Some time ago, I attended a short seminar on post feminism. The speaker, an Indian woman, defined post feminism as “the idea that you can be a strong, independent, free-thinking woman…and still be girly.”
I believe this describes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic perfectly.
We have a main cast of six very cute ponies, all with distinct personalities. Yes, the ponies are very feminine. Even tomboy Rainbow Dash. Yet they all show a strength of character and they all have different motivations. For instance, take Rarity. She’s very traditionally “female” – she likes fashion and fantasizes about meeting the perfect stallion. However, she doesn’t follow trends – she makes them. She is an artist who takes pride in her work. Rarity is feminine to the extreme, but she is still a strong woman who thinks for herself. Applejack is similar. She focuses on family, an idea that might typically be looked on as anti-feminist. However, she’s also revered as a great athlete and a shrewd businesswoman. Applejack and Rarity may be feminine, but that doesn’t mean they’re weak and helpless.
Our (American) culture seems to think that a “strong” woman is a man with boobs. Not so! My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic teaches young girls that there are lots of different ways to be strong. It’s okay to like pink and makeup. It’s okay to like fashion. Being “strong” isn’t about pretending you aren’t a girl. You can be successful, independent, and girly too. Frankly, the idea that one has to be masculine to be strong is sexist in itself.
The animation is delightful, the stories well written, and the voices are perfect. Sure, this is a girls’ show. But it has themes and stories that everyone can enjoy (thus the whole 4chan debacle). My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic teaches little girls not only about friendship, but about who they are as growing women. It has lessons for adult women too. Too often we’re told that “strong” women can’t wear dresses, can’t have families, can’t like makeup. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic gives us six truly strong women who like those things and aren’t ashamed. The ponies of Ponyville embrace their femininity and still manage to beat bad guys.
A great show, a great message. Well worth watching.