Someone recently commented – after seeing a photo of my daughter – that it looked like a pink bomb had gone off in my house. They were referring to all the princess paraphernalia strewn around my living room.
At first I felt ever so slightly defensive because I know some people get all up in arms about the whole princess issue. In fact, plenty of people are “anti-princess,” insisting that princess stories where wicked step-mothers abound and only the kiss of a sweet prince can wake you from your forever sleep send the wrong message to our children.
Here’s the thing: I’m all for raising smart, sassy, spunky girls who may want to grow up to be doctors, lawyers or TV producers but I don’t understand why sleeping in a Snow White dress for eighty days straight when you’re four is mutually exclusive to growing up to be a firefighter. Is it because you will be too busy sitting in your castle waiting for Prince Charming or thinking true happiness can only be found by shacking up with dwarves?
And then I start to melt down. “WHY DO WE AS PARENTS HAVE TO TAKE EVERYTHING SO LITERALLY? WHY AM I SHOUTING? WHO AM I ARGUING WITH?”
I don’t know.
Clearly, there are people who are on my side on this one or Walt Disney would have gone out of business a long time ago. But there are some people who strongly believe that princess tales are bad for our little girls. To them, I say, come on. To me, playing princesses is all about the glamour, the glitz, the singing, the dancing – basically, the magic of it all. It’s make believe.
Honestly, my daughter couldn’t even give two cents about the prince part. For her, it’s all about the ladies. She and her “friends” – Ariel, Barbie Fairytopia (pink and purple), White Castle Barbie (or maybe Diamond Castle, I get those two confused, but I know one has to do with yummy burgers), Alexa and Alana (“They sing a song Mommy!”) – go everywhere together.
It’s like she’s part of a gang and their colors are pink and hot pink. Other girls recognize likeminded princess pals and it gives them something in common, something to gossip about, much like we grownups talk about shoes or purses or Dr. McDreamy – and guess what, he’s not real either, Anti-Princess People!
To me, buying into the whole princess thing is a bit like believing in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Are they real? No. (Okay, not as far as I know.) Are they implausible to us? Yes. Do our children love to believe? Of course. And we love for them to believe because that’s part of their innocence. Once that spell is broken, they will look at life with much more cynical eyes because they will always be looking for the trick, the illusion. They won’t believe in magic, they won’t be fooled by a card trick or the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. When they see a ghost pop out they will always be looking for the wires.
To take away princess stories – even ones with ridiculous messages like Beauty and the Beast (if you love him enough, he will change) – is to not give our kids enough credit. When it’s time to understand that there’s no such thing as a man who will change, they will figure it out. But right now, it’s part of their make-up. If you had a little boy who loved to play with dolls and princesses, and you took that away from him because you were worried it was too “girly,” well, that would be wrong. And to take away cars and trucks from a little girl because they’re too “masculine” would be wrong as well.
So why is it okay to try and prevent our little girls from lovin’ the glitter? If loving glitter is wrong, I don’t wanna be right!