Princess dreams

When I was a little girl, everyone had a favorite Disney princess. I guess it was kind of an elementary school girls’ version of the Sex and the City game: are you a Carrie or a Samantha? Are you a Cinderella or a Belle? (I was a total Snow White, but longed to be Ariel.)

True story: when I was in fifth grade, I came home from school crying to my mom because a boy I had the biggest crush on had looked at me in class and said, “Uh. You look like Snow White.” My mom was baffled. “Snow White is beautiful!” she said. “No she’s not,” I wailed. “She’s not one of the hot princesses like Cinderella!” HA. I die at this story now.

My point is, Disney princesses were a quintessential part of childhood. And it’s not like they were a new fad. Snow White had been holding steady since, what? The 1930s? But I’ve noticed that now, it seems almost politically incorrect to love the princesses, or to introduce them to a new generation of girls. I don’t think the three-year-old girl I babysit has ever seen Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella or Jasmine onscreen (she still wants to be a princess, though — the phase is just inevitable).

How can this not make you happy? Look at Sebastian!

I was recently hanging out with a group of women, some I knew from college and some I had just met. I knew the room was on the feminist side (as am I), but I still floated out there my love of Ariel and the magical experience of seeing The Little Mermaid on Broadway – in my twenties. Everyone was on board and immediately started sharing their own childhood connections with the princesses. One woman even said her interest in becoming an archivist stemmed partly from Ariel’s collections in the movie; it made that much of an impact on her as a child. How cool is that?

get the concept of not wanting little girls to think they’re helpless creatures who need a handsome prince to rescue them. But the thing is…who thinks that? None of us remembered thinking, “Well, guess I don’t need to work hard or apply myself in school because a gallant gentleman is ultimately going to come along and provide for me” (and honestly, even if you did think that, wouldn’t the notion be pretty well crushed the second you actually started dating?).

Girls have – or should have – so many other influences in their lives, I find it doubtful that their lifelong values will be based on a princess movie. And if a girl wants to grow up to be a princess when she’s three, so what? If she wants that when she’s twenty-three, well, there are some bigger issues there that probably can’t be blamed on Disney.

What do you think – did you have a favorite Disney princess? Do you think they’re a bad influence on girls?

Scare tactics

I have a serious bone to pick with my local newspaper. Yesterday, I went to their website like I do most days to check out, you know, the local news.

I was met with this headline: “Broadway closed over bomb threat.”

Broadway is a main road in my city’s downtown that houses several government buildings. The article stated that there was a suspicious package found “near the federal courthouse” and that the situation was being investigated.

Now, generally I’m more paranoid than anyone when it comes to things like this. Still, something told me to be skeptical…

And yeah, here’s what actually happened: the fire department responded to that area for an unrelated matter. At that time, someone notified a firefighter of a duffel bag sitting near a dumpster on a tiny little alley/street off Broadway that contains a few small lunch restaurants. Firefighters and police, as a precaution, shut down a small area around Broadway while they checked it out, and the whole situation was resolved in an hour.

                                                                             (source)

At no point was there a bomb threat. Let’s just go ahead and define the term here since the journalists and editors at the area’s largest newspaper are apparently unfamiliar with it. A bomb threat is defined as “a threat, usually verbal or written, to detonate an explosive or incendiary device to cause property damage, death, or injuries, whether or not such a device actually exists” (from Wikipedia; I found the same definition on several state and city law enforcement websites).

THIS DID NOT HAPPEN. A duffel bag was found by a dumpster. At no point was there a threat made or a mention of a bomb by anyone.

I’m not saying the person who reported it was wrong to do so, or that the police and fire departments were wrong to investigate it – of course not. It’s obviously better to be safe than sorry. They all did the right thing.

It’s the newspaper that did the wrong thing. They resorted to pathetic scare tactics – not to mention complete inaccuracy – to get clicks on their website. I don’t know which is worse – the thought that whoever wrote and approved that story actually do not know what a bomb threat is, or that they purposely misused the term to make a mundane story sound salacious.

I also love how they jumped to describe the package as “near the federal courthouse,” implying a would-be target, when – as I described above – it was actually found on a little alley of eateries. Yes, technically that alley is near the courthouse, but had it been an actual bomb, it would have been more likely to take out my favorite panini place.

This makes me angry for so many reasons. We have enough to be scared about in this world; we read about enough heinous things happening in this country on a daily basis – we don’t need to manufacture things to worry people. Beyond that, if every minute (non)incident is reported as though we just narrowly avoided a terrorist attack, it dilutes the impact if there is ever an actual threat. And furthermore, this kind of coverage may discourage people from reporting things that feel suspicious to them.

Like I said, I don’t think the person who reported this was wrong – in all likelihood, they said to the firefighter, “hey, there’s a bag over there that you might want to check out.” But if you know saying something like that will result in a bomb threat being reported to the entire city, you might think twice. And you shouldn’t have to – you should be able to voice your concern if something feels off to you and trust that it will be checked out – not sensationalized by the media.

Whew, I guess I just really needed to rant about that one. How about you — do you get frustrated when the media blows things out of proportion?

Breaking the (blogging) seal

I haven’t blogged in a long time, which is lame. The truth is, I’ve kind of been overwhelmed with experiences lately. In a good way. I’ve gotten the chance to do so many awesome things in the past month or so, and it’s been so refreshing, I just didn’t take the time to stop and write about it. And even when I did stop, I didn’t know where to begin.

One thing I had to make peace with when I started blogging was the fact that every post isn’t going to be the deepest or funniest or best thing I’ve ever written. That was hard for me. That’s probably why I didn’t start blogging for such a long time. I never wanted to put anything out there unless it was perfect, unless it was done.

Obviously, you can’t do that with a blog. You just have to put it out there. Otherwise my blog would consist of one post. That I would be forever editing.

If only I had found this motto sooner (source)

But even though I said I made peace with that, it’s more of an ongoing acceptance issue. And the longer I go without blogging, the more I judge everything I write and the more hesitant I become to post anything at all.

It’s kind of like working out – you know how you can work out religiously for months, but then one day you decide that sitting on your couch drinking seasonal beer and watching The Office is way more pressing, and it’s all downhill from there?

And every day you say to yourself, Just go for a quick run. It’s no big deal. It’ll take half an hour, then you’ll be done. You’ll feel so much better! You’re already wearing sweatpants! But you don’t go. And every day that you don’t go, it seems less and less likely that you’ll ever go again.

But then one day, suddenly, you break the seal and just do it and then you’re right back to your good habits. So this is me posting something — to break the blogging seal.

Just write. Half an hour, and you’re done. You’ll feel so much better. You’re already wearing sweatpants!