Layla Courts is a little girl who really likes to dress up. Nothing much to report there. Lots of little girls love dress-up. But, for Layla, dress-up isn’t just something to do for fun. Her mom, Camilla Courts, has taken Layla’s interest in dress-up to a whole new level.
Courts is a photographer and, according to The Huffington Post, embarked on this journey with Layla in 2014 after a trip to Disneyland. At first it was just one dress. They had visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (isn’t Disney great!) and purchased a Little Mermaid dress. Wanting to get a photo of Layla wearing the dress before it got dirty or spoiled, Courts took a few photos and posted them online. The positive response inspired the mother-daughter duo to make this their new hobby and they now share their photos with the world on Instagram.
As a lover of Disney princesses myself, it’s hard to view these photos without a little stab of envy. They’re stunning. And the backgrounds Courts adds make it look like Layla is really in the story. What I wouldn’t have done, at Layla’s age, to take photos like these. Honestly, what I wouldn’t give now!
But, wish-fulfillment aside, I can’t help but wonder: isn’t this a little over the top? Apparently, while Courts used to buy the dresses ready-made, she now has them custom-made to fit Layla perfectly and has enlisted the help of a make-up artist named Missy MacKintosh. Courts even joins in sometimes, casting herself as villains like Maleficent and Ursula. And, while the photos really are amazing, they’re not your typical princess dress-up photos.
There’s no denying it’s slightly odd. But it also seems to be another case of Disney princesses (so often maligned for spreading anti-feminist values) actually boosting a little girl’s self-esteem. The article in The Huffington Post quotes Courts as saying “‘She’s a very shy child and I see her light up when she gets into costume . . . She’s gained a lot of confidence since we started the project and has really come out of her shell.’”
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Once again, I couldn't help myself. I was going to share this on Halloween, but I can't wait that long. This was EXACTLY how I pictured this photo. It's not easy to direct while in front of the camera. I don't know how Clint Eastwood does it. Huge thank you to @missymackintosh – Make Up Artist for doing my hair, horns and make up! (Check out those ears!) Thank you @brianmartin1057 for taking this photo and being so easy to direct ;) Lets not forget thank you to Layla for going along with all of mom's crazy ideas and loving it, Costumes both made by me. I don't mean to brag, but I made both dresses without a pattern. How I did it, I do not know. Edited by @camilliacourtsphoto (me!) #maleficentcosplay #disneycosplay #sleepingbeautycosplay #maleficentcosplayer #disneyprincess #maleficent #briarrosecosplay #disneyvilliancosplay #disneyvillian
The part that is a little hard to swallow (for me at least) is how public these photos are. It’s one thing to dress up in elaborate costumes and take photos, and another to share those photos with strangers. Layla is only seven years old. Does she understand how many people are viewing her image? I’m sure she doesn’t. But her mom does. To be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about it.
Hopefully, Courts is savvy enough to let Layla decide when she wants to stop. Since, from a parent’s perspective, it certainly seems like something that could be tremendously fun until it’s definitively not. So, I hope Courts feels comfortable disappointing her fans if Layla decides she’d rather go back to being just a regular kid. That remains to be seen.
For now, Layla will be dressing up as a new princess every month and Courts will be posting them on their Instagram account, Disney Inspired Photo. Princess Jasmine, from Aladdin, is up next. What do you think of this mother-daughter venture? Tell us in the comments!