Before my daughter Merida’s accident, I might have (hyperbolically) called what happened today my worst nightmare: Shopping at Target, I asked her which underwear she wanted to choose. While I suggested Hello Kitty or Paul Frank monkeys, she grabbed the Disney Princesses. I suggested several other options (“Look honey, these have the days of the week!”) but she was certain of what she wanted. I bought them.
All her life, my husband and I have worked to keep her away from TV and mainstream junk. I know, everyone says the Pixar movies are great, and I have seen a couple of them (not bad) but Merida thinks movies are the things we watch on youtube, most often short videos of the band Hot Club of Cowtown, or Mark Bittman cooking.
But next year, Disney/Pixar will release a film called “Brave“. The heroine is named Princess Merida. Princess Merida! When I first found out about this last spring, I was horrified. How dare they steal my child’s name?! And how badly will they mispronounce it, adding to the confusion we already face each visit to the pediatrician’s office, when she’s called “Muhr-Ida” and other versions that are not her name.
Then came the accident. Through the entire process, and still, my Merida has been unbelievably brave and strong. A little warrior, future slayer. (I’ve always wanted to raise a slayer, but that’s another story.) Swirled in now with all the ambivalence I have about Disney and skewed, commercial images of what girls and women should be, I am now, strangely, okay with the naming of next summer’s princess. I’ll take it! If it gives my daughter a little pop culture validation that she is awesome and strong and amazing, who am I to argue? I told Merida and a friend of hers about the movie, and was quickly convinced to take them both to the theatre next summer. (It’s a date! Robbie Coltrane does one of the voices, so it can’t be all bad.)
But next time she’s getting the monkey underwear.