Hidden somewhere in the depths of a long forgotten distant past lies an era of my life which I now refer to as BC: Before Children. Every so often a vivid flashback comes to mind of a firm opinion I formed during my pre-parenting naivety: Things I would NEVER do, if or when, I ever had children.
(Bear with me on this).
- I’d never allow them to writhe mid tantrum on the floor of a supermarket, howling as if a limb had been severed, whilst I calmly went about my weekly shop, apparently oblivious to the crisis unfolding at my feet.
- I would never, ever, feed my children potato waffles, fish fingers and beans for convenience sake or – heaven forbid – so they would have at least consumed a ‘decent meal’ (i.e. eat more than a handful of raisins or cheerios) in the last few days.
- I’d never stick them in front of the TV or any other device just to ‘give me five minutes’ (or 25 for that matter).
- And if I ever had daughters, I’d CERTAINLY steer them past the whole pink and fluffy girlie phase in an attempt to ‘keep it real’.
What a wally I was to harbour such ridiculous thoughts! Yes I’ve ticked each box, in fact, I’m probably a serial offender in many cases and with particular reference to no 1, I’m very proud of it! As any parent will agree, it takes some inner strength to remain calm and focused in the midst of your child’s public tantrum. Overall, we have found a good balance; we’re in our family groove. That is with exception to the ‘whole pink and fluffy girly thing’. I admit, we’re already in deep – up to our necks in fact – to the point where I’m beginning to feel vaguely haunted by it. Here I have most certainly let something slip.
I admit, I’m quite girly, but believe it or not I have probably peaked at ‘girly-ness’ whilst in my thirties. My childhood was spent exploring the woods, building dens, my hair cropped short. I was happiest when walking the dogs by the railway collecting rabbit skulls and dissecting owl pellets. I was fascinated by ghosts and ghoulies and preferred to be writing horror stories or reading ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books than playing with Care Bears or My Little Ponies. I paid a price for it with the local bullies but I stood firm: in my twenties I was more ‘Sporty-meets-Scary’ than Posh Spice, opting for dungarees and trainers over frocks and heels, whilst at uni I was often asked if I’d be out burning my bra anytime soon. But now, 2 daughters later, I live in a house full of shimmer and shine, ponies, castles and fairies with far too many princesses, fairytale weddings and happy endings for my liking. Basically I want our girls to grow up to be human beings that are very much in touch with reality and not young women brainwashed into thinking that you have to be beautiful or hanging off the arm of a prince to be happy or successful. It’s a firm opinion I’ve held throughout the BC years and beyond, but somehow, somewhere, I’ve allowed myself and our girls to succumb – if only slightly – to the onslaught of the plastic princesses and their perfect fairytale lives.
Reading a fellow blogger’s recent post : http://randommusingsbynobodyimportant.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/the-problem-with-disney-princesses/ was the wake up call I needed to take action. Unlike Rebecca I can’t quite put my finger on when the princess infestation began but what I do know is that we need an antidote, and fast! So here it is. New Year. Time for a detox. A Disney Detox!
We’ve started with a collection of ‘Fantastic Real Life Ladies’ who we researched over the Christmas break. We’ve looked at their pictures, discussed what sort of ladies we think they are, even talked about what they’re wearing. We’ve learnt about what makes them special. Our 5 year old has already asked more questions about these ladies than she ever did of Elsa or Ariel. Let’s hope we’re onto something… maybe a new era in our lives…. AD: After Disney???
‘My Book of Fantastic Ladies’ by Elodee.
(ok, one Princess sneaked in)
So far we’ve included these amazing ladies: Camila Batmanghelidjh, Stella McCartney, Indra Nooyi, Margaret Thatcher, Madonna, JK Rowling, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sofia Stanley, Kathrine Switzer, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, Junko Tabei. It’s work in progress so we’d welcome suggestions of women that we should include. We’d love to hear your comments and ideas for more Disney Detox activities too!
Thank you for reading.
If this post has struck a chord and you’d like to tackle issues around image, identity and self-esteem with your children, please check out my children’s book: