For my daughter’s fourth birthday, we took her to Disneyland so that she could experience The Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique. According to the website, “The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a beauty salon where young guests are magically transformed into little princesses and knights…It’s hard not to feel perfectly pampered in this charming little boutique that’s owned by Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and operated by Fairy Godmothers-in-training.”
I happen to be fluent in corporate indoctrination, so allow me to translate: “The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is where you pay Beverly Hills prices for minimum-wage labor to transform your daughter into something that resembles a Las Vegas festish pole dancer in less than thirty minutes.”
The process began with identification. Which princess did Charlee want to be? All week long she had been reeling in anticipation, teetering back and forth between Princess Rapunzel and Princess Jasmine. This was alarming to my wife. Princess Jasmine, at least when we had encountered her in California Adventure the year before, dressed like… well, how do I put this delicately? … A whore — she dressed like a whore. Actually, this is something I appreciated. When you’re a season pass holder, Disneyland can get a little monotonous, so when Disney uses culture as an excuse to costume their princesses in a way that introduces a little Las Vegas glamour, you welcome it with open arms. Still, it’s not exactly the identity you want to be embodied by your four-year-old, and thankfully, my wife managed to ask the right leading questions so that Charlee “decided” she wanted to be Rapanzel. It should be mentioned that Charlee’s cousin Grace did go with Jasmine and looked nothing like a whore; apparently Disney is savvy enough to know that the costume they use to show off their cast member’s cleavage probably wouldn’t look so good on a pre-schooler. Thank god for small favors.
Once the costume had been chosen and donned, Charlee was introduced to her fairy godmother, a sweet gal with a sunny disposition, the kind of disposition that made you wonder how much glitter she had inhaled working in that Mickey Mouse sweatshop. Charlee’s hair was brushed, styled, and weaved — yes, that’s right, weaved. Upon looking at her hair, the following terms came to mind: puffy, bulbous, Mardi Gras parade dancer.
Once the hair was effectively coiffed, the fairy godmother moved on to the makeup and the manicure. The whole thing had the feel of a Madonna video, and Charlee compounded this feeling by playing the part. My daughter can strike a mother grabbin’ pose.
The cherry on this style sundae came in the form of glitter — mountains of glitter. To most of you, I’m sure this seems precious, lovely, darling even; but my daughter has curly hair. Really. Curly. Hair. We’re still picking glitter out of her scalp. We’re still finding it all over the house — in Charlee’s bed, on the cushions of the couch, against the floorboards of the living room. I’m even seeing it in the dog’s turds when I take her for walks, rendering the process both flamboyant and disgusting.
After the salon treatment, we ventured out into Disneyland and had a wonderful day with friends and family. Charlee was in hog heaven, spoiled beyond recognition. It’s been a few weeks since her birthday, and only now do I feel that we’ve gotten her back to center. The damage of a Disney experience of this magnitude is nearly impossible to counteract without shock treatment and heavy doses of Ritalin. But, hey, your daughter only turns four once, and maybe because we spoiled her and let her dress like a high-class trollop when she’s young, she won’t do it when she’s a teenager. Seems reasonable.
Postscript: You might have noted above that The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique styles not only princesses but knights. If my son Sam had wanted to be “knighted,” we would have likely obliged him; however, when he walked into the salon, he noticed another young boy being knighted, which did entail being doused with obscene amounts of glitter. Even Sam isn’t so young that he doesn’t know that there are only a handful of men who can pull off glitter. One is David Bowie; the others are employed in the Broadway production of Mamma Mia. My son respects his own limitations.