibalize for a Madeline costume. So, this is on its way, and we'll see if it arrives in time.

Thus does my aversion to fairy tale princesses trump my commitment to homemade Halloween costumes. Where, exactly, is the line between gentle parental guidance and out-and-out control-freakishness?

As a feminist from the Free To Be You and Me generation, I think I need some serious counseling on how to deal with a daughter who's fallen for the whole Disnified princess scenario hook, line, and glass slipper. Maybe it would be easier if I had had the princess bug myself as a child, but I never did, so I can't relate. For now, I cope by imposing arbitrary rules on when and where the accursed princess gowns may be worn (because if I didn't, she would wear them all the time, everywhere), resisting pleas to watch the Disney princess movies at home (not just because, well, over my dead body, but because I actually fear parts of them will be too scary at her age), and casting a revisionist spin on the stories we read ("You know why I think the prince fell in love with Cinderella? Because she was such a good person! She was so nice to everyone, even though her stepmother and stepsisters were mean to her.") I think I am probably (definitely) making way too big a deal out of the whole thing, but I am surprised by the strength of my feelings about this.

Oh, and one more coping tactic: read this. Pure genius.


Blogger Rouxhauser said...

We have worked hard to steer our daughter away from Disney princess stories. It is not easy, especially with relatives who don't get it or care. For every Disney princess she would start to show interest in, we would counter with a stack of books from the library of similar stories from other countries or the "original" stories. Even at 7, Lizzie will often choose Disney books to bring home from school. When I started to complain to my husband he pointed out that I occasionally read "chick lit", it is just her equivalent. Touche! All the same, I hope the good mail juju continues and you get the costume in time.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous erin said...

Neither one of my kids was ever into the whole princess thing. They did dabble - and I let them. I figured that the bigger deal we made of it, the bigger deal it would be. It worked out pretty well for us. We never wore any licensed character clothes (of anything - not just princesses) and I never bought them Disney dress-up clothes, although they did receive them as gifts. They wore the dresses just as much as they wore the lion costume and the dinosaur costume. We also own all the movies and they've seen them. They really aren't their favorites, though. They much prefer the Pixar films and things with humor. I guess my point is that it is likely a phase and will be over before you know it.

All that said, I did buy Jane a Madeline doll house at age 4. And we have many books with strong, plucky girls who get by on their brains. Hope your costume makes it!

8:49 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

I feel the same way you do about the Disney Princess characters. I try to keep all the products out of our home. Luckily, my daughter is not so drawn to them, though she has friends who are obsessed with the whole princess thing.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous amy h said...

Elise is in a "Cinderella" phase right now. My mom let her watch it and now it is all she wants.

If it makes you feel any better, I was a total princess-y child, and grew up to be quite a feminist. I also had a healthy dose of the "Free to be You and Me" in there, too. I just try not to make too big a deal about it with Elise, and we don't buy the paraphernalia.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Laura is really into the princess thing too. Gary swore up and down that he'd never succumb to it, and in many ways we haven't: we haven't bought anything princess-related, for example. But she calls her Fisher-Price farm animals "princesses", she puts a napkin on her head and says it's a crown, and stuff like that. We just roll with it.

But the Disney princesses aren't all bad! Look here.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

I LOVED princess stuff when i was little (but they didn't have the MERCHANDISE back then). I get how that would be hard to take if you didn't, though. My daughter is the ultimate princess, and loves her dress up clothes. My mom has made her sleeping beauty, cinderella, and mulan costumes. They're just beautiful, though, esp. without the pictures of themselves on the costume (How annoying is that with the store-bought ones? If you can't tell who it is without a picture, it can't be a very good costume!).

Now that my daughter is older, she plays more medieval, made-up princesses instead of Disney ones.

Anyway, I kind of like what Erin said about not letting them dabble and not making it a big deal. Iris is on a good path, she loves myths and other stories as well. Don't let it get to you - just expose her to lots of stuff.

2:07 PM  
Blogger ironica99 said...

Clearly Iris needs to see a lot more of Auntie Ronica and Auntie Aim. And Ronica needs to get her in her Palumalu jersey playing football. And climbing trees. And other things you can't do in a princess dress. I love the play (although I have to wait until after work to finish reading it). Maybe we can make up a powerful princess? Or teach her about a real one, like the Iceni Bodiccea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica) or other warrior women (http://www.lothene.demon.co.uk/others/womenrom.html).

5:12 PM  
Anonymous kelley said...

I've always ended fairy tales/princess stories with "...and then she went to college and traveled around the world."

Apparently this is paying off - last year when Emma was in kindergarten - a ring was the example for the letter R - the boy she was working with said, "oh, like a wedding ring."

Emma, "I'm never getting married, I want to be wild and free and travel the world and take care of animals."

the little boy stared at her with his mouth open and finally said, "well I'm getting married and staying right here."

But then again she also wants to be a princess with wings and is proud of having the best front kick in her karate class. The princess propaganda is insidious, but as long as girls see, learn and experience more than that, I think they'll be okay. After we're their mothers!

10:40 PM  

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