On Sunday evening while I’m making dinner, Jane comes into the kitchen.
“Mama,” she says, “all I need to be a princess is to have hair like this, ” she makes a swooping motion over her forehead and ear, “and to be skinny right here,” she puts her hands on her waist.
I blink. A voice inside my head starts screaming, Oh God, no! She’s going to be anorexic! Or bulimic! Help! What do I do?
The voice I speak with is remarkably calm. “No, honey,” I say. “In order to be a princess you have to marry a prince. Or be the daughter of a king.”
“No, Mama,” she says. “I have to be skinny right here.” She lifts her hands from her waist and lowers them again emphatically.
The voice inside my head is freaking out. You idiot! You let those #@$%&* Disney Princesses into the house, and look what happened!
I kneel down in front of her. I say, “Did you know that some princesses are fat?”
She shakes her head. “No they’re not.” She knows all about princesses and they’re all skinny right here.
I try again. “Do you know who your Father is?”
“Yes. But you have a heavenly Father, too.”
“Yes. And do you know who God is?”
“Yes. God is God. But God is also the King. God is the King of kings. God is the biggest King there is. And you are God’s daughter. So what does that make you?”
She thinks for a second, then grins. “A princess!”
“That’s right,” I say. “You already are a princess.”
She gives me a big hug and then runs to the bedroom to tell Jack.
I stand up and stir the onions on the stove, not at all convinced that I’ve handled this correctly or even well. I silently curse the Disney Princesses for bringing this crisis upon me.
I will freely admit that we live in a bubble. It’s an intentional choice Doug and I make to shield our kids from most of the commercial crap that’s out there.
But it’s a bubble, not an armored tank. So it’s permeable. Our kids have friends. And grandparents. And other relatives. And they don’t all hold the same views that Doug and I do. Which means things like the Disney Princesses seep in, regardless of how I feel about them.
For the most part I just let it go. I figure making a big deal about something just, well, just makes it a big deal.
But as I stir the onions, I wonder if we need a moratorium on princesses who are skinny right here. Jane is beautiful, and she has a beautiful athletic body. But she’s not skinny. And I don’t ever want her to think she has to be skinny.
For now, I’ve punted on this issue. But I know it will come back. It won’t always be the Disney Princesses who are skinny right here, but it will be someone. And how do I tell her so she believes me that she’s beautiful and her body is beautiful even though it doesn’t look like Cinderella and her ilk?
On Monday, I tell my mother-in-law, “No Disney Princess stuff for Christmas.”
Half an hour later, Jane is telling her that she wants Disney Princess Polly Pocket dolls for Christmas.
Once more, I utter oaths of loathing against those *%&#* Disney Princesses.