Paris Hilton, Tinkerbell and Girl Bratz as a Role Model
Tinkerbell has come a long way from the light reflected with a mirror in the original J.M. Barrie play of Peter Pan, back in 1904 — l argely through being part of the Disney stable of ideals for young girls. I remember, even though I have always been a lover of personal expression through the visual arts, being asked, as early as the second or third grade, to draw a princess.
Like I could do one like you saw in the art museum.
My well-meaning teacher told me to draw the kind of princess I wanted to be.
I already knew that somehow I was going to end up working for a living.
“Draw something from Disney,” she said, or something to that effect. Fast forward to a certain Southern California clinic which will remain nameless. They had the good sense to hire me to consult (meaning — clean up their mess and get them back on track). A nurse who, like many nurses in many similar clinics, was convinced that her agenda was more important than mine just happened to be wearing (under her scrubs) a Tinkerbell T-shirt. She is explaining to me things I do not need nor want to hear. This is, alas, typical nursing behavior. People do not understand what Tinkerbell stands for. She is a brat. She is powerful. Not just the kind of power that comes from flying and using fairy dust. She is a brat who knows how to get her own way.
In this case, she is another nurse who should have gone to medical school instead. It is no accident that one of Paris Hilton’s cutesy little purse-size barfy dogs is called “Tinkerbell.” There is a message here about power.
No you do not need a Wikipedia article to know about Paris Hilton. I have heard of preadolescent girls who claim they “love” her, of names coined to describe what she is, and I hear entirely too much press coverage of what a “bad girl” she is. She is our brat made heroine. Our living Tinkerbell.
First, let it be known there are parents who do not like Tinkerbell. And it is true that you can go all the way back to the original material, the 1904 play, and find out that she tried to kill Wendy a couple of times. I have the feeling I have fallen upon some kind of Jungian archetype, Some kind of mythologized ideal that people love to love. I do remember it being singularly power-less, being a little girl. This seems to be a fantasy people hitch on to. Whether your magic is magic (like Tinkerbell) or relatively real (like the unimaginable wealth of Paris Hilton) there are some people in many places, mostly female, who can’t hear enough about beautiful little girls behaving badly. Everybody agrees Paris is attractive by current standards. She is thin and blonde — that’s about all it takes today (and can be accomplished by surgery and bleach). Tinkerbell, drawn by the Disney staff, has that same exaggerated hour glass figure that got Barbie into trouble once when some claimed that her figure represented an unreachable ideal that could encourage young girls into eating disorders.
Tink (if you will excuse the familiarity) was designed to fit the commonly accepted standards of “cute.” But neither Paris nor Tinkerbell has the body of a prepubertal girl.
The Bratz have been controversial too.
Both the Bratz and Tinkerbell, I think were intended to be little girls. Characteres are usually formed to be similar to the target audience for the movie or toy.
But if we are looking at a Jungian archetype here, we are looking at the early borderline personality disorder. Yes, there was even an Urban Legend that Tinkerbell was copied at least in part from the body of Marilyn Monroe, that well known borderline personality disorder.
Borderline personality disorder is a mental disorder with criteria and presumed treatment, but it is also the stuff that fantasies are made of. Pretty much all of the great heroines of history and fantasy and fiction fit the criteria for this disorder.
I once actually tried to look and this is all I found. Perhaps the archetype of modern times is Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, who is of course drop-dead gorgeous (they all are, evidence perhaps of a Creator’s sense of humor). Borderlines are remarkably unstable in terms of emotions and relationships and can render even the most confident heterosexual male into just so large a bowl of helpless Jello. The borderline is a person who threatens suicide if she can’t get her way, throws tantrums (and perhaps plates and vases) when angry — and then breaks down crying and begging forgiveness and one more chance.
For example, Mme. Bovary has one lover with her and is waiting for the arrival of another and says she feels lonely and empty. I mean, only a borderline personality disorder could come up with that one. The story by Gustave Flaubert is as fresh and real today as ever.
If you have any doubts, Woody Allen, in his wonderful short story “the Kugelmass Episode,” took Emma Bovary out of the book and brought her to modern New York City, where she seems to waste no time getting a cute black velvet pantsuit at Bergdorf Goodman and taking acting lessons. I have always respected Woody, who must have read everything ever written. Borderline personality disorders (99.9% are women) do not generally tell the truth. Let’s face it, Tinkerbell does not exactly have a growing nose like Pinocchio. And as for the self-contradictory nature of Paris Hilton’s interviews, let us say simply that the links are too many for me to list. Many men have been seduced by wildly attractive women who withhold and then occasionally distribute their favors according to an agenda that defies description, then always seem to get their way, even though they seem so fickle it may be impossible to determine what their way IS until it has already changed.
Whether opera or the movies, these seem to be the people we choose for our heroines. Women want to be them. Men want to have them. Whether they are John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe or one of my male patients who had a woman prostitute steal his money and drivers’ license. The looks and the lies seem to do it, and they do it well, generation after generation. I saw a study long ago that suggested this was a hereditary disorder. I have certainly known enough mothers and daughters who fit the criteria so that I can believe this. I can also believe the reputed frequency, about one in three daughters having this strange entity. Rarely, I have seen it in males. More often, males who do not often tell the truth seem to be criminals of some sort (Anti-social personality disorder and/or Narcissistic). But these women are infuriating, and I have dealt with many. For me, obviously the physical attractiveness part means little, and yet they tend to bat their eyelashes and play coy — as if to bring out a mothering instinct in me. In Paris, I see an icon of many, who is not known for integrity and who seems to get away with behavior such as drug use — which I would not recommend to anybody. Yes, it bothers me that little girls “like” or even envy her.
Me, I look at her and think, with that kind of money and power, she could embrace causes. She could push social change. I think of examples such as Paul McCartney and what he has done for vegetarianism. The best message I have for worried parents is that liking Paris or Tinkerbell does not necessarily mean their little girls would turn out that way. We suspect and have somewhat proven that personality disorders are largely genetic. No, we don’t really want to value these ideals. But few girls get what I got — a mother who told me once when I was attempting to put on make-up that I would never get by on my looks, so I ought to concentrate on studying. What mother values in the home may be more likely to stick than what is seen or wished for on the silver screen. Most girls are more concerned about low self-esteem in the competitive heap. I do not think there are a lot getting into trouble by pretending to be Paris Hilton, but I really don’t know. The question is — Mothers, what are you telling your daughters? Spend enough time with them to tell them something, and make it as good as you can, because they will remember.