Fairytale Endings: Movies Are Programming My Daughter
My 4-year-old daughter grabbed my cheeks and put her face up to mine. I was about to give her a quick kiss when she ordered:” NO mom. You turn your head that way.” Her hands were still on my cheeks. Shocked, I sat there wide-eyed as she planted a VERY long kiss on my lips. Finally she pulled away and giggled: “You’re the princess, I’m the prince and since we kissed, we live happily ever after.” And she skipped out of the room.
It was just child’s play, right? Princess play is supposedly normal and condoned in girls. Nonetheless, that episode six months left me feeling uneasy: Was it just imaginary play? Or were beliefs being instilled in my daughter about love, men, and her ultimate goal in life?
I’ve since payed way more attention to the princess-themed movies she watches. Undoubtedly, many of them contain wonderful themes around virtues such as kindness, trust, empathy and compassion. But time and time and TIME AGAIN, the stories end with a kiss…with a man…with the dream of happily ever after. As if falling in love with and marrying a man is the ‘final destination.’ And this past weekend, as my daughter and I watched the fairytale ending of the movie, Enchanted, I looked over at her – and felt sick to my stomach. Her eyes were all glassed over. She was glowing. And I thought, “Jesus, she’s really believing in all this!”
Perhaps you think I’m overreacting or I’m insinuating my skepticism in true love onto her because I’ve divorced. And on some level, both statements might be true. But part of my journey thus far this year has been to take a hard look at what ‘love’ means to me, where those beliefs came from, and whether they’ve truly served me or kept my head in the clouds.
Realistically, if an impressionable child repeatedly receives the same message about anything, she will start to believe it. Or at least, identify it as something ‘important.’ Her tenderly young subconscious mind is wide open for programming, and feelings and experiences stick.
So I’ve decided to curtail the number of princess movies she watches. Same with the princess books I read to her. And just as I already tell my daughter EVERY DAY how incredible women’s body’s are, how lucky we are to have vaginas, and how our brains and hearts are just as important as our bodies, I’m getting real about ‘fairytale endings’ too. It’s not that I don’t want her to believe in love – I would never deny her that. But I told her just this morning, “You know honey, some people never even get married…” And yesterday I said, “Love is a wonderful thing for two people to share. But it doesn’t mean they’ll stay together forever and life will be perfect.”
Am I popping her bubble? Destroying the bounty of a child’s heart-felt dreams? I don’t think so. I think it’s called reality. And I’d rather be the one who deflates her bubble than a man.