Fairies Fume Over Tinker Bell Half Marathon

Let's say you love fairies. And you're fleet of foot. And a guy. Is Disney's new Tinker Bell Half Marathon your dream come true? Even though it's 'geared for women', Disney says you're 'allowed' to register. Sexist? Disney?

Last Tuesday, Disney announced the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, a new race to be held every January in Anaheim. I wrote about it briefly in Running with the Mouse (which, by the way, will soon have a new author to replace the departing Robert Mathis).

As it turns out, many people are upset about this race.

And they've taken, of course, to the Disney forums to vent their anger. Much of the griping is on DISBoards, a very reliable place for Disney griping of all kinds, and yesterday Dave Parfitt addressed the issue in a well-written, insightful article for the DISUnplugged blog.

Avoiding the issue of sexism, which is a main driver of this debate, Dave toes the corporate line and applauds Disney's decision to tailor new races for their 'core market': women.

Disney's Tinker Bell Stumble

I agree with Dave.

If female runners put more money in Disney's pocket, then Disney should create more female races. The problem is the clumsy way Disney handled it. Did Disney have to announce that the race is 'geared for females' but that males are 'allowed' to register?

Great way to make sure everyone knows that the Tinker Bell race is 'sexist'.

What pushed so many buttons is the 'males are allowed' to register bit. Whoever vetted that for public release needs the rest of her brain back.

I think it's no big deal that the Tinker Bell race is - at least somewhat - sexist. And of course Disney will 'allow' males to register for the race. Disney's error is in stating they'll allow males to register. Ditto 'geared for women'. Why give folks a reason to gnash and growl? Just announce it's a 'Tinker Bell' race. People will still gnash and growl, but at least then Disney would be able to say 'gosh, no, sexist?'.

Wouldn't this have been better: "Guys are welcome, too!"

Disney really doesn't want males in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. Most males will look at the name of the race - Tinker Bell Half Marathon - and sit it out. Mission accomplished.

But once Disney makes it seem that males aren't welcome, such as by stating that they're 'allowed' to register, you just know that some males are going to register for this race and run it - possibly in costume - simply to make a point.

More Tinker Bell Troubles

People are up in arms about other things, such as the race's timing (January) and location (Anaheim), but I don't think these protests would have gotten much traction if Disney hadn't made such a big deal about this announcement for weeks in advance.

What we got, in the end, is just another race.

Nobody, so far, has complained about Disney's choice of Megyn Price to be runner #1 (with matching jersey). I'd never heard of Megyn Price. I looked her up. She's an actress. And in the past, she has run in triathlons, which explains at least in part why Disney chose her.

But is any buzz coming from Megyn Price running in a Disney race?

I have nothing against Megyn Price, but by making her 'runner #1', Disney implicitly tells its paying customers that they're back of the line.

I would have liked to see Disney hold a contest - they're very good with contests! - and award runner #1 honors to the Disney fan who won. (How funny if a guy won!)

Tinker Bell in a Teapot

Give this a few days to blow over.

If everyone who claims to dislike the Tinker Bell Half Marathon end up not registering for it, then Disney will either not hold the race again or they'll make changes to it.

Now excuse me while I find my spandex and fairy wings. I've got a race to run!

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