|Valeria Lukyanova: The Human Barbie|
Dora the Explorer used to be an adorable, adventurous girl who wore shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers, a watch, and carried a backpack with a map inside. She was short with a round face, no eyelashes, and a cute messy bob haircut. NOW, she is tall and skinny, lost the backpack somewhere along the way, grew long thick eyelashes, wears a pink dress, purple tights and flats, has sparkling eyes, long beautiful hair and a pearl bracelet. The creators say she is just "growing up", so is this what all girls are supposed to grow up to be? Even muppets characters have gone from being purple but"fat," to "cute" but orange, until now the latest muppet, Abby, is pink with purple hair, long eyelashes, fairy wings and a adorable slogan to match: "Thats SO magic!"
When I even just think of the title Cinderella Ate My Daughter I immediately think of the kids I used to babysit. The youngest is 6 month old, "Baby Joey" and the two older girls, Samantha and Sophia are three and four. Their house is the perfect example of the pink and blue separation between girls and boys and the problems of growing up in princess culture. Joey's room is mostly blue with red trim and there are pictures of trains and planes and construction trucks on the walls, his teddy bear is a police man, and he has dinosaur sheets. The two girls rooms are almost identical, like someone vomited pink all over everything. They have dolls and ballerina teddy bears covering their beds, and pictures of ballet slippers, princesses, and their names, well... "Princess Sophia" and "Princess Samantha" in pink wooden letters hanging on their walls. They each also have custom made books where some mystical land of fairies is looking for a new queen and they name off characteristics that "their queen needs to have"; one trait for every letter of their first and last names. They also have books called Pinkalicious and Purplicious.. it doesn't take a wild imagination to figure out what those books teach!
These kids have the biggest friggin' play room I've ever seen, bigger than my bedroom. The walls are covered in shelves, and the shelves are FULL of every toy you could possibly imagine. No word of a lie, the mother called me to come work for her one day, and the only thing she had me do for the first 4 hours I was there was take a tiny screw driver and put all new batteries in every single one of their toys; every toy that required batteries, that is. There are toys all over their whole house, and its very clear which ones are for the girls and which ones are for Joey. Joey's dad saw me letting him scribble in a Disney Princess coloring book, and without a word traded it for some coloring book "clearly" meant for a boy. I told a story in class one day about how the girls are being taught by their mother to hate poor people and fear that they'll be ugly. She tells them, "If you don't finish your oatmeal I'm going to have to give it to a poor person", and when they resist getting dressed in the morning she says, "I'm going to give your clothes away to a homeless person if you don't put them on!" She also tells that that they'll have ugly teeth and skin if they don't wash their faces and brush their teeth before bed every night, or that they'll have ugly hair for twirling it in their fingers. What we've learned in class about discourse and how careful word choice can completely change messages and meanings has made me think back to this. When I was a little girl and I didn't finish my dinner, in an attempt to get me to eat my parents might say, "Think of all the hungry people in the world that can't afford to buy food", even though it has the same intention from both parents to get their children to eat, saying "I'm going to have to give it to a poor person" has a much different connotation. I eventually told them I was too busy to babysit for them, but it was mostly because the girls treated me horribly, and I didn't really want any part in how their parents were raising them or their son. I guess I could have tried to be more helpful and encouraging for them, but they would seriously threaten to tell their mom I was a mean baby babysitter, and they'd threaten to lock me in closets when their mom wasn't home! I've never been so afraid of a 3 year old in my life. AHH!!