An Open Letter To Mia Freedman

Dear Mia,
I was just on your website and discovered a post entitled ‘why I’m no fan of cinderella, snowwhite, sleeping beauty etc.‘ in which you ranted about hating fairy-tales because they make little girls grow up thinking they can sit and home and Prince Charming will come and save them. I have so many problems with that thought process that I can’t even begin to voice them all. But I will try.
I am currently fifteen years old. I have grown up loving all the disney princesses, and still do love them. Do you want to know why I love them (and all movies aimed at kids) so much?
BECAUSE REALITY SUCKS.
Yes, Mia, I understand that ‘Prince Charming’ will not ride in and save me. I understand that sitting at home and being uneducated will not take me far in life. I understand I need friends and hobbies. I understand that ugly does not equal bad, and pretty does not equal good. I understand that marriage does not equal happiness, and guess what? One day your daughter, and all little girls, will as well. It doesn’t mean they can’t dream. Just because my best friend’s mum often tells us to marry ‘a rich old man with a bad cough’ doesn’t mean we actually will. Fairy tales and childrens stories, to me, are merely an escape from a world, which I am fully aware is nowhere near perfect. I find comfort in the fact that I can sit at home with a broken leg and watch The Little Mermaid and have my mind be taken off the pain and into a fantasy world where love at first sight, and love that conquers all, really does exist.
Liking disney princesses and fairy tales does not mean I have been ‘brain washed’. It does not mean I am delusional, or have a warped view of the world. It means quite the opposite, actually. I understand how hard real life is. I understand that sometimes a prince never comes. I understand that many ‘princes’ turn out to be toads, and that more often than not, happily ever after doesn’t exist. I love these stories so much because while watching or reading them, just like every other fictional novel, you can be taken away to a world where everything is perfect in the end.
I am glad you are letting your daughter like princesses, because really, wouldn’t you rather her grow up with the idea that there is a prince charming waiting for her, than growing up thinking there’s no-one? Maybe her Prince Charming won’t be someone she ends up marrying. Heck, it could be a celebrity who ‘saves’ her from troubled times through music or messages.
I fully plan on going to university, getting a dream job and working hard. It’s not my dream to be a 1950’s housewife, but the idea of a true love is somewhat a beacon of light in an otherwise dreary world. It’s 2010 for goodness sake. I know women aren’t housewives anymore, but we certainly don’t all need to be feminists. Believe it or not Mia, many people do find a happily ever after, and part of that package is a Prince Charming. Teenage girls today have such a freedom of choice, and if liking the idea of a happily ever after to escape a terrible reality works for some, then let it.
On top of messages given to us by fairy tales, we’re also given messages by the modern ‘ disney princesses’, or teen stars. Guess what? A lot of them believe in waiting for a ‘prince charming’ and marriage before having sex. Is that wrong too? Should we, and in turn, your daughter, be sleeping with everyone because our prince isn’t worth waiting for? Well, in your opinon, it’s more because he’s not coming. Don’t worry though, they do also warn us about not everyone being Mr. Right, so there’s no need to start a tirade against them, as Taylor Swift says:

I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale, I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet lead her up the stairwell. This ain’t hollywood, this is a small town, I was a dreamer before you went and let me down. Now it’s too late for you and your white horse to come around.

Basically, Mia, girls can love Disney Princesses and still be powerful women who aren’t dependant on a man, on or off a white horse, to come and save them. And let’s face it, a world without a happily ever, fictional or not, doesn’t seem like a very nice world to me.

frangipani princess xoxo

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10 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Mia Freedman

  1. Thank you! I wanted to post something very similar when I read that post as well but couldn't put it into words. I don't entirely love the third paragraph, but the rest are my thoughts exactly! Love the Taylor Swift lyrics and your sentences wrapping it up. Good job!

  2. I'm glad you didn't focus instead on how all of the Princes in these stories are pretty much useless. Unless, of course, you count Shrek; he could at least be counted upon to whip up a mean batch of squirrel stew.Mulan saves her prince; a couple of times, and Belle is just one sharp woman.

  3. Well said! So impressed with you and that wonderful response. I'm so happy to hear that a girl your age has a strong head on her shoulders. You're on the right track!

  4. Yeah; but, this not being a fairy tale, Belle married Gaston; who gave the Beast a wedgie and is now laughing at Belle's father in the loony bin (they got that part right…)

  5. Who is this Mia Freedman anyway? I've never heard of her! (and i'm glad)She sounds like an idiot, I mean, when kids are little you aren't going to tell them about getting educated and the hard slog ahead, divorces and the fact that it might be ages before they find someone who loves them for who they are, they are kids for christ's sake! They just want to have fun and dream, is that so wrong?And if you're older you obviously know the difference between reality and fiction, it's as you said, a way to "escape reality".

  6. But why do you think reality sucks? Life is what it is, light and dark, fantasy and imagination, people who will save you and people who won't. I believe that holding the position that reality sucks is not accepting it ALL. No point in denying any of it as it is what it is. Good on you for taking a high profile media personality on. She does not have all the answers nobody does. Best…

  7. I have to say that I agree with most of the sentiments of Mia's post. I think her point is less about princesses, as such, and more about the appropriateness of role models.It would be great if our girls could look to Aung San Suu Kyi or Emmeline Pankhurst or Marie Curie as examples of women they'd like to emulate. I think her point was that princesses, in and of themselves, achieve very little except to marry a prince.And yes, you can argue that you'd like to dream of meeting a prince, that is it harmless. Why the need to dream of anyone completing your life though? If you are a kind person, a person who achieves great things in your own right, men (the right kind, the non-superficial kind) will be attarcted to that. And if you choose to share your life with someone, that's great, but it is not necessary for fulfillment.Additionally, Mia spoke about the appropriateness of the princesses always being skinny, overly attractive. That may be a bit rich coming from a former magazine editor who has profited from the very industry that she claims to deplore – and believe me, I see the hypocrisy there – but I have to say that I'm in agreement with her sentiments. Contemporary research is showing that, more and more, girls are developing issues with self-esteem earlier and earlier. How about we show a princess, a heroine, with braces, or glasses or pimples, or a princess who is even a size 12? And not just as a tokenistic gesture, but something authentic – a genuine commitment to broadcast images which reflect our society today, with other cultures, other shapes, other skin colours, as the norm, rather than the exception. I believe that if popular culture gave girls a little diversity in the images that it transmits, it would be a great thing.Finally, I'd argue that it is primarily the role of the parents to instill appropriate values in their children, to role model appropriate behaviour. However, Mia makes the valid point that pop culture seems to be a pervading influence these days, and I think she's right. Children have friends at school with branded products, they play with their neighbours who have the same. There is no escapaing it. Perhaps it is right to expect industries involved with the promotion of these things to be a little responsible, a little ethical, in how they go about it and the message that it sends impressionable children.

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