A Princess Like Me?
Disney has a new princess! They are retelling the story of the “Princess and the Frog” and I think I can relate… er… somewhat.
I know you must be wondering why a middle aged matron is getting all excited about a new cartoon release. First of all, I thoroughly enjoy modern animated films. The computer generated graphics, fanciful plots, and comic foils make for an enchanting experience. Secondly, as a member of a minority, I grew up in a time when there weren’t many mainstream dolls, games, or leading movie characters depicting people who look like me.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about or just don’t give a hoot, that’s OK. I’m just saying that I’m happy and I know a lot of little girls just like I used to be, will be happy too. It’s human nature to want to emulate those we admire. You know it’s true. That’s why Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana merchandise is flying off store shelves.
There is a certain amount of validation that occurs when we can relate to a popular icon. Is this pop culture phenomenon necessary? No. But it feels good when it happens. In fact, many would argue that it sends a negative message when a particular group is routinely excluded.
Please understand that Walt Disney Studios is NOT where I look for social validation; however, I do appreciate the nod in our direction. Although it’s several decades late, it’s now a lot easier for me to imagine myself as a princess in my very own “Once Upon a Time/Happily Ever After”. When your hair naturally grows in a short afro and all the “beautiful princesses” have long straight flowing hair, you start to wonder. When all the compliments for beauty are about fair alabaster skin, you are hesitant to ask “mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” , because by default, it can’t be you. No offense Snow White, you know we love you.
By the way, I think you should give up apples. Try pomegranates or acai berries – more anti oxidants.
“The Princess and the Frog” featuring African American Princess Tiana is stirring up quite a bit of controversy. Some characters are accused of being ethnically insensitive or stereotypical, but I can’t speak to that since I haven’t seen the film. Another source of controversy springs from the fact that the resident prince charming is of ambiguous ethnicity. Prince Naveen is not African American like Princess Tiana. He is voiced by a Hispanic actor and has an East Indian name. I guess I have to sit out this debate too, inasmuch as I’m married to a “Srinivasan”. Must this diversity issue be so complicated?
Despite all of the bumps in the road, I think we are on the right path to a color blind society. We need to have a sense of humor about ourselves and lighten up a bit. If something is wrong, call it wrong. But a little bit of a thick skin has to be developed also.
When all is said and done, I just hope it’s a good movie. After all, that’s what really counts – not whether the princess is magenta, aquamarine, or tangerine in color. I won’t pass any judgements or make any complaints about the movie without actually seeing it. Until them, I’m going to enjoy my new “I can look like a princess too” status.
Were there any iconic figures that you looked up to when you were growing up?