Like every other kid in America, I grew up watching Disney. My favorite princess was Belle and in the first grade, I was Tinkerbell for Halloween. I've always loved Disney. But along with princesses, I've always believed in superheroes. This is what I've always found special about the way I was brought up. My dad is an avid comic book nerd and my mom holds the firm belief that TV is the key to an honest knowledge of the world. Those two mixed together turned me into the person I am today.
If I should have a daughter, the first thing that she watches on TV will not be one of the classic Disney movies that I fell in love with as a child. I'm not going to bar her from watching them completely, but I don't want her only model of the ideal woman to be from a Disney princess. Yes, the songs are catchy. Yes, they are very easy to fall in love with. But they are also going to teach her that she will never, under any circumstances, be able to save herself. If something bad were to happen to her, someone else — someone male — would be the one to jump in and save her.
"Beauty and the Beast", one of my favorite movies as a kid, romanticizes some of the most glaring characteristics of an abusive relationship. In "The Little Mermaid", Ariel loses her ability to speak and wins over Prince Eric with her body, completely objectifying her. In "The Princess and the Frog", Tiana's best friend Charlotte is portrayed as dim and uneducated, using nothing but her looks to get by, I'm not going to be the one to perpetuate those kinds of messages to my child, because that's just harmful. A young child is so vulnerable to the things that they see and learn on TV. Girls are already getting bombarded constantly with impossibly skinny and unrealistically airbrushed images of the "ideal" woman. I firmly believe that all princess movies do is show them that they don't have the ability to take charge or think for themselves.
I want my daughter to believe in superheroes, in the same way that I do. Instead of showing women as flighty and uneducated, they show them as independent, tough, and fully capable of fighting their own battles. I'm going to park my daughter in front of a TV, turn on some Justice League, and give her a healthy idea of the woman she is supposed to become. I want her to learn about Scarlet Witch, who held her own alongside the boys in battle and pushed forward in life, even after losing her entire family. I want her to be like the Black Widow, who was still able to find happiness and stable relationships without the ability to have children. And I definitely want her to know about Wonder Woman, who kicked royal ass when Batman and Superman were both getting the shit kicked out of them.
Now I'm not a complete monster, every kid should know the awesomeness that is Disney. I just don't want my daughter to grow up thinking that a "princess" is who she is supposed to be. My daughter will now all kinds of TV, just like what my parents did for me. When she is young, she will know superheroes and know that she has the capability to be one herself. And once she knows that, I absolutely want her to know true love, magic, fairy tales, all the amazing messages that made the world fall in love with Disney to begin with. I will make sure that - if I should have a daughter - she will watch and listen and learn about everything I can get my hands on. I just don't want her to grow up hearing the word "girl" and automatically thinking "weak."