Monday, November 21, 2016

Lessons from Disney Princesses part 1

With the Disney World Marathon coming up January 8th, I thought this might be a good time to reshare these posts which first appeared on my Cassel Crew blog. I also share some books for girls that are great resources for moms, Sunday school teachers, teachers, small group leaders and so on. Consider adding them to your Christmas shopping list for gifts with value.

If your family is like ours, you've lived through the princess craze from Aurora to Cinderella to Belle to the newest sisterly dynamic duo—Elsa and Anna. You've watched the movies, heard the songs and dressed your daughters in miniature gowns and tiaras.

What kind of role models are these princesses to girls today? Or do girls even give any thought to them. After all, Snow White and Aurora are far removed from our lifestyles today.

A while back I posted about the Disney princesses. Basically I gave my version of their stories. I've included that in this post too. That part is in italics. I'm going to attempt to add to it but giving my thoughts on what girls learn from these princesses—and really, a lot of that depends on the parents.

Hopefully you watch the movies with your children and they serve as a springboard for important discussions on values, goals, motives, relationships and so on. If children watch movies, who knows how they may interpret the values, if at all.

So here goes….
(remember, the italicized part is what I wrote in my original post here ) 

Snow White is the original Disney princess, born with skin as white as snow, hair as black as Ebony and lips as red as a rose. She hides from her wicked stepmother in the home of the Seven Dwarfs, happily keeping house for them until she is tricked into eating a poisonous apple. She is naive, but kind, happy and a willing worker. And of course it only takes a kiss from a prince to revive her once she's been poisoned.

Snow White seems to be not much more than a carefree young lady in a flawless body who needs someone to take care of her. So for her, living with the dwarfs works out. She improves their lives, they give her a home. And really, if you can find that many men who are gainfully employed and go to work each day, go for it.

Okay, maybe not. But it's hard to take more away from Snow White than don't answer the door when you're home alone, don't accept food from a stranger and do your work cheerfully. Oh, and watch out for mean girls who are jealous of you. I don't think that's changed a lot even from Bible times. Think of Hannah and wife #2, Sarah and Hagar, or Leah and Rachel.

She may not have more than that to say to us today, but remember, she's from the 1930's and life was way different then.

Living the lesson: Look for friends who aren't threatened by your talents, looks or possessions. True friends won't play the comparison game or be jealous. So you won't have to go hide in the woods to avoid them.

Key verses for Snow White: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:17-18

Resources for today's girls
God's Girls series by Karen Whiting
For Girl's Only Devotions by Karen Larsen

Cinderella was perhaps the most popular of the princesses for a long time. I think Elsa may have passed her : ) Cinderella's widowed father remarries, and Cinderella gains a step mother and two lazy step sisters. When her father dies, she is mistreated by her step mother and sisters, yet she remains kind and gentle, doing the work without complaining and with only the mice and other animals for friends. Her fairy godmother helps her attend the ball where the prince fails in love with her after only a dance. Not knowing her identity, a kingdom-wide search for the owner of a lost glass slipper reunites them.

You can look at it as Cinderella is doing what is required by her step mother without giving up hope even when treated as a slave, or you can look at it as Cinderella passively accepts her lot in life and lets everyone walk all over her without complaining. Either way, she meets the prince who will take her away from it all and they live happily ever after. The problem with that is, his desire for her seems to be because of her beauty. I mean, how much did they really learn about each other during the dance? And what exactly is entailed in happily-ever-after? Sooner or later her beauty faded and body parts sagged. Hopefully they found more to base their marriage on before this happened.

Not many of us would teach our girls to stay in an abusive situation like Cinderella was in with her step mother, but CPS probably didn't exist back then. And few of us would want our daughters to marry someone based solely on their looks or what was learned during a dance. They need to wait for a guy who values them for their intelligence, creativity and so on.

Living the lesson: Make friends with guys. Get to know their interests, desires and heart. Do they share your values? Respect and even ask for your opinions? Encourage you to be yourself? If not, they aren't worth being friends with, much less developing a romantic relationship with.

