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Samantha Turnbull Writer, mother, anti-princess

Rapunzel

The tangled web I wove

Elsagate reached its peak last week.

I was at the supermarket for no more than half an hour and counted FOUR pre-schoolers in sparkly blue lamé and cheap white mesh – AKA Elsa costumes.

I promised myself then and there that I would not be buying in. If my daughter must dress as Elsa at her pre-school costume party next month, her only hope would be for someone else to do the purchasing.*

I came home and told Libby about what I’d just witnessed.

‘That’s because everyone loves Elsa,’ she said.

‘Well, do you want to dress as Elsa because you love her?’ I asked. ‘Or because that’s what everyone else is doing?’

‘Both,’ she said, blurring the lines between the right and wrong answer.

It was time for a change of tack.

I’ve been reading a lot of original fairytales lately. The kind that actually aren’t suitable for little kids because they’re full of gore and sex, but the kind that are actually the basis for modern, dumbed-down adaptations.

And it gave me an idea.

‘Guess what Lib,’ I said. ‘Before Frozen, there was this story called The Snow Queen.’

Her ears pricked up.

‘The people who made Frozen actually just copied The Snow Queen,’ I said. ‘Maybe we could look up some pictures of the original Snow Queen and copy her costume.’

It was enough to get Libby over to my iPad for some ‘research.’

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

But, somewhere, in the midst of fairytale get-ups, we stumbled upon a picture of Rapunzel.

‘Ooooooh, Rapunzel,’ Libby cooed. ‘I could go as Rapunzel from Tangled.’

In a moment of haste, I seized the opportunity to divert her from Elsa and pressed ‘buy now’ under the image of the Rapunzel costume.

Then, I slapped myself in the forehead. Again and again.

What sort of anti-princess mum was I to simply switch one dodgy Disney costume for another?

The dress arrived in the mail in all its sparkly, polyester glory.

Libby tried it on. She looked cute. Gorgeous.

Yet a little part of my heart sunk. The way it does when you lose a moral battle of any kind. The way it does when you decide sticking to your principles is pointless. It’s the way ‘giving up’ feels.

Then, out of the blue, Libby told me that while she loved the Rapunzel costume, she didn’t want to wear it to her pre-school party.

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘What do you want to be then?’

I crossed my fingers thinking ‘please don’t say Elsa.’

And, she said…

‘I’d like to go as a boxtroll.’

I’d taken her to see The Boxtrolls last week. It was her first movie at the cinema.

This is what boxtrolls look like:

Boxtrolls

Boxtrolls

‘That could be cool,’ I said. ‘But why do you want to be a boxtroll?’

She surprised me with her carefully considered answer.

‘They were friendly,’ she said. ‘And it would be easy to make a boxtroll costume. All you need is a box and some face paint.’

That a girl.

*Note to Libby’s grandparents, aunts and uncles – don’t take this as an invitation to buy her an Elsa costume please!?

4 responses to “The tangled web I wove”

  1. Renee Wilson says:

    What a darling. I bet you were filled with pride with that answer. She does look like the most gorgeous wee thing in that Rapunzel outfit though. I don’t mind that my four year old wants to wear a princess outfit everyday. I do mind when she says things like ‘Octonauts are for boys’. I tell her that Octonauts are for boys and girls. I continually tell her that girls can do anything. My husband reinforces this too and him taking the girls rock climbing each week is a great way to get them out of their comfort zone and doing something that is not sterotypically girly.

  2. Zanni Louise says:

    Oh I loved this Sam! We have never seen Frozen, yet Elka frequently sings “Let It Go!” as she hears it at preschool, and talks about how much she loves Elsa. Wow. It’s penetrated that deeply. Clever Disney.
    I love the original fairy tales. Have you heard the Kate Forsyth talks about the origins? The one about Rapunzel is really interesting. She was totally the hero in that story, and Tangled basically lowered the stakes, and made an amazing story boring. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/once-upon-a-time-fairytales-reimagined/5461294

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