Kids And Political Correctness – Part One

As we are trying to prepare our kids to face the real world, the literature we expose them to is sometimes sending confusing messages. My daughter’s favorite stories always involve a beautiful, nice and kind princess marrying a handsome, cool prince, thus escaping the evil of a stepmom. But what is this teaching her?

Beauty matters. Ouch! Really? Are all princesses beautiful? Erm . . . No, but nobody wants to read a story about an ugly lady, no matter how kind she is.

I know it’s not the message! In fact, I am pretty sure the moral of these stories is quite the opposite: when you are nice and kind, you are beautiful outside, no matter what you really look like. But it’s a second degree thing, a little hard to explain to five year olds.

My daughter’s take on the whole princess business is more along the lines of: if you are pretty, you are more likeable, regardless of whether you are nice or not. And if you are ugly, well, people can’t seem to see pass that and it really doesn’t matter whether you are nice or not. Disturbing thought. . .

Beauty is subjective, it’s in the eye of the one who looks and all that. But when you are five, this is simply not true: if you have big feet, with bunions (like Cinderella’s sisters), you could be Miss World and still ugly! Conversely, long hair and stunning dresses are the definition of beautiful, no matter what the rest of you looks like – unless you have big feet with bunions, and your dress can’t hide them . . .

I want to believe that the readers for whom these stories are intended (i.e. not forty something mothers with too much time in their hands to write posts about princess stories) know better than I give them credit for, and that they understand, beauty comes from the inside.

In order to make sure, I conducted a little survey and asked my three kids,

“Guys, if you could be a beautiful princess or prince who’s mean, or an ugly princess (prince) who’s super nice, which would you choose?”

The boys: “Mom, this is so lame! Who cares?”

The girl: “I would be beautiful.

–          But the beautiful one is mean.

–          Yeah, but she’s beautiful.

–          Maybe, but isn’t it more important to be nice?

–          Erm… No”

So there you have it. Message not received at all!


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