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To Be or Not to Be a Princess, That is the Question

On the sparkly heels of The Royal Wedding, should we indulge our daughters in more princess fanfare?

I’ll admit it. I was swept up in the hoopla that was the last week.

I didn’t wake up before the crack of dawn to watch or anything. But I did set my DVR to record some of the early coverage so I could show Lily the girl who would marry a prince and become a “real .”

As most 3-year-old girls, my daughter has been sucked into the vortex that is the princess culture. Plastic tiaras, , Disney princess movies and propaganda, even the pretend dress up heel. We have it all and I’m not sure whether that is something to be ashamed of or not.

There was a time when she was younger that I shunned anything with even the word “princess” on it.  I didn’t see the need to label my innocent girl with bibs and shirts that proclaimed she was a princess because the word itself had a rather negative, spoiled connotation to me.

For that reason, it is even harder to recall exactly when the princess stuff started trickling into our home.

I think it may have started with some dress up at a friend’s house in which Lily donned a Cinderella dress and declared herself “a pretty princess” after her young friend announced the same.

At first, she associated merely the dress she was wearing with being a princess. (In fact she still thinks the simple act of wearing any type of dress makes her a princess, which is pretty endearing.)

But it wasn’t long before she latched onto the rest of the princess phenomenon and began requesting princess stories, coloring books and movies that I started to question my previous proclivity to eschew all things princess.

I try not to take everything too seriously. She is a little girl after all and if pretending to be a princess makes her happy, so be it. But I do question if there is any harm in the message it sends to little girls to indulge in the princess culture.

First off, most of this princess “stuff” seems to place a great deal of importance on appearance and being beautiful which could be sending a somewhat troubling message to little girls.

I, for one, can say there is so much more I want my daughter to recognize in people beyond outward appearance in herself and others. What about being smart, independent, empathetic or having a sense of humor? Thank goodness some of the newer Disney princesses have more than just beauty.

And then there is the dreamy rescue and or marriage to a prince that is such a prevalent ending in most Disney princess movies. Do all girls really need to be “rescued” or meet “their prince” to make them happy?

I don’t think so. There’s a lot more to life than that. 

But at three, I don’t really see the harm. If she enjoys pretending to be a princess, then that fosters creativity and imagination and I can see the benefits of that outweigh the negatives I may feel.

I think it is my job as a parent to open her world up to other things so she doesn’t remain steadfastly submerged in a world of pink dresses and glass slippers and fairytale weddings for too long.

Letting her watch the fanfare of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding ceremony was a little bit of history that I wanted to share with her and I was curious to hear her reaction.

After letting her watch the processional for a few minutes and explaining to her what was happening, she surprised even me by saying, “Oh, that’s so nice they are having a wedding! Can I watch a different show now? Then, I want to go outside and play bubbles.”

Clearly, I was over-thinking it all. My little princess was over it.

Trina May 03, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Maybe teach her what it really means to be a princess; faithfully giving back to the country and community that you live in. If she is a princess in that light you are raising a well-rounded person who may wear a tiara around the house when she has a bad day.
Vanessa McManus May 11, 2011 at 12:01 AM
Great point, Trina! There is so much more to being a real modern day princess than pretty dresses and weddings.

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