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Disney Promotes Blond Favoritism

Posted by on June 29, 2011

We were out buying a birthday present for one of my toddler’s friends and on the way to our car we got caught in a torrential downpour. In under 30 seconds we were completely soaked. After buckling us both in I headed for home. While stopped at a traffic light I caught Sienna’s face in the rear view mirror and she said, “Mommyyyyyyy! Now I look like you. My hair is BLACK!!” Not at all trying to hide her disdain.

I reassured her, “Yup. But that’s okay Boo, it’ll dry and be lighter again.”

“No! I want it to be YELLOW!!! I want you to blow dry it when we get home.” She said, heartbroken.

Her hair is far from yellow, it’s light brown. And I rarely use a blow dryer on it, mainly because she doesn’t like it. “What?! …you really want me to dry it for you?”

“Yes. Please!!!” She pleaded. Desperate to change it back.

What popped into my head was the film “Tangled”. In the last scene Rapunzel’s magic golden hair is snipped and all of the magic is drained away…leaving her hair DARK BROWN (my daughter calls this “black”). The message is clear: blond hair contains magic, brown hair is dull and, of course, lacking any special powers at all whatsoever.

Okay, so maybe you think this is a stretch. But is it? Three year olds can be quite literal.

Rapunzel's "mother" lovingly strokes her magical blond hair

We’ve talked about the movie and how it’s just a story and not real. But what is real is the fact that nearly all the Disney characters she loves are blond or platinum blond. I love Tinkerbell’s can do attitude, she’s very modern and certainly a leader who’s not looking for her prince. So her blond hair seems  more  incidental than the others that my daughter is drawn to. Though if Tink happened to have been created as a brunette she may have been perceived by little girls as less feminine somehow and more of what she really is: an incredibly capable tomboy – God forbid. When asked who her favorite princess was the other day my daughter responded, “Tinkerbell.” (An answer that made me quite happy due to the aforementioned capabilities.) She later admitted that Tinkerbell is not really a princess. So I’m guessing that Tink’s blond hair encouraged my daughter  recall her as  princess-like when she was put on the spot.

Disney's Tinkerbell: the independent blond

In some of her hand-me-down Disney books given to us by her cousins, I’ve noticed that Cinderella starts out with mousy brown hair but when she’s transformed into a princess her hair becomes significantly lighter and less natural looking. She reminds me of Marilyn Monroe from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Though historically, it’s more likely that Marilyn borrowed Cinderella’s look. “Cinderella” was produced in 1950 and “Gentlemen Prefer Blonde’s” came out in 1953.

Disney's Cinderella: before transforming into a blond princess


Disney's Cinderella: had mousy brown hair prior to becoming a princess


Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


Disney's Sleeping Beauty: waiting for her prince to kiss her


I realize that some of this could just be my daughter’s natural affinity for blondes. But I do find it coincidental that this brunettist behavior started after we saw “Tangled”. What do you think?

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