The Cinderella Conspiracy: Sibling Rivalry, Disney Style

    I have three girls. The older two are quite enamored with Disney princesses. My eight-year-old has stunning red hair. Not surprisingly, her favorite Disney princess is Ariel and has been since she was about eighteen months old. My four-year-old has light blonde hair, pale skin, and blue eyes. Her favorite princess is Tiana. Go figure. But while my daughters’ favorite princesses might be somewhat everyday, I never expected one of them would develop a complete and utter loathing for a different Disney princess.

    The eight-year-old redhead hates Cinderella. No, hate is not too strong of a word. She can’t stand the poor princess (who, as far I can tell has done nothing to her.) At first, I assumed my daughter had some latent pumpkin aversion. Or, perhaps she was terrified of talking mice. Maybe the thought of wearing a glass slipper brought grisly images of glass shards and emergency rooms and long handled tweezers wielded by doctors with shaky hands. Or it could be she just couldn’t stand someone who sang while she scrubbed the floor by hand. While all of these might be entirely valid reasons to dislike Cinderella, none of them ended up being the true reason Cinderella was despised.

    I finally asked her why she didn’t like Cinderella. Her response? “It’s just so unfair. She steals all the attention away from Ariel!” Now, I did mention my four-year-old has blonde hair and blue eyes, didn’t I? It doesn’t take Freud to interpret this little statement. My redhead feels as though her blonde haired sister is getting more attention than she is. And she’s taking out her frustrations on poor, orphaned Cinderella.

    The older daughter has taken this feeling to an extreme at times. She popped the head off of her Cinderella Barbie. And cackled manically while doing so. She ripped apart the Cinderella sticker that came in the princess assortment. She tore the first few pages of the Cinderella story out of a compilation of Disney princess tales. And, perhaps worst of all, she has taught her younger sister to despise Cinderella as much as she does. In a sick and twisted way, she’s almost teaching her sister to hate herself.

    In a moment of hero worship for her older silbing, my four-year-old proclaimed, “I don’t like Cinderella because {eight-year-old sister} doesn’t like her.” She then proceeded to put the Cinderella paper doll back in the box and play with another one so the eight-year-old wouldn’t find her playing with the offending princess. I’ve told the four-year-old she should just like whichever princess she likes and not worry about what her sister says. I’m hoping she’ll someday stand up to her older sister and proclaim, “Cinderella is my second-favorite princess!” (Yes, our family has highly intellectual discussions about which princess is our first, second and so on favorite.) I have told the eight-year-old I don’t appreciate her trying to poison her sister’s mind with a dislike of Cinderella. But then she elaborated on her position, and I almost think I agree with her.

    She said in every single picture where there is more than one Disney princess, Cinderella is almost certain to be one of those princesses. She’s right, actually; there might be a Cinderella Conspiracy going on that none of us are even aware of. (Gasp!) Go to any discount or big box store and peruse the aisles for Disney princesses. (You can go now. I’ll just wait here until you get back.) After you’ve found all sorts of products, from shoes, to backpacks, to bedding, to clothing, to posters, to dinnerware, to toys, and even food with princesses on them, tally up the number that had Cinderella on them. Nearly all of them do. Now see how many of them had Ariel included. The number drops dramatically. Cinderella is almost always there. And she’s usually in a place of prominence, front and center. You’ll find two, sometimes three princesses who accompany Cinderella– and they’ll vary across the princess spectrum–but Cinderella is always there. Why?

    Why is Cinderella the favored princess, at least judging by how often she is placed in a princess group? Was she the first Disney princess? Nope, that was Snow White. Is she the princess with the latest movie? No, that would be Merida. Obviously, Cinderella sells. Otherwise, Disney wouldn’t put her in a position of importance time and time again. So why are we all captivated Cinderella?

    Perhaps we all love her rags to riches story. Though she isn’t the only Disney princess who married up, so to speak, she is one of the few. Perhaps we all think her look– blue eyes, blonde hair, fair skin–is the standard for beauty. Or maybe, we all want our fairy godmothers to swoop in and change our lives without putting forth any effort. Whatever the reason, Cinderella is queen of Disney’s royal cotillion. She seems to be the quintessential princess. Probably the princess you think of first.

    Am I trying to create a rebellion? Suggesting we all petition Disney for equal representation of every princess? No. Though my redhead would be the first, and loudest, protestor. I’m simply pointing out, my eight-year-old has a point. One I hadn’t noticed until she brought it to my attention. And she does get plenty of my attention, though her Cinderella hatred may say otherwise. No, the Cinderella conspiracy is more about listening to your kids, finding out what’s really going on inside that beautiful little head, asking questions when you don’t understand, and sympathizing where applicable. I have told my eight-year-old I think it’s unfair Cinderella is always pictured while Ariel is not, at least not nearly as often. I’ve also tried to give her extra hugs, extra one-one-one, and an extra listening ear so she doesn’t feel like the attention is all going to her little sisters. Has it helped quell her abhorrence of Cinderella? Judging by the Cinderella Barbie I had fixed whom she has once again decapitated, probably not.

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One thought on “The Cinderella Conspiracy: Sibling Rivalry, Disney Style

  1. Pingback: Cinderella As a Vampire, Aliens, and Sibling Rivalry | Wootton Wonders and Woes

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