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… with my five-year-old daughter.

She came home yesterday from school with no voice.

It was no better this morning and so we spent the day at home.

Lots of coughing, Kleenex, water, cuddling and …

… fairies.

Fairies_on_Friday_button

Image from free wallpaper available here: http://wallpaper-kid.com/fairies-wallpapers-free-download.htm

My eldest is currently ALL. ABOUT. FAIRIES.

If I’m being honest, she’s been pretty faithful to the fae since discovering Tinkerbell at two.

So, having spent more time than usual today actually paying attention to my daughter’s television shows, I thought I’d give vampires the night off and tell you what I learnt during my five-year-olds’ sick-day.

So here’s “Fairies on Friday” to brighten the last few week endings with “Fangtastic Fridays“. Maybe this will just end up morphing into Fantasy Fridays. We’ll see.

So what did we watch today?

Winx Club and PopPixie on Netflix.

My daughter has been chatting about these two shows for a while and I admit I hadn’t really paid attention beyond the fact that I knew it was about fairies and pixies.

I’m pro fairy. I even have a Fairy Pinterest Board that I started so my girls and I could collect pictures of them together that we liked online – it started with the Disney Fairies so I could ask my eldest about which ones her favourite’s were; why she liked them etc…

Getting back to Winx, there are two (of six and counting) seasons of Winx Club as well as the first season of PopPixie on Canadian Netflix.

But until today, I hadn’t really watched them.

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Winx Club is a 2004 Italian animated fantasy/adventure series created by Iginio Straffi. Season 1 starts with Bloom, a girl from Earth, who discovers her magical abilities when she saves Stella, a fairy princess from another planet. Stella then invites her to join Alfea, the top fairy school in all the realms, where she meets other friends to form the Winx Club. When trouble arises they transform into fairies who use their unique magical powers to fight evil and save the world.

They are aided by the Specialists, boys (who become love interests) who are training to be warriors who can use a differing range of weapons along with other abilities.

They have exciting adventures and become fast friends.

Season two (2005) introduces the Pixies, small and super-cute flying fairy-like creatures, who the Winx bond with after rescuing. The spin-off show PopPixie was created in 2011, which features the pixies, elves, gnomes and magical animals who all live in a small village called Pixieville.

Most of this sounds – and is – benign to positive. Winx reinforces issues like the importance of teamwork, cooperation and the power of friendship and respect. Guys and girls are on equal footing in a fight because they have unique powers to bring to the battle. The characters don’t back down from a challenge and creatively problem solve.

That said, the Winx are all also unrealistically skinny; dress skimpy; and are obsessed with body image and boys. As far as I can tell, the pixies while drawn younger-looking also sport short skirts and halter tops.

Which gave me pause as a parent.

Now as someone who spends a bit of time online surfing for fairy pictures, I can attest to the fact that “dressing skimpy while being skinny” is, well, um, fairy tame to normal. Winx didn’t seem much worse on brief inspection than Tinkerbell and her friends.

But further surfing and watching does drive home that Winx Club are really skinny, and there is something a bit more suggestive in their garb than what is worn by your average child-aimed fae.

So the question then becomes even if it is too “old” for my child due to inclusion of those aspects, how much does that really matter? ie: How much of the older “stuff” is sinking in? Is she really just enjoying the fantasy fairy aspect while missing much of the other messaging? If she’s not watching it to the exclusion of other varied media, is she not still getting balance while also enjoying her fairy fix?

In my search for answers, I discovered and subscribed to Common Sense Media which, among other things, reviews a variety of children’s shows and provides information and advice on which parents can base viewing decisions.

I found scrolling through the information and Winx Club reviews there informative. I especially found the differences between parent and child reviews interesting as to age appropriateness and beliefs of how various images influence younger kids.

Common Sense Media also told me what I knew – it’s too old for my kid. It suggested 8-year-olds as the target audience for Winx Club and didn’t have any reviews for PopPixie.

I know the images and much of the material aims at older audiences. But then I know that is also true with Disney, where any number of jokes and references float right over the heads of the younger audiences.

I know my five-year old loves the make-believe, fantasy fairy-land. THAT’s what she’s watching for. I LOVE that she LOVES that. I love watching my child pretend play with all her dolls and seeing her pull inspiration from everywhere: books; pictures on our walls; friends at school; daycare; us; and yes, television…

I can even rationalize that she gets the unrealistic body image modelling thrust at her from multiple areas so, as long as I balance Barbie and Winx Club with Dora, Where the Wild Things Are, The Gruffalo, Harold and the Purple Crayon, the Paper Bag Princess, etc… we can start the conversation NOW about fantasy and reality as it applies to real beauty and female role models.

That said? Now that I’ve sat and watched? I can also discourage Winx Club until she’s a bit older. Having asked enough questions today, I know that she really doesn’t yet understand the divide as to what’s fantasy and reality when it comes to the behaviours of the characters. And expecting her to figure out and take away the good stuff while discarding the stuff I’d like her to ignore? That’s asking a lot.

What about you? What sort of TV viewing rules do you have for your kids?

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Photo credits: Winx Club is from here and PopPixie image from here.

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