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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Guest Blogger:
Our Princesses Have a Place in Disney

Welcome Tiffani - wife, mother of two, blogger, comedian, pop culture commentator, and younger sister of mine. She is here to share her thoughts on Disney's new animated film The Princess and The Frog, which you will find below. Show her some love.

I am not at all ashamed to admit my profound love of cartoons, movies geared toward school-aged children, and most animated films. I am fully entertained by Spongebob and all other residents of Bikini Bottom. I sing along to musicals about little orphan girls and newspaper boys. and I find myself drawn to Disney movies that include Princesses, Fairy Godmothers, and of course (*sigh*) Prince Charmings. So it is no surprise that I am truly excited about the upcoming release of the new Disney animated film, 'The Princess and the Frog." However, this Disney debut has some very unique (and long overdue) characteristics that make the occasion even more momentous to me.

Disney is finally releasing a film featuring an African American Princess and I am ecstatic about it. As a mother of a seven year old daughter I am well aware of how sensitive young girls are about their own self-image. I have painfully witnessed my daughter doubt her own beauty simply because of her darker complexion.

The way in which children develop an understanding of self-image is amazing. Children form their ideas of beauty based on what they see on movies and in television. They also base their ideas of beauty on they don't see. In child media, children of color are generally underrepresented. In fact, there are very few Disney characters that look like us. Until now, the only ethnic Princess offered by Disney has been Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. I admit, I do love that movie, but Jasmine's big oval eyes, caramel colored skin, and long hair have a certain ambiguity that could represent a wide variety of different races and ethnic groups.

My enthusiasm for The Princess and the Frog lies in the introduction of a princess that looks like my daughter. As a mother, it is important to me that my daughter is able to identify the "princess" in herself. Thus far, our daughters have been shown that only girls who look like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are worthy enough to be dubbed "Princess". This lack of diversity leaves so many children unrepresented. Every little girl should have the opportunity to find inspiration in a Disney Princess that resembles them.

My daughter is really excited to see The Princess and the Frog and while I am sure that she would be just as excited to see an Asian, Native American, or Eskimo princess, I'm glad it's her turn. I'm glad that we are being clearly represented (although permed and primped, but hey, one step at a time people). The introduction of a Black Princess will show my daughter that beauty isn't something found only in fair or lightly colored skin. She will see that her skin color is both beautiful and special, just like every other little girl that has been lucky enough to see a bit of themselves on the silver screen.

The Princess and The Frog opens in theaters on December 11, 2009. I say what a better way to celebrate than by taking our daughters, nieces, younger sisters, and God daughters out to support this film. Let's make this Disney Princess bigger and better then the ones before.

This has been quite a year...first a Black President and now a Black Princess.
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