Why it's time for old school Disney princesses to retire

Does Snow White send kids harmful messages?
Does Snow White send kids harmful messages? 

I think it's time to retire the old school alumni princesses of yesteryear. Yep you heard right I think it's time to exit stage left ladies.

I've never been a fan of the princess phenomenon. As a kid I never dressed in tiaras or princess costumes and now I have sons, so you might argue I'm unqualified to stage such a movement. But in a time when the power of the matriarchy is on the rise is it really appropriate to portray women as damsels in distress, whose sole purpose in life is to be rescued by a man? Also, some of them violate sexual standards and laws that would not fly in 2018.

I was watching The Little Mermaid a while ago with my sons and my youngest asked "why is the mermaid so sad?" and before I could answer with a complex analogy about poor decisions, trusting a stranger over your own family and "before the sunsets on the third day" my six year old answered: "because she wants the Prince to kiss her and he won't". I was gobsmacked as it dawned on me just how literal kids are and how their impressionable little brains soak up the underlying messages they are watching.

My biggest beef really is with Snow White. To her credit she is from the 1930's so she couldn't have known about gender inequality as women hadn't even been allowed to vote for that long! But other than her main theme song lyrics being "one day my prince will come" what is it telling young and impressionable minds about consent? To awaken her from her curse induced coma (put on her by an evil woman) she needs "love's first kiss" from a prince. So a guy she doesn't know kisses her while she is passed out. Seems pretty creepy really and, well illegal.

Sleeping Beauty is nearly 20 years older but no wiser. She too suffers from a curse put on her by a different evil woman which can only be lifted by a prince kissing her while she is unconscious. Again, very creepy and illegal and I don't like what this is saying about the sisterhood. At least Ariel was conscious while she was trying to get kissed by her prince ridding herself of her voiceless curse put on her by yet another evil woman! 

It took until last year for a movement to come along and wake up the world to sexual assault and for women to feel like we really have a voice to speak up and be heard thank you #metoo. As a mum of young boys I am very conscious of instilling values around basic consent, and when it's appropriate or not to give and receive affection. Why would I want them to watch a film where a man kisses a woman who is lifeless? Honestly, I don't.

Modern Disney films have thankfully evolved. Thank the Greek goddesses for heroine tales like in Moana, Brave, Tangled and although Frozen had a cautionary romantic theme (important) the main love story was between two sisters because before this a woman's only hero quest that was portrayed was to bag a prince. You could argue that we all watched these films and we all turned out alright, but did we? Just look up "romantic comedy" in your Netflix account and you will find our generation are all still pretty obsessed with watching women on their hero quest to bag a bloke.

Some philosophers would argue that our life's purpose is to find our own "hero quest" and I kind of like that concept: we have a call to adventure where we cross over to the unknown and with the help of a mentor we face challenges, temptations and along the way we have a revelation which alters and atones us and we become transformed. I think if we are lucky we go on many hero quests in our lifetime. Sometimes that's in relationships but I think the most important ones are the hero quests that we go on for us.

So that's why I think we should retire the princesses from the past, as iconic as they were and a sign of the times they were in, because we are in a new time now. A bloody exciting time where future generations of women really can do anything (we just need to keep fighting for them to get paid the same while doing it).  

You can hear more from Annaliese on Instagram, Facebook and Sunday nights on The Queen Sesh with Constance Hall and Annaliese on The Hit Network.