One of my friends said, "Don't ever let anyone give Amelia a 'real' princess costume (read: licensed Disney costume)." No kidding. People generally don't think about how such things kill imagination and innovation. One of the greatest concerns about my children's generation is how their imaginations are so threatened by character licensing. You know, the way every toy is an exact representation of a character they see on television or in movies or even read about in books. So, not only do children stop creating their own characters, but studies have found that this shuts down the creation of original stories, too. They become imitators of the story lines they watch all day, and the generation is at risk of growing up without the knowledge of how to be creators, which impacts nearly every profession.
We just spent a month sending Amelia to an imaginative play class called Dreama that is designed to help combat this cultural problem. Trust me, it took two weeks for the teacher to get Amelia to stop wanting to be Snow White and to get her to grasp the concept of creating a new character from her imagination. Gradually, she began creating her own names, and the result of the class is the lovely costume pictured in the last post that reflects her innovation.
She has come a long way from arguing with me that a blanket couldn't be used as a Cinderella dress because it wasn't the right shade of (Disney) powder blue. Amelia is learning that costumes can be suggestions for actors and audiences. Her creativity is flourishing. And we're stocking her dress-up supplies with versatile pieces that can be used for limitless characters and stories, instead of flat imitations.