Design by Leah Hoogterp

I have the same taste in art as my four-year-old niece — I swear I’m not exaggerating. 

I love Disney movies, and their soundtracks, probably more than her. Hannah Montana (yes, Hannah, not Miley Cyrus) makes her way into my top five most listened to artists every Spotify Wrapped. I will defend Barbie movies until I die. Young adult books dominate 90% of my bookshelf. I frequently rewatch my favorite Disney Channel or Nickelodeon shows. My artistic preferences don’t exactly match that of a typical 20-year-old.

I struggle to grasp the concept of growing up. Not to sound like a millennial, but “adulting” is hard, and saying goodbye to childhood is even harder. I’m the youngest in my family, yet I’m the sentimental old fool whose conversations often begin with, “Remember when?” I’m like an overfilled balloon of nostalgia just waiting to burst. I’m not nostalgic for my childhood — a childhood plagued with divorce and financial insecurity — but rather the idea of childhood with its simplicity and innocence. Holding onto the past (however I choose to see it) makes life a little easier. I attach positive emotions to the idea of childhood, and in turn, the movies, music, books and TV shows I devoured as a child stay as fun and enjoyable as ever. They never grow old, unlike me. 

It’s hard to outgrow something you can always easily return to. With the growing popularity of streaming services, the movies and TV shows I consumed as a child are increasingly accessible and inescapable. That’s fine by me — movies and TV shows shaped my childhood. Saturday mornings were made for watching cartoons at my grandma’s house. Movie nights meant root beer floats. Quoting lines from movies and TV shows we watched as children is how my siblings and I communicate; our humor is permanently altered by “Shrek” and other fantastical (read: stupid) movies. 

The fact that the types of movies and TV shows I like to watch don’t reflect my age embarrasses me at times. I sometimes feel shame and guilt from liking things that are “just for kids.” But just because some movies and TV shows are made for children, doesn’t mean they can’t resonate with adults. I appreciate Pixar movies now more than I did as a child. I refuse to believe the Toy Story franchise and “Up” are “for kids only” because they make me sob more than they should. 

My favorite show of all time, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” remains (unsurprisingly) relevant in today’s society. Aside from “Boy Meets World,” it’s one of the most thought-provoking children shows I’ve ever encountered and has one of the greatest character arcs of all time. So even the thought of one of my favorite movies or TV shows from childhood being “just for kids” hurts. It undermines the value put into these pieces of art, and it paints children as unworthy audiences of “real art,” which contradicts how children are portrayed in some franchises like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson or The Hunger Games. In these popular franchises, the weight of the world is literally on the shoulders of children, yet their mode of art is simultaneously written off as childish. It doesn’t make sense. 

Art from my childhood is like a baby blanket — it brings me comfort and security, and I don’t plan on letting that go. So Renee (when you learn how to read this article), just know that your Aunt Ava will always jam out to the “Frozen” soundtrack. It’s for your entertainment, but it’s also for mine.

Daily Arts Writer Ava Seaman can be reached at