Since I saw these knock off Disney princess bikinis for women, I've been having a little bit of a crisis. I mean why shouldn't there be a way for women to swim like Cinderella would, or strut the beach like Pocahontas? Be proud of your princess love; just because you're 34 or 42 doesn't mean you can't get about in the costumes of the idols of your youth.
They are effective, I'll give them that, though I'd hazard a guess that the success of the look lies mainly in the hair, makeup and accessories, and not the actual bikinis themselves. You'd have to go the whole hog for anyone to realise that you are actually Snow White, am I right?
And here's where I start to feel a little prudish, a little old-fashioned maybe: there is something I find deeply uncomfortable about them too. Before I get lambasted, hear me out. Now I'm all about 'whatever floats your boat', but when we're taking about characters created for the sole purpose of entertaining kids, and the fact that the promo photos are pretty darn sexy - well, that's where my issue is. Can't we just leave Disney princesses right where they are, in innocent kid-land?
Sure, there's the cosplay aspect. I can appreciate that's a full and interesting devotion to transforming one's self into a much-loved character. It's an art form I have a lot of respect for. I recently visited Peter Jackson's WETA Studios in Wellington, New Zealand, and had the privilege of taking a tour guided by one of his employees. I asked her how she came to be working halfway across the world, working on costumes and props for the famous director, and while I half-expected a spiel about enjoying dressing up as a kid, liking art then going into a degree of some kind, it turns out that most of the people there are self-taught cos players, tinkerers and cobblers who have been hand-crafting elaborate get ups once their fingers were first nimble enough to do so.
And hey, I'm not knocking an off-the-shelf option. But I could pretty much guarantee these bikinis weren't aimed at the serious cosplay market, despite some rather prominent cosplayers lending their modelling abilities (for a fee, I'm sure) to the Enchanted Bikinis photo campaign.
Maid of Might has 170,000 followers. One commenter creepily noted on the photo below "Pretty flesh", which just about encapsulates all of my discomfort in two words.
Kids are pretty capable of working out that these sexy bikinis aren't for them, aside from the fact that they don't come in their sizes. And sure, the sometimes sexy side of the cosplay world isn't meant for them either.
It's the whole grown-woman-as-a-princess thing that's I'm struggling with as a feminist, in addition to making childhood idols sexy. Am I going to defend your right to wear this swimwear? Hell yes. But seriously, does everything have to be sexy?
Anyway, have those conversations and wear your Disney princess bikini. It's all about balance in the end. Sexy isn't going away anytime soon, so we may as well roll with the punches, teach our kids what's real and what's not, and see how it all pans out.