There is an article in today's Daily Telegraph entitled 'Don't Let Your Daughter Become a Princess – Buy Her a Book', which points out the lack of strong female characters on children's television. Read the article
This reminded me of a part of Natasha Walter's Living Dolls which really struck me, and that I found sad - when she talks about how few female role models there in children's entertainment and gives startling statistics:
Many parents might note these sexy heroines [Disney's skintily clad princesses, Bratz etc] but assume that alongside them will still be a wealth of other female characters for our daughters to identify with, and indeed there are alternatives available if one seeks them out. But the clever, brave, physically unselfconscious heroines often require some effort to be found and celebrated, while the narrowness of much popular culture is increasingly obvious. For instance, take a look at these statistics, which I found frankly shocking. In the 101 top-grossing family films (films rated G in the US, where the research was carried out, the equivalent to our U certificate) from 1990 to 2004, of the over 4000 characters in these films 75 per cent overall were male, 83 per cent of characters in crowds were male, 83 per cent of narrators were male, and 72 per cent of speaking characters were male. In addition, there was little change from 1990 to 2004. When the American Psychological Association commented on this research, they said, 'This gross under-representation of women or girls in films with family-friendly content reflects a missed opportunity to present a broad spectrum of girls and women in roles that are non-sexualised.' In this context, in which there is such a narrow range of female characters to identify with, the visibility of sexy female heroines – such as the Bratz or the W.I.T.C.H. girls – has a disproportionate impact.
But, as the Telegraph points out, happily there are lots and lots of feisty, independent, adventurous heroines in children's literature. Who is your favourite?
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