Say No to Princesses?

no-princessIs there anyone else out there who would agree with me that Cinderella, and all these other princess cartoons, should have a PG-13 rating?  That these cartoons really aren’t appropriate for younger kids? They’re all about looking pretty, and finding your prince charming – really not the kid of lessons I want to be teaching my kid.

We went to a princess birthday party this weekend. There was lots of the expected – pink, purple, sparkles, swirly dresses, tiaras. All the pretty little girls had a ball. Since then, my girl’s been in a princess mood, more so than before, if that’s even possible. So yesterday she raids her closet, and grabs all the new dresses I had stocked up for the summer. She decides she wants to try on every one of them, along with her hats, and fake jewels. Then she wants us to take photos to send to family members while she poses like a miniature princess model. No, she’s not about to enter her teenage years… She’s two.

Princesses, to little girls all over, mean pretty dresses, jewels, tiaras, castles, magic, and handsome princes. Lost are the real morals of these stories on their little minds. Appearances are emphasized – Belle’s the star of the story while the Beast is often forgotten. No kid will pay attention to a frog, even if he has a princely heart. Cinderella isn’t teaching girls not to be mean – it’s all about magic, glitzy gowns and dancing with Prince Charming.

And as adorable as our little girls may look parading around in their tutus and tiaras, later on these habits could spell trouble for daddy’s wallet.

Now I don’t want every girl out there to detest me for bashing their beloved fairy tales. I too grew up on these and enjoy the royal treatment once in a while – but once in a while is the key. The commercialization that’s taken over these characters, with an overdose of princess paraphernalia, cannot be healthy for the younger kids. As we all know, too much of anything is not good. Since this stuff is everywhere, toys, clothes, movies, tv, books, you name it, it’s difficult for parents to keep their kids away even if they want to.

It seems that Disney has received some criticism on this topic, and is trying to remedy this using their latest princess, Sophia the first. What has your experience been with Sophia – is she really teaching some valuable lessons, or is it just more glitz and glamour now aimed directly at toddlers?

I’ve been wanting to host a princess party for my little one’s 3rd birthday. But now I’m thinking I’ll hold off for a bit… maybe till she’s 13. Of course by then princesses may be a thing of the past. She may have moved on to boy bands and the like – the next Justin Bieber… YIKES!

The ‘Like’ Phenomenon

I don’t know about you, but I love the ‘Like’ button on facebook. It is so convenient. Fan of a business or product? ‘Like’ their page. Find a friend’s posted picture cute? ‘Like’ it. A colleague’s facebook status made you laugh? ‘Like’ it. Who would’ve thought one little button could be so versatile. It’s popularity is evident from the fact that it’s become a known expression now… Tell anyone to ‘like’ a picture and they’ll know you’re talking about the facebook button (well, aside from the almost extinct population that has yet to own a computer or smartphone – come on, even every grandma I know is on facebook these days). And the best part about the ‘like’ button is it eliminates the thinking factor. If I like a picture one click allows me to indicate this.I Don’t have to put into words any thoughts or feelings about the picture.  So I don’t need to think about what exactly I like about the picture. If the picture appeals to me in one glance I hit the ‘like’ button and am ready to move on to the next thing that interests me. Such a time saver!

To further convince you that I’m addicted to this button, let me tell you about how much I miss it when it’s not there. For example, on twitter – very often I’ll see a tweet that I just like. Now if I retweet it, or reply to it, I have to think about what to say about it. Sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to do that. It would be so convenient if I could just hit ‘Like’ to let the tweeter know and then move on. But since there is no ‘Like’ button I often end up leaving off the reply for later, and then of course it never happens (should mention here that I’m kind of new to twitter so may the twitter phenomenon hasn’t hit home yet). Similarly if I read a news article sometimes all I want to do is hit ‘Like.’ And happily for me many sites are now adding the ‘Like’ widgets 🙂

Now this is all well and good as long as I’m on the ‘liking’ side. But how does this affect the writer in me? and the mommy in me? It’s great if someone ‘likes’ my blog post, or my story. But it is so much more exciting when someone leaves an insightful comment. After all, a ‘like’ is hardly a conversation starter. In fact, it is more of a conversation killer. But even as a writer, I find myself taking the easy way out if I see the ‘Like’ button. So why wouldn’t others? And how much worse would it be if this phenomenon spread to other parts of our lives. Imagine how it would feel if your child just hit ‘like’ after you told them about your day or read them a bed time story. I thus find the mommy in me asking, is technology making us lazy? and our kids lazier?

Take the GPS as another example. I LOVE my GPS. It is such a life savor, especially for me with absolutely no sense of direction. Gone are the days of MapQuest and Google Maps where I’d have to give myself an extra 10 minutes before going anywhere to print out directions. Even farther gone are the days of asking for directions. Back in Pakistan where GPS’ aren’t available yet because of the complete lack of road signs and grid street structures, believe it or not, people still ask for directions. I remember as a kid before going to any birthday party I’d have my dad speak with my friend’s dad for directions. And these would be dependent on landmarks – the green Defence library, the submarine roundabout, the Eagle house… Then the ride over would be quite a bonding experience for my dad and I. He would tell me what landmarks to look out for as I peered out the window pointing out whatever I thought made sense. Sometimes we’d spend hours looking for the right house (and this was before cell phones). My daughter will never experience this – unless of course our GPS breaks, and at the same time both our cell phones’ batteries happen to run out while we’re driving…

And then there’s the Kindle or similar e-book reader. Now that’s one bus I haven’t gotten on yet. I just don’t get the same pleasure from an e-reader that I do from turning the worn pages of a good classic. I keep reading about how babies are good at imitating us – how the best way to teach them is to model the behavior we want them to adopt. So we’re supposed to read to them as early as possible. But what if they never see us reading? They only see us with an e-reader, or an iPad, or a blackberry? How then do we expect them to develop a love for books and reading instead of video games? I was  deeply saddened by Border’s demise. Will Barnes & Noble (in store form with actual paperbacks) still be around when my baby’s older?

Do you have similar fears or do I just sound paranoid? I’d love to hear your thoughts – preferably in ‘comment’ form, though ‘likes’ are also appreciated 😉