Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Trouble With Princesses

These days, the princesses are everywhere - on lunchboxes, t-shirts, kiddie furniture, backpacks, potty seats... you and I both know this list could go on and on. I'm not saying the princesses will never make an appearance in our house (you know what they say about saying never), but I'm not going to be the one who brings them in. This is one of those battles that's a little harder to fight than it should be, in part because I think that other people think I'm just being difficult and silly about it. What you do with your family is your business, but I want to explain my problem with princesses.

What is it about princesses that appeals to little girls?

1. The wardrobe
2. Marrying up/being rescued by a handsome guy
3. Having whatever you want, whenever you want it

#1 is the princess thing I have the least issue with.

It almost seems a little silly to try to explain my problem with #2, but I guess that's why we're here. I don't want Veda waiting around for some man to deem her worthy of investing in her. I want her to invest in herself - prepare herself for the future she wants via education and work and actively pursue it. Maybe Veda will choose the stay-at-home mom path, and if she does, I can get behind that choice 100%. After all, I consider myself pretty successful, at least by my own definition of success. But whatever she chooses, I want her to always know that she's enough - exactly as she is. She's not waiting on someone else to complete her. She's not counting on someone else to hand her a bright future. I want her to know that her happiness is up to her - not a man.

I suspect that this contemporary celebration of princesses is mostly about #3. When a little girl wears a message t-shirt that labels her as a princess, what's the message there? That she's spoiled? That she gets what she wants? That her parents sacrifice their own financial health to indulge her? No doubt, we live in a time when materialism is celebrated. We all know so many people who are clambering to maintain a facade of luxurious prosperity at the cost of shackling themselves to loads of debt. My children certainly have all of their needs met, and they have/will have many of their wants met, BUT I want it to always be clear that in the this world (at least for the class of people to whom we belong) money represents work, that the things they want cost money, and that they must work in order to earn the things they want. Tell my daughter she has the princess power to snap her fingers and have her father and I scrambling to meet her every desire? No, thank you.

So there you have it - the summary of my problem with princesses. Where do you stand on the princesses? Why? Hoping for some good comments on this one... maybe even a good discussion.
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  1. Hmmm, since you asked!! :)

    I am on the opposite end of this, sort of. I actually agree with 100% of what you said, and will absolutely raise my stong-willed, stubborn girl exactly the same way.

    HOWEVER, as I type this I just joined the Disney Movie Club, lol! While I honestly do not agree with the story of girlcantlivewithoutboyandhemustsaveher (aside from Belle in Beauty and The Beast - she was a nerd, a avid book reader, and wanted NOTHING to do with the hot stud in town). its mostly about nostalgia and recreating childhood memories with Jules like I had. It's just magical, like Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy, and anything else you want to believe in. It's like the world becoming obsessed with Princess Kate! Was she rescued - no. Did she need a man - Hell no! William came running back when she kicked him to the curb. But people just have facinations for princesses. I think in the wrong contexts, yes - it's horrible (Toddlers and Tiaras, I'm looking at you). But, if you look at it as fairytales and dress up and tea parties and just being a kid, I love it. I certainly don't think Jules will look up to the Little Mermaid as a role model, and if she does, well, then I'm not doing something right and shame on me, lol! But if she sings along to the songs and wants to dress up like her for Halloween and we go to Disney and she gives her a big hug - well, I might just melt into a pile of goo. I mean seriosuly, if this doesn't make you melt I just don't know what will, - ha!!

    and p.s. I TOTALLY get what you are saying, and as I read this, I thought of many a girls I know who are like this. And they are like this for no reason other than their mothers.

    p.p.s. What are you thoughts on Barbies? Same?

  2. Honestly this is something i never gave much thought to... until recently! Especially having a boy i never thought much about girl toys and princesses and stuff... but then again I have never been a girly girl. Then a friend of mine on facebook started posting things about the princess dilemma and it made me sit and think more, not just about princesses but about toys in general and what they say and who they are geared to.

    If I have a girl I would want her to be exposed to princesses sure, but like you i feel like the whole "waiting to be rescued" and "needing a guy" thing a little tough to encourage. In college I remember in one class we talked at great length about cinderella syndrome... it was quite interesting... about how girls have it engrained in their brains early on they need to find a man and marry him and he will take care of her. I don't think princesses are something I would encourage either but I wouldn't exactly discourage it... i'd probably have age appropriate talks about them. I think there are actually some modern princess stories that take a more "i'm a princesses but i don't need someone to rescue me" sort of deal.

    As i said, the whole princess thing really makes me sit and think about toys and marketing towards kids in general!

  3. I am totally here with you for all the same reasons. If she wants to play dress up and watch Disney movies in the future I won't say no but to date we haven't bought any of those message T's or given much air time to anything princess. I watch my 16 year old niece go on and on in status updates on FB about "waiting for her prince charming" and I think SERIOUSLY?!?! Go out there and make the world your oyster, find your power and make a name for yourself. Sheesh!

  4. Thank you so much for these responses!

    Mandy, I can understand where you're coming from. We'll watch the Disney movies at some point because 1. they're a significant part of our culture and 2.I don't want to make them exotic by making them forbidden. BUT we'll also have talks about them. (Like in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie finishes reading Cinderella to Charlotte's little girl and says something like, "You know it doesn't really work like that, right?") As for Barbie, no I'm not a fan. Without getting into it too much (maybe that's another post), I was a big Barbie fan as a little girl, and when I reached the preteen years, I struggled a lot with body image issues, and whether it's ridiculous or not, Barbie was one of the bodies I thought I was "supposed" to look like.

    Emma, you talked about Cinderella Syndrome... I've seen so many things on Pinterest (the Everything pins from strangers, not from my friends ;-) that go hand in hand with that. Pitiful. Women saying "One day a man will do _____ for me." or "A man will give _______ to me."

    C, I've seen former students post similar things, and sometimes I can't help but tell them what a special time this is in their lives to find out who they are, to pursue their interests, etc. - They're probably rolling their eyes, ha!


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