I've seen a lot of Facebook and Blog posts about "here's some real women to look up to" or "how Disney is misleading our daughters."
Certainly, some of Walt's earlier 1940s and 50s work may have missed the mark on modern women (but to be fair, the modern woman didn't exist yet) I don't think the Princesses that I've grown up with have led me down a path to being a damsel in distress.
Yes, their hair is amazing.
Yes, they're beautiful.
Yes, they talk to animals.
Most protagonists fit that bill in literature.
Maybe not the animal part, but protagonists are heroes for a reason.
And while beauty is not always an eminent factor in someone being "good," I cannot ignore the fact that our culture likes beauty. EVERY culture does. Animals have bright colors to attract a mate, some are attracted to the beauty in the eyes. To ignore this is unrealistic.
Certainly, some pressures are unnecessarily applied, but that's another conversation.
And yes, I may not shower or "dress up" 4 of the 7 days in a week, but I can not care what other think while still caring about myself and having a little self-respect.
But I digress.
The modern princess isn't something to shame our daughter away from.
These young women are smart, strong, witty. There may be a man in the story, but that dude isn't the lead character. He's not the end game, just a point along the journey. Maybe even the catalyst to realizing something needs to change, but chances are, you Mommy Dearest, have your own prince in your life too. It's not a bad thing to want a partner that you can have with you to face life's challenges.
Look at Belle. Book-smart, loyal to her family and didn't want to be a little housewife. She loved a Beast who no one could love. And she was actually the one who did the rescuing. Even Ariel wanted something more than her life was destined to be. She wasn't happy with the way things just are. She explored, pushed boundaries, disobeyed her father (this I can agree to disagree with!) but she wasn't ready to settle. And she also did some of her own Prince rescuing of her own.
Mulan wasn't willing to accept the fact that she had to do certain things because she was a girl. She fought as a solider and saved an entire nation - forget the prince business. Tiana or Merida weren't trying to be girly-girls either. You can admire Julia Child and Katniss for their balls - these cartoons have the same guff. They all wanted to play with the boys, and did better than the boys when they did.
I will admit, Rupunzel may have been the most naive of the modern princesses - who can blame her with a sheltered life. Perhaps her tale isn't for our girls, but for us as parents. We should let our kids roll around in the grass and get dirty, go outside and play in the yard without being on a leash. We don't need to fret a few skinned knees. Hell, our parents grew up without seat belts in cars, I think our kids, even in today's world are going to end up OK.
When I was 7 or 8, I flew down a hill on my bike, flipped over the handlebars and ended up with gaping gash on my left knee, bloody and filled with gravel. I still have a scar. Maybe I shouldn't have gone down that hill. Maybe I shouldn't have been going so fast. Did it hurt? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. Did I learn that I shouldn't go that fast, that I'll bounce back, that my life won't end with one bike-enduced wipe-out? Absolutely.
Did I survive? Yes.
These princesses wear dresses and break out into song. There's always some insurmountable obstacle to overcome at the last moment. Certain dramatic licensing is always taken in storytelling. If your kids know that birds aren't really going to come and clean the house, I don't think you need to worry about them pining for a prince on a white horse. Worry more about romantic comedies - those screwed up my teens and early twenties more than Disney ever could!
Look a little deeper and don't judge their tales too superficially. I was once a mom, who, five years ago, was determined that my daughter wouldn't be that girl all in pink. Good luck with that. But I also have a daughter who likes to learn, and play, and love and has no interest in slowing down. Even if she's wearing pink. Focus on the good of these tales and young women rather than the nitty, picky things you don't. Chances are, you'll have a little one who will idolize a princess - make sure they're doing it for the right reason.