DD is 4 and pretty into the Disney princesses and we are heading to DW on Saturday, but I also have a love/hate relationship with Disney.
DD never had character clothing as a baby and learned about Disney princesses in preschool (started around 3) and she started learning about them from her peers, she actually knew the names of the princesses and could ID them without having even seen the movies (she does this now with Hannah Montana
) so when she started getting into it, I allowed her to do so. I agree with what PPs have said about the movies, some are good, some are just weird (pinocchio, so bizarre) we do love the Pixar films, but we do draw the line and try to teach DD to be critical of some things, not so much the messages in the movies at her age, but the merchandising, definitely. I have explained to her that no, she cannot have that Disney item because it is low quality and she gets that. She did not fight me on getting a Disney backpack for school because I showed her how the zippers snapped off her old one and how poorly made it was. We also refuse to buy or rent any of those straight-to-dvd craptastic sequels to the original movies.
Once DD got into the Disney characters/movies, I did buy some character clothes, mainly pjs or underwear. At that point I noticed that the clothing is often low quality (bought some Disney princess underwear, terrible!) AND how gendered the clothing always is. DD loved "Cars" as a toddler, but because it was considered a "boy" movie, all the clothes associated with it were VERY boyish, like no way a girl could ever like that movie or its male characters; all "girl" clothes for Toy Story are of Jesse, "boy" clothes are Woody and Buzz. I hate that script of "girls like these characters, boys like these characters" the kids internalize that and it really bothers me. I get that they want to market the crap out of everything, but if they would make it more gender-neutral I wouldn't hate it that much.
Since we don't push the Disney stuff, just go along with what DD is interested in, I feel like she'll get over it soon and we'll keep talking to her about it and helping her develop a critical perspective about the films, the merchandise and the Disney corporation in general. (For the record, I wanted to go to Iceland for vacation this year, but DD wanted to go to Disney and we figured, why not, we've got a new baby coming, let it be her consolation trip!
Iceland next year for sure!!