My heart was bursting the way only parents’ hearts burst. I said, “Nooooo, what time is it?” Then she ran up and said, “look, its seventeen o’clock.” When I looked, Cinderalla jumped off the watch face and slapped me in my eye. I felt like a conservative middle aged white woman must feel if Rza from the Wu-Tang Clan suddenly jumped in her window while she was eating dinner. I smiled – deflated. “Nice, but I think it is 12:30.”
I cannot stand the blistering intensity with which the images of these white princesses are pushed upon everyone. Seeing Cinderella on my girl’s wrist was like poison. I call my daughter Rasta. “Rasta, who loves you?” “Daddy does,” she answers. Behind that, in my mind, are the images of strength and beauty and grace and femininity that are embodied by Rastafarian women in particular and black women in general. There could be nothing more antithetical to that image and my image of my little girl than Cinderella and her crew. More broadly, it really upsets me and simply hurts that the images of white girls, royalty and beauty are all inextricably bound together and injected into all little girls heads. My wife and I feel like guards protecting the clean and impressionable space in her psyche from that biased and exclusive imagery. For the little while that it lasted, it burned me that Cinderella was marching around on my girl’s wrist.
Needless to say, the watch came off at the first opportunity where I could do it peacefully. “You can’t bathe with the watch on ole girl.” At every conceivable opportunity after that, she asked if she could put it on. At every opportunity I said no and then had to withstand a slew of why’s. I just kept saying because I don’t like it. She pleaded, “but Daddy she’s not wearing pink.” Herein lies the challenge. I don’t want to address the issue directly because I’m not sure you can explain these reasons to a three year old. I also do not want her to develop, as my wife said, a chip on her shoulder. It isn’t that we fail to see the beauty in white dolls, little white girls or Cinderella for that matter. We simply want her to develop an appreciation for beauty that is as nuanced, various and personal as beauty itself is. The Cinderella cocktail is an expanding poison that sucks out the space for alternative images of beauty -for all little girls. Whenever do you see a little white girl wearing a t-shirt with a black girl on it thinking that the girl on her shirt is beautiful?
The onslaught has backed us into a corner. It has forced me to resist these images in ways that I find uncomfortable. I don’t want to deny my little girl party favors – that is almost cruel. The intensity of the siege, however, has dictated the intensity of our resistance. To the extent that we can provide a variety of images of beauty we will. That variety will include Cinderella and her ilk, but they will be just one of a number of images of beauty and of royalty and of femininity. Even then, while her development is still delicate, my Rasta will never wear Cinderella.