Gorilla Girl’s cousin and aunt sent her a new favorite book for Valentine’s Day — it is called Enchanted Stables and it incorporates three princesses, Belle, Cinderella and Snow White, each in her own mad cap “adventure” involving a horse. I’ve been reading these stories each night to Gorilla Girl, who loves them, and who now has heard each story at least three times. And we are not finished yet.
Tonight’s story was about Belle (the princess of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) whose horse, Phillipe was suffering from a bout of depression. Belle’s reaction — fix it with food, because food fixes everything! And women who offer food as a way to fix depression can and will smooth over those rough edges. Sadly, Phillipe’s depression is so deep that even carrots or apples can’t coax him from his melancholy.
Belle takes action — she checks out books on horses from the library! What a fantastic idea. Props to Disney for inviting girls to find knowledge, answers and remedies in reading, and not just a few books. Belle checks out every book on horses in the library (oddly, there is no library in the castle, but no matter, at least there are still publicly funded libraries for those richies who are too cheap to buy books).
Belle is deep in her reading when Chip, Lumiere and Cogsworth arrive. They have ideas that might cheer up the gloomy and dispirited Phillipe. Belle abandons her books in favor of the suggestions; a bath (because when doesn’t a self-indulgent bubble bath not make one feel good?), redecoration of Phillipe’s stall (complete with throw pillows, a chandelier, and wall paper), music (a string quartet plays in the barn, for the pleasure of all). Feeling sad girls, deal with it by pampering yourself! Don’t attempt to find the root of the sadness.
Alas, the things that would make a girl forget her sadness don’t work for a horse, and Belle, in her anxiety over her friend’s state of mind, seeks advice from the prince. His suggestion, the horse just needs some exercise! Take him out for a good trot in the countryside.
Belle tries this last suggestion, and finally achieves success. However, it is not due solely to the prince’s suggestion. Phillipe was just lonely, and his dejected walk with Belle turns into a gallop when he spies a herd of wild horses in the clearing. Phillipe befriends one of the wild horses who follows Belle and Phillipe to the castle. As the story ends, we know that the stall will be redecorated again to suit the tastes of Phillipe’s new friend.
It’s not great literature, I know. It’s just a kid story. But why does it have to abandon the idea of research so quickly? Belle seems to have one good idea — read a book or two — but she gives up as soon as her trusty sidekicks show up with advice about pampering — bubble baths, redecorating and a night out for some music.
It is good to have friends who can offer suggestions, and even take you out for drinks and music when you are down. No doubt about it, friends make a difference. I suppose it is good that Disney isn’t suggesting drugs, alcohol or sexual adventure as a solution to depression — though, how far is it from self-indulgent pampering to any of those solutions?
Is Disney in cahoots with all those magazines that sell advice to women and girls?
Maybe I expect too much from princess stories.