As a preschool teacher and a godmother of the three year old boy children’s animated culture is a part of my every day life. I take a stroll around Kohl's or Savers, I am automatically looking through the books shelves for options to add to my library. I am teasing through books with characters my students might recognize and cultural stories they may have never seen before. I can not pretend that my interest in animated children's culture only stems from my profession, I personally enjoy watching Disney movies. Whenever I new one comes out I am grabbing my godchild and off we go to Cinemaworld. I think it is important for me to know the characters that my students are learning from and most of the time I truly enjoy watching the movies. However, I feel that during the course of this class my enjoyment may be ruined.
As a child I had a great deal of Disney VHS movies but I remember spending more time watching Land Before Time, Arthur and a lot of PBS. I, of course watched the princess movies, but they were not a huge interest of mine. I remember being told I was deprived because my dad never called me a princess, I only had basic cable and I had never gone to Disney. I never noticed that my dad never called me a princess because my sister and I were never really interested in being called one. We had our own nicknames and we would rather watch Spy Kids or other more family action movies. I had basic cable because my mom found at an early age that I was an auditory learner and I would repeat full episodes of TV and she quickly decided there were better ways to spend her money. I did not go to Disney until I was 18 and I went with family friends. My family went to museums, Washington D.C, Canada and Puerto Rico. My parents valued culture over Disney attractions. Disney played a role in my childhood, but I do not believe that role carried any real weight.
I believe that my students and family are more attached to Disney media than I was as a child. Some of my students would come into school this past year, with their Elsa dress, or their Elsa braid. Every day I wore french braids "Miss Bryana, you have Elsa hair today." Through out dramatic play I would hear, "you be Anna and I will be Elsa and he can be Kristoff," "Miss Bryana can you put on the Frozen CD," "Let it GOOOOOO!" My godchild and his brother are three and six they defiantly enjoy watching Disney movies but I believe their attachment to the characters are less then my students. However, they do mention ideas that I now believe they receive from the "secret education," things like "Madrina you smart cuz your a girl," or "I want to be big and strong like my daddy." This need to be strong because they are males and my need to be smart because I am a female. I must add that I have to be "super smart" because I am "a teacher and teachers know everything!" :)
I believe in some ways my childhood reflects Christensen’s claims and in other ways it challenges them. In reflection, I always wanted to be pretty, but I understood that my looks did not reflect those of a Disney Princess. I have brown eyes, brown hair, freckles and tan skin. I have never been super skinny. A part of me wanted to be perfect, but a large part said I am not and that is alright. So in a way I reflected her claims, I saw the princesses and wanted to be perfect. I challenged her claim because my want to be a princess never overwhelmed me. Even as a pre-teen Cheetah Girl's Cinderella resonated with me more than wanting to be a princess.
Brave is a giant step in a new direction. I believe Merida meets some of my memories but challenges more of princess culture. Merida is physically shown differently, her hair is a flowing mess of curls, she has freckles, simple eyes and not particularly beautiful. She is pretty, but not perfect. Merida isn't interested on being a princess, she doesn't want to be tied down to a prince. She wants to be free! She does not ride horses side saddle, we get to observe her hate and discomfort for her clothing. Talk about a change in plot line, she is so different from my perfect princess image. Both mom and dad are part of the story. Men are depicted in some very negative lights, strong, but not well spoken and not very bright. Her mother is an extremely strong character and they both end up saving the day, no help from the big strong men. Good job Disney, a step in the right direction.