Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cinderella: Greeting Card Trollop

Do you pay particular attention to items that are for sale that are targeted toward children?

Today, my family and I were in WalMart (I know, I know). We were searching for the latest flimsy cardboard cutouts that they might give them to their friends next Wednesday in the name of Valentine cheer. As I perused the seasonal aisle of Valentine's flotsam, I began to notice a trend among several of the boxed sets of cards.

The boys' cards were what you would expect; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Superman, Spiderman, and Pirates of the Carribean, your standard testosterone inducing fare. However, many of the girls' cards were along the same level. They were hormone inducing, but not for the same reasons as the boys' cards.

The girls' selections were comprised of notably, Disney Princesses, such as Cinderella, Ariel (The Little Mermaid), and Belle (Beauty and the Beast). Tinkerbell of Peter Pan had her own box and then there were the Bratz; radical, pre-adolescent change agents.

The Disney characters were noticeably different from what I remember from my childhood and adolescent years as well as recent family viewing. Cinderella was not what these cards portrayed her to be. In the film, she was innocent, virtuous, chaste; an unspoiled maiden, the envy of her wicked stepsisters. Cinderella was not the trollop brazenly and voluptuously brandished across those children's boxed sets of Valentine's Day cards.

Without being overly descriptive, Cinderella was posing in such a way to betray her "best" features; a hand provocatively slung back on her hip; slyly leaning forward in a much bustier dress than she wore in the classic movie; all accompanied by a mischievous "come hither" look. The Tinkerbell cards were much worse, some of her poses offering a soft porn flavor.

The departure from the childlike innocence of the original movies to parallel the erotic love often associated with Valentine's Day is especially troublesome, particularly on a child's set of cards to be handed out to other children. This is not the same Cinderella that scolded Bruno the dog for dreaming that he was chasing Lucifer the cat; "That's bad!" Cinderella insisted.

Cinderella would also say "that's bad" to how a slick greeting card company turned her sweet, chaste demeanor into provocateur rather than further dignifying her as the patient lady in waiting that she most assuredly was; not to mention the simple fact that the cards are aimed at sale to children.

The message that this sends to young girls is obvious; chastity, propriety, and modesty are no longer virtues. It may not be implicit on the face of each and every little card, but the seeds of impropriety and immodesty are being sown and they cannot be denied nor overlooked.

Cinderella is the wrong character to impose this kind of licentiousness upon. Tinkerbell might have been crafty, sneaky and even downright mean; but Cinderella? The Bratz seem to have been created for the express purpose of instilling sexuality and a mall mentality in the minds of young girls before the age of nine, but Cinderella? The extrapolation is sickening.

Why contort Cinderella? Why defame her good nature, undermine her humility and ridicule her femme sole? She could easily be the poster-girl for chastity and purity. I know the answers to my questions. If it can be instilled in the minds of girls at a young age that sexy, provocative dress, sly backward glances, and flirtatious body language "works" and gets them what they want, then why not start early? Its what boys look for and what they expect, isn't it? Cinderella was communicating the way girls ought to look and act, and chaste is not it.

Nevertheless, my girls did not notice Frankenrella. Thankfully, they were more interested in the barnyard animal, Care Bears, and bug-eyed house pet cards.


Alan Knox said...

I guess you should have gone to LifeWay and bought the Jesus Valentine's Day cards... ;)


Heather said...

Alan - LOL

Tony -

I want to buy a couple more of the insulated sippy sups for my little one. Now, the 2 she already has are cute with little animals and such. But every time that I go to the store I look for 2 more and the only ones have Ariel on them. Even though she's a baby, I just can't bring myself to buy them. I just can't stand the way she's portrayed on them -- and it's a baby sippy cup for crying out loud! Honestly, she doesn't even look the same as she did in the movie and that was not an early Disney film. And you are right about Tinkerbell ... I've not seen an item that doesn't have her portrayed that way. Ick!!

Tony said...


Valentine's Day is one we should skip altogether.


We have also noticed that you can get the non-insulated ones that are plain or have other designs on them, but the insulated ones seem to always have Disney "princesses" on them or something along those lines.

With Ariel and Tinkerbell, its almost easy to see how the producers could make this leap about their character (even though they are fictional). Ariel had a touch of rebellion and wander-lust; well, more than a touch and Tinkerbell was vengeful, scheming, and self-absorbed. But Cinderella?

You cannot even go there.

Tony said...


Let me rephrase my response before all of the lady readers delist me from their blogrolls!

There are some parts of Valentine's Day I wish we could skip altogether.

There. Whew! Sorry ladies!

Anonymous said...

Hey, you don't have to appologize to me, Tony...remember that tag thing the other week and one of the words I wish described me? Romantic...I'm too tight to spend money on V-day and not creative enough to make it special on a dime. It would sure take the pressure off if we could scrap the whole thing!

