As you may have heard, this week is National Princess Week. (Yes, really. Don’t question me, I listen to Radio Disney all day.) Since I know many of you have been wondering why I have a beef with the lovely ladies, I figure I should clear things up.
It’s not the princesses I don’t like. In fact, there are qualities I admire in each of them. (Well, the ones I know. I’m afraid I’m behind on meeting the most recent official additions.) One of them works her butt off and loves animals. (Enough to befriend rodents, so you can only imagine how bad those step sisters must really be.) Another one escapes death multiple times and proves people of all personality types are worthy of love—even the grumpy ones. A particularly driven girl makes huge sacrifices (and grows legs) in order to dive into (pun intended) an entirely different culture. I mean, you get the point. These girls earned their party dresses and tiaras.
So why is it so many people seem to skip to the end of the story? To the part where the princess has been saved by a prince and lives a glamorous life of beauty and pampering?
Of course there’s no harm in putting on dresses and dancing around. (Heck, even I do that.) And there’s something truly magical about a fairy tale and creating imaginary scenarios where people live happily ever after. But from what I’ve seen, we’re not doing our little girls any favors by forgetting to teach them there’s a story of struggle that leads to the happy ending—and makes it that much sweeter.
For instance, recently when I was co-oping at Little’s school, there was a little girl on the playground who likes to be a different princess each day. She refuses to answer to her own name, only Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle… Well, another little girl tried to come into her kingdom and she bashed her on the head with a toy. When the teacher went to discipline her, she replied, “I’m a princess! I don’t have to follow the rules!”
Of course I know tons of extremely sweet little girls who love princesses, dress up and pretend play. They know where the line is between imagination and entitlement. But now that I have a little girl of my own—who already drags around her baby doll and shows princess-in-training personality traits—I worry. (Surprise, surprise.)
Will Pink know that happiness shouldn’t be measured in sparkles and up-dos? Will she be able to gracefully balance imaginary grandeur with real-life humility? Will she know beauty is more than jewel deep? Will she be willing to work hard to build the life she dreams of?
If I have anything to say about it, the answer to all of these questions will be yes. I just hope my spin on princess mania will be as convincing as the Cinderella’s on the playground in a couple years.
How do you encourage imaginary play, but show your little princess who’s really queen/king?