Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The invasion of Disney Princesses begins

Despite my efforts to avoid branding when shopping for my daughter, it was probably inevitable that she would become exposed to the Disney Princesses and their powerful marketing campaign.

The diapers I bought on sale recently have Disney Princesses on them – some have just Cinderella, some have 3 princesses. For a few days, Miya insisted on only wearing the ones with the 3 princesses – and she kept asking me what their names are, till finally I went on-line and found out.

Awhile back I read an excellent book called ‘Bright from the Start’ which explained brain development in the early years. One of the things that stuck me is that research has shown that little boys are attracted to motion and little girls to faces – almost right from the get go. There is a reason why little boys love toy trucks and trains and little girls prefer dolls: we are wired that way.

Babies and small children are also attracted to symmetrical, aesthetically-pleasing faces.

I’ve also noticed that in the last few months, Miya has become obsessed with knowing the names of everyone she sees.

All of this makes her a perfect target for Disney’s massive princess marketing strategy. And in perfect timing, she’s just coming to the age where she is asking for specific purchases.

Peggy Orenstein, in her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, notes that Disney has "26,000 Disney princess items on the market today, part of a$4 billion-a-year franchise that is the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created.”

My daughter loves familiarity – it is no surprise that if she sees a Disney princess everywhere she looks, she will be more likely to want a Disney branded item over a non-branded one.

There are arguments to be made for the princess culture promoting ideas of girls and women being valued most for their looks, of waiting for Prince Charming, of living vacuous lives in castles... I agree with much of these things and could probably add a few rants of my own. But right now, with my two year-old, I’m wondering how I can best counter the pervasiveness of the Disney princess and their pretty, vapid faces popping up everywhere she looks.

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