Piecing Together The Princess Problem

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I am RIGHT in it people. Princesses, princesses everywhere. My newly-minted 3 year old is obsessed, and my 19-month old is following suit. (I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… I literally thought I was Snow White when I was five. And Lord help you if you disputed me.)

Fact about princesses: The feminist in me hates them. The mom in me thinks they’re fabulous.

Many of my best and most modern mom-friends warned me that princesses are “evil.” I never got why, but for some reason found myself turning against them once I became a mom. When my first daughter busted into our lives, people would sweetly comment, “Oh what a little princess!” and inside I would seethe. “She is NOT a little princess. Princesses don’t know how to DO anything, and that is NOT what my daughter will be like!” Same thing happened when my second daughter came around. Don’t call her a princess…. you’ll turn her into a helpless brat! Take those toddlers with their moms at Starbucks decked out as Belle: Do you really need to wear a gown to go with mommy on an errand? Please.

Looking back, I think I was just sleep deprived enough to get offended about the most innocent things. (Again, this coming from someone who once – allegedly – embarrassed my own mother at Disneyland’s Wishing Well because I insisted on singing to the birds just like Snow White. I digress.)

Princesses: So cliche. Overly pink for no reason. Too antiquated. Not good for modern little girls. Period.

But then Sofia entered our lives. Aurora drove the point home. Belle took it to another level. Now? We all sing and dance to the songs. We watch the movies without moving a muscle. We’ve memorized classic quotes and lines [from the movies] and interject them in regular conversation. We dress and rotate glittery gowns all day long. We play with their castles. We buy paper plates with their pictures on them. We piece them together in jigsaw puzzles that are way over my head. We change our minds between being Rapunzel, Belle or Ariel for Halloween. WE. ARE. FANS.

And I can’t deny it anymore: I LOVE IT. I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT. (Almost as much as Snow White loved her Prince.) At this very second, Ariel is our latest mentor. I recently took LadyP to Hollywood’s famous El Capitan Theater (also my old stomping grounds in my entertainment reporter days) to see the limited run of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (in 3D!) as a 3rd birthday surprise. It was our first major full-length film in a theater where you actually had to sit in a chair for a whole 90 minutes. With a ‘Sofia-Sing-Along!’ pre-show and an ‘Ariel, Live On Stage!’ finale… I thought she was going to pass out from excitement. I witnessed my little lady sing the entire ‘Part of Your World’ – lyric for lyric, out loud – right there in the dark with her popcorn on her lap.

Instead of keeping my eyes on the screen, I just watched my little girl and cried (and then leaned down to tell her that if she wanted to sing in a movie theater, she had to whisper because there were other people there to enjoy the movie also). As my daughter unabashedly sang from her heart, there it was: PURE INNOCENCE, HAPPINESS AND HOPE. What every mom wishes she could preserve for as long as possible for her children. And all my fears about ‘evil and helpless princess influences’ for my daughters melted away.

Sure, there’s the whole waiting-for-prince-charming-to-start-your-life danger zone… but we forget that princess stories also offer happy endings. In a world where happy endings seem to generally be too few and far between, I WANT MY GIRLS TO REMEMBER THAT HAPPY ENDINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

As moms, we spend so much time teaching our daughters to be emotionally-strong, independent, accomplished, smart, self-sufficient and capable of handling whatever life throws their way… I fear we’ve forgotten about the hope for happy endings part. It’s ok to have hope that your life will turn out great. It’s ok to have hope that you will meet your own “prince,” fall in love and start a family. It’s ok to have hope that things will shake out how they’re meant to be. It’s ok to have hope that you will one day live a great home with lots and lots of flowers around you.

We all know the reality of life is challenging, but HOPE is the thing that gets us through the bad stuff. Pick any princess story and you will find HOPE for something ‘more’ or ‘better’ at the very core: Sofia teaches us to do nice things for others. Aurora teaches us that your life can still turn around no matter what dire circumstance you’re in. Belle teaches us to be nice to everybody, no matter what they look like. Merida [from Brave] teaches us to appreciate your mommy. Ariel teaches us to believe in what you want your life to become… even if others doubt you. (We haven’t met Cinderella yet, but hopefully she’ll teach us to not waste too much money on expensive shoes – even if they are made of crystal – because you never know when you may lose one at some random party.)

So what if princesses have fancy jewelry and rock perfect hair? (The fantasy of perfect hair never hurt anyone… and we all know how fabulous $7.99 earrings from Forever 21 can turn any bad day right around). Poor princesses… I’ve been so wrong about them in my new-mom days… until now. Princesses are not evil. Anything that makes a little girl happy and hopeful in her still-innocent life is not “evil…” we’re the ones that are “evil” for being so jaded and over-analytical when it comes to fun little kid playtime.

As far as I’m concerned: Belle, Tiana, Cinderella, Snow White, Merida, Sofia, Aurora, Rapunzel, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocohantas can babysit my girls anytime. (Please. I’m begging. Come over. I’d like to get a pedicure.)

What’s your take: are you over princesses?

Jill Simonian is a television personality, appearing regularly on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” daytime show. This piece was originally posted on Jill’s blog, TheFabMom.com.

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