We recently borrowed Cinderella and the sequel from our neighbors (too tight to rent movies, too!)...should I be afraid to admit that my boys really enjoyed it? Don't worry...their dad was just bragging yesterday about how great it is that they appreciate a woman's beauty so much. Anyway, I watched Cinderella II with them and was really put off. They won't be watching it again. Besides the fact that it was just poorly done, I didn't like her voice, I despised the pop music in it, and there was this part where Cinderella was helping one of her step-sisters attract a beau, telling her that she needs to be her own person and not worry about what her mom says. True, her mom was wicked, but still....the message was clear: "follow your heart"--it always trumps your parents wishes. Now, obviously I don't have any qualms with an adult who still lives under her mother's roof making such decisions on her own, but clearly the movie was not made for that age group. Little girls will see that and believe that they have the right to do whatever they want as long as they are being "true to themselves".

Thanks for the post--and don't go broke next week taking care of all your valentines!

Tony said...


After that thought about Valentine's Day, BM will be the envy of every husband out here! ;)

Those Disney "2" movies are horrid. They are simply pocket liners for Disney. My mom bought Fox and the Hound 2 for Christmas for my children. There was not anything overtly wrong with it; it was just, well, stupid.

I want my kids watching things, that is WHEN they watch, which is not often, with substance. These flimsy, mundane movies with no plot, no storyline, no resolution, no redeeming value at all are just baby-sitters. But I guess that is the point; amusement literally means an activity that has absence of thought.

Your comment about parental authority is interesting. I felt Disney began crossing the line with The Little Mermaid. Ariel's problems began with the simple fact that she disobeyed her father. To make it worse she abandoned her family and went to the sea witch to have her needs met. Sounds a bit like a parable, doesn't it?

Maybe I ought to write a book; Disney Daddy's and the Kids They Love or something.

The majority of the time, those movies include adult humor and adult situations and my gripe with them is the same with these Cinderella cards. They are targeted toward children!

Streak said...

My thoughts on this are mixed. I have been iffy on Disney for years, mostly because they take important stories and turn them into the same stories--love story, underdog story, and one other one I can't recall right now.

But I think we are all mixed on this. Walmart both provides good prices and jobs and runs people out of business and sells crap. Fox is both the conservative voice and the communications network that would televise executions if they could.

Here is another little interesting mix of culture and capitalism. On one hand, we have this legacy of patriarchy where women reside on the pedestal, but live in a world where women are Sec of State and run Germany. How to negotiate that?

BTW, Tony, there is one clear reason why these cartoons have been updated. They aren't just marketed to kids, but to the adults who buy them. One of the divided parts there, too, right? Good that parents are more involved in their kids, but then the movies have to have (or they think) adult themes to keep the adults from boycotting.

I still chuckle, btw, when I remember a bunch of history phd students buying popcorn and watching Pocahantas one afternoon. Nothing like nerds at a Disney film asking historiographical questions.

Tony said...


I see the dichotomies that you have drawn, but I don't know if we are missing one another. My concern is not necessarily with Disney, but with this greeting card company who took liberties with Disney's characters.

To be fair, I have not seen Cinderella 2. At WalMart the same day we were getting cards, I saw that Cinderella 3 is out. Honestly, I don't watch a whole lot of TV, so I did not know that 3 was out until I saw it on the shelf.

The extrapolations about Cinderella's character are probably made from those movies so I cannot make a reasonable assessment there. But my concern here is not that girls should emulate Cinderella as poster-girl, but why does sexuality have to imbue everything?

Why can't the little Valentine's Day cards for kids be minus erotica, without even a hint of it in the cards? Honestly, some of the shots of Tinkerbell didn't leave a whole lot to the imagination and my imagination works pretty good. This is one reason I stated above that I wish we could skip Valentine's altogether; how necessary is it to celebrate romantic/erotic love?

I don't think this issue is about patriarchy and "femininity" so much as it is the hypersexualization of our culture and what it does to kids; how it distorts their views of it and exposes them to it before they are ready, or before parents deem they are ready.

Streak said...


I don't disagree, though I don't know that the greeting card could do anything with Disney's characters without permission. Say what we will about Disney, they are good at protecting their intellectual property--such as it is. :)

I agree about the sexuality part. I am as puzzled as you that sexuality has to be part of everything we consume in this country. But then again, I am puzzled everytime I read about one of those kiddy beauty pageants. What is that about?

I guess I think that patriarchy and femininity are part of it because our country's history is so divided on that. In fact, I think our entire discussion of family and women is informed (perhaps incorrectly) by the 1950s and the 19th century Victorian womanhood. Neither really reflects reality for most women, but they have become the guidelines. I have known women who were not given middle names because their name would be complete upon marriage. Given that mentality, and how sexualized adult life has become, then perhaps it is understandable that it has pervaded the kid culture. Not excusing it, mind you.

I guess I am suggesting that we are still divided and unclear on what we hope to accomplish with a lot of this. Add the capitalist/consumer variable, and you can get a lot of oddities.

Tony said...


I don't know that the greeting card could do anything with Disney's characters without permission.

You're Disney probably is the right culprit.

What I am looking at here is protecting my children from overt sexuality and expose them to it when I'm ready. It is though, next to impossible, when it is thrust in your face continually even at WalMart. What's a dad to do? Sigh.

Nevertheless, I would like to see some posts about your ideas on the Victorian ideals and the 1950's womanhood and how that relates to contemporary femininity. I think that would be beneficial to me, and would help sometimes in our conversations.

Oh yeah, did you hear where fashion designer Donatella Versace advised Hillary Clinton to ditch the trousers and start wearing skirts? You can read it here.