Is It Better To Be A Pixie Than A Princess?

Illustration for article titled Is It Better To Be A Pixie Than A Princess?

The oft-criticized Disney Princesses are big business for the Mouse Company, and an American childhood means being fluent in the language of castles, charming princes and "happily ever after." But the number one DVD on Amazon and Barnes & Noble right now is Tinker Bell, a movie about the fairy best known for her jealous, protective friendship with Peter Pan. But this new Tinker Bell is different from the old Tinker Bell — for one thing, she has a voice. And while she may not exactly be gainfully employed, unlike the Princesses, Tinker Bell has some kind of occupation: She fixes stuff.In addition, there's some diversity in Tinker Bell's world: While the most popular Disney Princesses are white (okay, okay, Jasmine's either Saudi Arabian or Iraqi; Mulan's Chinese), Tinker Bell totally has a black friend! Her name is Iridessa and she's organized and stubborn. Blogger Michelle Schwartz writes for Shameless, "A lot of little girls don’t want to sit around and wait for Prince Charming to marry them; they want to lead the adventure themselves, and fairies are nothing if not adventurous." And young girls seem to be ready for a more active, less passive Disney characters. American Public Media Marketplace interviewed 9-year-old Bennet Flemmingwood, who used to like Princesses and now is getting into fairies. She says of Princesses: "They weren't doing things for themselves, other people were doing it for them. Like Snow White, she wasn't as smart. You don't take food from strangers." As for fairies? "They're in nature and you don't have to be, like, watching a movie or like wear a fancy dress, they can be more personality and smart." Of course, Tinker Bell and her friends are still part of a corporate machine; their stories have little to do with the pre-Christian pixie myths from the UK areas of Devon and Cornwall. Michelle Schwartz of Shameless hopes that girls will also discover non-Disney "magical" female characters in books like Holly Black’s Ironside series and Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu. But in terms of role models, is Tinker Bell any better than the Disney Princesses? And how come there's no hugely popular female version of Harry Potter — a boy who is "magic" while having glasses and shaggy hair, like a real kid? Isn't Tinker Bell basically a blonde pin-up they've turned into a Bratz character?

Illustration for article titled Is It Better To Be A Pixie Than A Princess?

Fairies And Princesses And Pixies, Oh My! [Shameless] Tinker Bell Breaks Out On Her Own [American Public Media Marketplace]



When I was a child, I cared not for Tinkerbell or Wendy. I loved the mermaids, and they didn't get enough time.

None of the princesses were ever my "heros". Well, aside from Alice. But she wasn't really a princess. Just a girl I could relate to.