So many girls grow up on Disney princess stories and fairy tales. What is it about the concept of being a princess that captivates us so much? And what do these stories drill into our minds that might not be healthy, godly ideas for marriage?
Fairy tales tend to focus on the girl, her life, her suffering, her dreams, her loneliness and her plight. The princess pictures a handsome prince sweeping in and rescuing her from the drudgery of her real life and carries her blissfully into happily ever after where she never has any problems ever again.
That dream is not necessarily bad. In fact, it kind of makes me think about Jesus and His church. Some of the most amazing stories have patterns that match what Jesus did us. Jesus is the Prince Who comes and rescues His bride-to-be and suffers great agony, anguish and pain in order to save her from her captor. Then, one day, He will come and carry her away to be with Him to live happily ever after in heaven.
God did design marriage to be a beautiful representation and living picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. So I think that is why the princess stories grab the imagination of girls and women so much. That is what we long for – to be rescued, cherished, adored, loved, cared for and protected.
It is SO easy to turn that good desire for marriage and romance into the most important thing in our lives – more important than Jesus. When that happens – the desire can become an idol.
I see a few issues in some fairy tales and princess stories that may not prepare women well for a godly marriage. I have a wonderful little 6 year old girl. We have watched princess movies at various times. And then we talk about the messages the movies send. You are welcome to add your thoughts!
- The stories focus almost entirely on the girl – her feelings, her desires, her dreams, her suffering, her perspective.
- Cinderella’s prince and Snow White’s prince didn’t even have names!?!?! Much less an identity. That is just so wrong!
- There is ZERO character development of the prince. (Except in Beauty and the Beast)
- It doesn’t really matter who the prince is – they often decide to get married the day they meet many times based on immediate attraction. They don’t even know each other! They don’t examine each other’s character or faith in God at all. NOT GOOD! And they spend no time getting to know each other or each other’s families.
- The Little Mermaid was EXTREMELY disrespectful of her Daddy and his authority – and everything worked out just fine. She pursued the man she wanted, against her father’s advice. (She didn’t wait for him to pursue her. Although, not having a voice was probably helpful!) She almost caused her Daddy and the whole kingdom to become prisoners of the evil Ursula because of her defiance. But everything worked out great. Her rebellion had no real consequences.
- Modesty is definitely lacking in most of the princess movies. Not the best message for our girls.
- The way the princesses are drawn is very unrealistic – it sets up an unattainable expectation for body image.
- The pinnacle of the very short whirlwind relationship is the wedding. And then there is almost nothing ever shown after the wedding. There seems to be no conflict. There are no differences of opinion. Marriage seems to take zero work, effort, tears or struggle.
- The prince’s life is often not explored at all. His calling, his decisions, his royal responsibilities, his aspirations, his dreams, his perspective are completely unnecessary and superfluous to the story.
- Most of the time, it is the princess’ outer beauty that is the focus, not her heart and character. Although, I do have to say that Cinderella’s character and Belle’s character have some beautiful inner qualities.
- In real life – we won’t have a perfect Prince like Jesus. We will have a human man who sins against us and hurts us at times. Yes, according to Ephesians 5:22-33, husbands are to represent Jesus. But they will not be perfect and they will not BE Jesus. When we expect total perfection, by our own definition and standards, we are extremely disappointed by reality. It is easy for us to make our men idols – to expect them to be 100% responsible for our own happiness. And if we are not happy, it’s their fault! That is not true! I am responsible for my own emotions and happiness and my own spiritual growth. Beauty and the Beast is a bit more realistic about this particular issue!
- In more modern princess stories – the princesses are taking charge themselves more and more and are becoming more sarcastic, independent and these movies often show the men as being complete idiots and the movies portray marriage as being utterly unnecessary to have a fulfilling life for a woman. Of course, marriage is not necessary for fulfillment as a woman – Jesus is the main necessary thing in our lives. And He does call some women to singleness for seasons of their lives or for their whole lives. But movies like Brave make marriage look like torture. The men are AWFUL! Have you seen that movie!?!!? Marriage is made out to be oppression.
- There is no demonstration of how to live out a godly marriage. The idea is that once you are married, things are just automatically perfect and wonderful and happy every moment of every day for the rest of your life.
- Another issue is that while we girls were watching these princess stories – our male counterparts were watching hero movies. They didn’t learn the role that we expect them to fill. They were imagining battles and conquests. If you have ever seen Shrek – Fionna gets angry at Shrek for not “rescuing her properly.” She is SO disrespectful to her hero and tells him what to do and how to do it. GREAT example of disrespect and lofty expectations that are unrealistic. The language in that movie is not the best. So if you haven’t seen it, I wouldn’t recommend it.
These concepts affect us, our expectations of marriage and our men as well as ourselves. How are we impacted by fairy tales? What have you noticed in your life or in those around you?
We will be discussing romantic movies, books and songs in a future post and how those impact us, as well!