Instagram Ever After

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

*Thankful Friday is now THANKFUL THURSDAY! A shift in my writing schedule and a bit more alliteration...what more could you ask for?

Having two daughters, one is quickly forced to decide which camp to join: those who embrace princesses; or, those who do not. It's true. You can either look Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Tiana, Snow White, Aurora, Rapunzel and Tinker Bell (who, really, let's be honest, is an "Honorable Mention" at best) in the eye and turn your back on all that is pink and glittery...or, you can choose to accept them with open arms...doe eyes and all.

Yes, I'm afraid the Pardy home has slowly but surely come to be taken over by all that is frilly and fair. Sure, it started off innocently enough...Matilda got sick at the same time that Beauty and the Beast came on the Disney Channel that night. Tangled just happened to be on sale around her birthday. But, now, well...tutus have started to outnumber crayons in our house. Tiaras are starting to look "normal" with pajamas. And I'll admit I was a little excited myself when our neighbors let us borrow their copy of Cinderella. (She really is lovely).

Ah, fairytales. That's right, I'm thankful for fairytales!

When I was growing up, I was all about it. I loved everything girly, princessy, showy, romantic, pink, glittery - you name it. I loved it. I could not get enough. I had the Barbie dreamhouse and car and everything. I watched The Little Mermaid until I knew it by heart. I dreamt of my Prince Charming and planned my wedding and named our babies and absolutely, completely, never worried about wrinkles or mortgages or being disappointed. I was pretty sure I would grow up to look just like Malibu Barbie, knew I would marry a Prince Eric, and certain that I would have children more adorable than any animation could attempt (hey, two outta three ain't bad?).

We young and crazy Instagramming parents want
to filter our reality through our nostalgia.
Then, of course, I grew up and got a dose of "reality". I was told somewhere along the way that I should lower my expectations and gauge my optimism. I was reminded that marriage was "work" and life was full of tough choices (and it wasn't choosing between my voice or my legs, a la Ariel style). That if I didn't hunker down and put my nose to the grindstone, that if I didn't stick with something I didn't like, that if I didn't feel the friction against the life that I really wanted then I was expecting too much and setting myself up for heartache. I could have it all, just not all at once. I could achieve great things, just not yet maybe. "See the forest for the trees," they might say, while handing me another self-help book on how to deal with depression. Yikes.

Women in my peer group have been greatly forewarned about exposing their daughters to fairytales. We've been told how Barbie is a horrible example of self-image and that Prince Charming is unattainable. We've been plagued with the idea that filling our child's head with images and dreams of the perfect life will only set her up for constant disappointment and heartache... So, why do I still get giddy at the thought of seeing Cinderella again? Why do I giggle at Matilda in a tutu and tiara? And why does she innately just love love love it so much?

We love fairytales. Just admit it. And if you can't, then I'm about to burst your hipster-bubble. Instagram is the new Cinderella. And we L-O-V-E it.

For those few out there (Hi, Mom!) who might not be familiar with Instagram or apps like it, here ya go: it's an app that let's us smartphone-savvy-young-hipster-type-kids take our little phone pics and then filter them to look slick and cool. Usually with an "oh, that looks just like when your father took that picture of you and our now-dead-dog Coco in the backyard with the old Polaroid" effect on it. Something old is new again. It also makes non-photographer-types, like myself, feel like we can post a photo on Facebook that is worthy of acknowledgement. Also- pretty much any pic you see on this blog has been Instagrammed. So there, now you know.


Instagram is a total illusion. It can turn a simple trip to Starbucks with a screaming toddler look like the coolest, most chill, sweetest little afternoon outing known to man. It can make someone's weekend away with kids that never slept appear to be the brochure-like escapade you've been wishing for. We're all just a couple Instagrammed photos away from wanting someone else's life. Someone else's fairytale.

We browse through Facebook or Twitter, letting our eye catch on the latest Nashville'd or Earlybird'd or (my personal favorite) Hefe'd photo and want to see what that person has been up to - and how can we be more like them? It stirs in us a motivation, a creative knack, perhaps, at times, the occasional longing for more. But, not unreasonably. No, no. Before you start getting the notion that I'm down on Instagram - remember...I'm all for princesses!

Embrace the illusion, people. The world is bad enough.

We young and crazy Instagramming parents want to filter our reality through our nostalgia. I want my daughter to keep her expectations high! I want her to wait for her Prince Charming!

In a world full of Lindsay Lohans, Kim Kardashians, and an actual human being who goes by the singular name "Snookie"...I think we could use a bit of raising the bar around here. In a world where genocide, nuclear war, and who is winning The Voice are all on the same news broadcast (seriously?) I think we can let down our guard when it comes to allowing our little girls to be (I'll say it!) little girls! Yay!

Sure, there will come a time (hopefully gradually) when the truth of the world around us will be exposed and my perpetually cheerful child will start to see the cracks in her once-ideal view of the world. I'm sure somewhere along the way she will begin to realize that a tutu does, in fact, not go with every outfit. I'm certain that one day she will not be swayed into using the potty based on the character printed on her underwear. And I'm unfortunately confident that she will figure out the difference between cartoon-perfect endings and the fact that most likely several of her future friends will come from broken homes.

But, I'm in no rush to get to "reality". I'm just hoping to help her change it a little bit before she gets there.

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