Your Royal Highness

I don’ t mind the concpet of “princess” within girlhood. I mind when it is obectified and sexualized. We hosted two playdates in the last couple of days during which the little ladies turned themsevles into princesses. Princesses full of imagination and childhood sweetness? I can handle that.

Our house is Disney Princess free except for a Snow White book from when I was a kid. I’m not anti-Disney. For the most part. My shark/dolphin/puzzle/dinosaur/Dr. Seuss/art loving daughter would rather be playing outside with the dogs or reading books than playing princess. But every once in awhile she does enjoy it and since childhood should be rich in experiences, we play “princess”. She is certainly quickly learning that to be social with her little girlfriends, she has to understand “princess culture”.

We don’t have plastic kitten heels with feathers for her, we don’t have a tiara, we don’t have a princess vanity.  She does have play jewelry and barely-there play make-up, a drawer full of dressup clothes, ballet slippers and tutus. If she wants to play princess, I’m okay with that, as long as she wants to play ten other things during the week. But she won’t play Disney’s version of princess, or dress up with pre-conceived notions of how a princess should look. Or act. Or weigh.

Here’s how we do “princess” at our house:

The girls dressed up as "Spider Princesses", which involves running around and screaming. A lot. And very loudly.

 

The "Wedding Princesses", who took turns asking my husband to be their "wedding boy" and held multiple weddings with a 20minutes period.

Comments

  1. My daughter loves to play “Princess Presto with Spelling Power!” She has the crown, wand, and cape to go with it. So cute! And educational too.

  2. Great post. I’ve been struggling with a confession piece ;) lately since my family loves Disney (the world). Friends have been teasing me about how I can be a feminist and still enjoy a Disney vacation. While *I* know there is a difference between a family vacation and the marketing much of the Disney Princess line I have this tiny sense of betrayal when I swoon a bit at the castle. I must remind myself I can be a feminist and love Disney and even get a little heart flutter when Cinderella appears. It’s all about balance, separating reality from fantasy, and remembering I am without limits.

  3. “If she wants to play princess, I’m okay with that, as long as she wants to play ten other things during the week.”

    This part jumped out at me. If your daughter went through a phase and wanted to play princess all the time, you wouldn’t be ok with that? That seems to fly in the face of a what I thought was a central tenant of your site: that girls should be encouraged to do whatever they want.

    • Mary -
      My daughter never had the princess phaze, but if she had, I would have encouraged her to vary the story or try new adventures while playing princess. I don’t mind a princess here or there, but I think ongoing doses of Princess Culture focused on a narrow definition of beauty and using a hyper-feminine definition of “girly” for doing not much more than catching a prince can be very limiting and harmful to our daughters.

      The central tenant of my business and blog is to not limit our children and give them the freedom to enjoy a childhood rich in experiences and exploration.

  4. Kaitie-Lynn Cohen says:

    I have always been a “princess” girl… I love the color pink (not b/c it’s “a girl thing”, just b/c _I_ like the color as a personal choice), I find it to be a very pretty color and one that personally appeals to me. My parents let me choose for myself what colors I liked and didn’t, and didn’t pigeon-hole me into pink or pastels… My “twin sister” best friend (we have our own language and read each others’ minds, even from miles apart, like twins… and we’ve grown up like we’ve been sisters since birth) doesn’t mind pink, but never really liked it growing up (she liked dark purple as her fav, but also navy blue, forrest green, black, and darker hues of colors mostly)… Despite being named Pixie (she’s named for her grandmother), she’s never been a girlie girl like I ALWAYS have been… I had tiaras, feather boas, tutus, and have danced ballet since I was 6 (soon to be attempting to do it professionally!)… but these were things that my parents let me do b/c I enjoyed them and wanted to… Just like competitive cheerleading (not the silly sideline stuff)… 

    My point is, these things (even “princess” things) are not inherently dangerous or “bad” for girls. A princess doesn’t need to be a helpless, pampered, and spoiled brat that gets her own way all the time, that people not only have to do everything for her, or simply do everything for her out of some sort of obligation or sense of entitlement… A princess is a girl growing into the role of a queen, a woman with a great responsibility and who has to put others before herself… Just like a good king… There’s no shame in being a girl, even in the “traditional” sense- it shouldn’t be seen as being “empowered” or being traditional.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy Z. Quinn and JenTB, Melissa Wardy. Melissa Wardy said: New Blog Post: '"Your Royal Highness" Here's how we do 'princess' at our house http://bit.ly/c2bexc #medialiteracy #parenting #girls [...]

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