Key verses for Cinderella: Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Resources for today's girls
The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible by Katrina Cassel
The Christian Girl's Guide to Style by Sherry Kyle

Aurora, a little naive and a hopeless romantic, is sheltered most her life. When evil Maleficent pronounces a curse on her while she's an infant, she is hidden away to be raised by three good fairies. She falls into a death-like sleep and can be awakened only by true love's kiss. Of course if you've seen the recently released "Maleficent" with Angelina Jolie, you know that isn't the true story at all .

Aurora is another princess who, unable to care for herself, is just waiting for the man who can take care of her. Flawlessly beautiful, she seems to do little more than pick berries and sing. You know there are issues when the color of her ball gown is a major plot point of the movie.

In her favor, she had been cursed so she was hidden away and that didn't lead to a lot of opportunities for her to improve herself.

Wanting to find the perfect man to spend your life with is good. And if a girl can find an attractive man with good manners to sweep her off her feet, great. But he really needs to have more going for him than his pedigree. And honestly, Aurora could have worked on some hobbies, done some reading and bettered herself while she was waiting.

Living the lesson: Sometimes there are waiting periods in life. When you have a school vacation with no plans or you're waiting for something bigger like your first date or job, use the time to improve yourself. Learn skills like how to change a tire or rewire a light switch (you don't want to have to depend on a prince, they don't do manual labor). Try something new like racquetball or stained glass art. Learn to cook. Run in a 5k or half marathon. Do things to make yourself more interesting, and you won't settle for the first prince who comes along.

Key verse for Aurora: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Resources for today's girls
 The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel

A Girl After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

Ariel is the daughter of King Triton and the youngest of seven sisters. Not content with being a mermaid, she trades her voice for the chance to be human. Of course everything goes wrong with this plan, but in the end, King Triton, realizing that Ariel loves Eric, changes her into a human and agrees she can marry Eric. Ariel is quite different than the first three princesses who seem to just go along with the plan. Ariel is independent and willing to take risks to get her dream, but she also has obedience issues.

On the one hand, Ariel wants to experience new things and explore a different culture.
She's curious, and she's determined. Good for her for those things. But overall she fails as a role model because she makes a deal with a stranger, and she changes everything about herself for a guy. What's up with that? She gives up her family and her identity as a mermaid for a guy she really doesn't even know. She may have had some desire to live in the human world before he came along, but without him she may have found another way to satisfy her curiosity other than giving up her family and identity.

Living the lesson: Embrace who God created you to be. He gave you the exact talent, abilities and personalities to do what you're meant to do. Don't trade it for something or someone else. Celebrate your uniqueness. And if someone wants you to be something you're not, move on.

Key verse for Ariel: You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! Psalm 139: 13,14,17

Resources for today's girls
Everyone Tells Me to Be Myself, But I Don't Know Who I Am by Nancy Rue

The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book by Katrina Cassel

Belle is one of my favorites because she is true to who she is. She doesn't go with the flow, but embraces her love of books and turns down Gaston who the rest of the girls swoon over due to his good looks. When Belle's father is held in a castle by the beast, she sacrifices her own freedom for his. Although at first she's turned off by the beast's looks, she soon learns to look beyond appearances. She declares her love for him while he is still in beast form, not realizing he's a prince under a spell/curse.

Belle knew the lesson Ariel missed. Be yourself. Belle was adventurous, smart and a reader. She turned down Gaston, despite his muscles and the fact that the other females thought he was a great prize. She knew he was a pig. She didn't settle for something that wasn't right for her.

Living the lesson: Don't worry if you seem "different." Don't change who you are or deny your real interests, likes and dislikes just to fit in. Find friends who either share your interests or who will accept them without trying to make you feel inferior.

Key verse for Belle: There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Resources for today's girls

The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel
A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls by Dannah Gresh
See here

And for all the princesses in your life:

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