Reading into kid’s books (probably reading too much into them) I have found that it is very difficult to find books that represent women in a manner that I’m comfortable with, bar a solitary few. The Princesses are (mostly) waiting for a Prince/permission/their father’s decision/a fairy godmother etc – they are not the role models that I want my daughter to have at all! The witches, for the most part, are either good or evil – which is also represented by how they look; bad witches wear dark clothes, have grotesque features and are mean to kids while the good witches wear white, are classically beautiful and are the saviours of children! The wicked step-mothers and damsels in distress just add to my frustrations but thankfully I think that more and more parents are starting to see this as a problem and something that they DON’T want to become the norm.
Now don’t get me wrong… I have bought quite a few books that I really do like and that I think they instil the values that I want my daughter to have. Theonly problem with them is that they are all for older girls, while Jade is still at the stage where she likes books to rhyme, have bright vibrant pictures and strangely enough that they taste good!? (She’s constantly chewing on them!) Even Dora the Explorer and Doc McStuffins are just a little too advanced. Some of my biggest issues are with the Disney Princesses. Don’t get me wrong though… I still love the Disney stories, they all have lessons to be learned, and I like Brave, Mulan (especially the Chinese influences) and even Frozen has strong female characters. BUT… Last night I went on a bit of a rant about Ariel (the Little Mermaid in case you are unfamiliar!) I really liked the movie as a kid, I liked the songs and play them for my daughter pretty regularly, we even dance around the room to them! My wife and I bought Jade a helium balloon (it lasted 6 weeks by the way, which might actually be a record), anyway this balloon had the hour glass figure, the shell bikini and depicts a young girl who longs for a life that is massively different to her own. I turned to my wife, cue her rolling of the eyes and her “here he goes again” expression, and when I explained to her that I wasn’t happy with this Ariel lady as a role model, she told me (as she does quite a bit these days!) “it’s a cartoon, build a bridge and get over it!” I sat quietly on the sofa, having an internal huff when she says: “Ok, so you’re not happy with this, you’re not happy with that, you moan more than a woman (cue a wry smile from me) so do something about it. Write your own book!”
She thinks I won’t, but guess what? I’m writing a book! (cue another one of those wry smiles that I’m so very fond of! Ha-ha) I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks… I’ve no idea where to start but I’m sure I can figure it out!! Its definitely going to have to be about an independent female! WATCH THIS SPACE