Shockingly, when I was growing up I was a huge Disney princess lover. Just as thehouseofadoll described in New Perspectives on Disney a couple of weeks ago, Disney is and always will be a huge fan favorite. Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Snow White, Mulan…these were all pretty common household names when I was growing up. In fact, Disney’s princess movies were my main go to for a pick me up – even as I got older. There was something soothing about the formula of pretty female, swept off of her feet and living happily ever after with the man that solves all of her problems.
Then I grew up, woke up, and realized how ridiculous that formula truly was. No woman needs a man who sweeps her off of her feet and whisks her away, as I now know.
In fact, many of the men in these movies are downright horrible, or at least their actions are. In today’s world, if I woke up to a man I had only met once kissing me, I would probably wonder briefly how he got into my house, and then promptly raise A LOT of hell. If I had a giant furry dude scream at me and break a bunch of shit because I had infiltrated his man cave, I would probably get a restraining order and never look back. If I had to cook and clean for seven small men day in and day out, and pretend that I genuinely liked it, I would WANT an evil witch to kill me.
All of that is coming from an extremely cynical, jaded person, however. I might be able to see how problematic these movies are now…but young girls just see pretty ladies being rescued by handsome men, and imagine that someday, some handsome man will come and rescue them too.
That is why I got really excited when I saw this article on Jezebel. Mercy Academy, an all-girl prep school in Louisville, Kentucky, is pushing an ad campaign that has nothing to do with princes, and everything to do with female empowerment – and they are Catholic, no less! I was once a Catholic myself, and didn’t agree with…well anything, really, about Catholicism. I don’t know very much about Catholic prep schools, since I have never attended one, but I would assume that they teach Catholic (which could translate to patriarchal) values. So the fact that a Catholic girl’s school isn’t just prepping women for an MRS. degree is, frankly, extremely exciting for me.
What is cool about these ads is that they tell women that they ARE NOT princesses. They are not necessarily going to be rescued by some man…”Be able to rescue yourself”. How awesome is that?! Mercy Academy wants women to understand that they can be more than just a pretty face, or a prince’s princess. They can be their own people, empowered and ready to run their own lives, without (un)necessary requirements of rescuing and “true love’s kiss”.
I get so frustrated when women say things like: “Well, I’m just gonna get married anyway, so I won’t have to worry about getting a job” or even, quite literally, “I’m just here [in college] to find a husband anyway”. I understand that there are different lifestyles…but ladies, please! Were all of the awesome feminists who came before us just fighting for you all to get a college degree and immediately feed right back into the Patriarchy? Hell no!
So watch those Disney princess movies if you need a throwback night with the girls…but understand that “Life’s not a fairytale”, “You’re not a princess”, and that you don’t have to wait for a prince to make your dreams come true. You can do that all on your own!