Disney Princesses are missing a very important feature.
My four-year old daughter wears glasses.
She has two pairs – one neon pink pair, lurid and bright, the other more discreet, my favourite, that show off her big green eyes.
They have neat little cases with patterns of jellybeans printed on them and a teeny-tiny cleaning kit that she was given as a gift.
She is one of millions of children right through the world who wears glasses. No big deal, huh? Except she hates them, passionately, though without them she cannot see.
“Put your glasses on Emme,” I say for the twenty-fifth time each morning, exasperated at seeing them discarded on a bench. “You have to wear your glasses so you can see.”
“I don’t want to Mama. I hate them.”
She casts them aside the minute I am not looking. She hides them in her bed in the morning in the hopes I won’t find them.
She won’t. Won’t. WON’T.
They are “ugly”, “yucky”, “horrible”.
But she needs them desperately. Without them one of her eyes hardly functions at all leaving her in a hazy, under-sea world that she struggles to make sense of.
Her functioning eye does all the work so it has to be patched up to six hours a day to strengthen its impotent partner.
For my daughter, it’s a form of daily torture.
She walks into walls, door handles, tree branches, her world cut literally in two. But if she doesn’t do it she may have a permanent visual blindness.
So just wear your glasses. Put on your patch. She’ll be right. Right?
I wish it was.
My daughter is four, and like any four-year old girls her world is filled with pale blue polyester gowns and dreams of long flowing hair.
She twirls and primps and swirls her way around our home declaring she is Queen Elsa, Snow White, a Princess.
As much as I direct her towards the characters I think are great — what about Anna, how amazing is she? — she gravitates towards the tulle and the lace and the sparkly high heels.
She adores these fantasy women and wants to be them. Her dreams filled with castles and small friendly animals, her games of balls and princes and mermaid tails.
I don’t really mind. She’s four, after all.
But what breaks my heart is when our conversations go like this:
“Put your glasses on, Emme.”
“But I can’t Mama.”
“Because I am a princess and princesses don’t wear glasses.”
“Oh don’t be ridiculous,” I sputter. Of course they do. “Princesses are just like you. They wear glasses.”