Princess with Shells

“Princess with Shells,” 2011, 24 x 20″

I have a growing obsession with princesses and I am not alone in this. The affect of the Disney princess phenomenon so disturbs author Peggy Orenstein that she wrote a book called Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. Orenstein believes that the princesses essentially form a marketing scheme that ensnares young girls into a lifetime struggle with poor self-image. She also thinks the movement creates an insatiable consumer appetite for everything a princess should have from the moment a girl gets her first plastic tiara to the day of her “Bridezilla” wedding.

I agree with Orenstein to a point. But I also think that many girls just love shiny pink stuff and that’s innate. I was a tomboy who spent most of my childhood running around barefoot climbing trees. At the same time, my favorite color  was hot pink. I can also tell you if as a child I ever saw a box with all of the Disney princess dolls in it (like the one I spied recently at Target) my head surely would have exploded. And I’m just not sure I can chalk that up solely to brainwashing. Perhaps it is the shiny plastic, the bright colors, and the sheer impossibility of these toys and movies that are irresistible to children, especially girls. In the end, they are fake and offer an illusory dream at best.

I like to think childhood maintains the potential to be real. I believe there are still children growing up with the feel of water and mud on limbs and fingers, of grass/sand/gravel underfoot, and sun-browned skin.

I look to my boyfriend’s fourteen-year-old daughter for proof. She has watched Tangled so many times she knows it by heart and she certainly loves pink. But I have also known her to sit on her bed staring out at the rain or dig in the sand for seashells. This painting represents my hope that the pull of what is tangible and natural on this earth will win out against the artificial.

2 thoughts on “Princess with Shells

  1. Where did the doll come from? I don’t recognize it. And I agree with your article. Elisabeth loves the Princess thing but she loves the farm and walking the dogs and drawing, too. She is currently doing a series of family portraits!

    1. I found it in a thrift store. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be Ariel and she came with a little Snow White doll (which I haven’t undertaken to draw yet). I would love to see the family portraits!

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