Saturday, September 21, 2013

So Much More Than An App: My Disney Princess Royal Salon Review

We received a review copy of the new Disney Royal Princess Salon app to try out and give our thoughts, and Oh boy, this was a tough one. But more on that in a bit.

Overall, my girls liked the app, which normally retails for $4.99 in the App Store. Just be forewarned you have to have a 4S or newer before you can play. 

It has the standard dress-up/makeover features you'll find with similar apps: comb and style hair, add accessories, pick out dresses- all some pretty cool features that make these games a lot of fun. But one thing I haven't seen yet that I see with this game is that it also allows you to add an image from anything around you to "color" or "pattern" the princess' dresses with the camera.

So back to my reasons...

Anyone who knows me knows how I generally feel about Walt Disney's "tradition" as it pertains to the lovely, popular, mostly homogenous-looking line of princesses. And no, the bucket of stereotypes that is Tiana doesn't even begin to address that in my book. (I won't even touch on the messages that come across loud and clear in each love story).

Unfortunately, this tradition carries over into this otherwise really great app and I just can't allow it through the "Healthy Mind and Body" filter I've worked so hard to construct for them.

To be fair, this isn't the only app or game I've run across that shares this same issue, and I have equally edged the others out, as well. It's just so hard to believe that people today still haven't gotten the Diversity Memo. (Diversity Sells!, Diversity is Popular!, Diversity creates a healthy society!)

In a near-depressing world shortage of positive, powerful, diverse images for young, African-American girls, I find myself constantly on the lookout, constantly having to dig and dig through library stacks and screen movies, cartoons, and games to find material suitable for counterbalancing all the other images they are bombarded with in certain situations and out in the world. 

I say "certain situations" because the TV generally remains off in our house and we carefully screen computer games, thereby limiting their exposure to a lot of potentially negative content. 

Remembering my experience growing up seeing almost no one like myself doing anything of value on any screen anywhere- at least not overwhelmingly so- I know too well the feeling of being devalued by your own society merely through images, or lack of images, alone. 

What would we be if we didn't learn from our experiences and let those things be a benefit for others? 

My experiences created an awareness in me of just how powerful images can be, allowed me to see how I can and should move forward with my own children to turn it around, and made it clear to me that as parents and part of a dying "village", we can't ever be too careful with these young, impressionable minds. And that, as a homeschooler, is exactly what I'm shaping here as I actively choose to select "delete".

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