the power of princess

When cnn.com published an essay of mine a few weeks back, about my apprehension at having a girl after two boys, it got extremely varied reactions. (If you’re here now, you probably know that already, but in case you don’t, you might want to read this first. Things were lively around here for a while.)

People took issue with what I said for so many different reasons I stopped keeping track, but the one I found the strangest was the women who wrote me saying, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PRINCESSES?”

Nothing’s wrong with princess play, if it becomes merely one of my daughter’s interests– but I thought just about any mother today would feel, as I do, that the focus on princess play for little girls today has come to exclude any other kinds of play, or toys, or dress-up, or behavior, for girls between 2 and 5, and that that was perhaps a little restrictive for our daughters. I was really surprised that some women thought that was even subject to argument.

Today, yahoo news has a story by Martha Irvine discussing the princess syndrome, and some other parents’ misgivings about it. If you are someone who is offended by my “problem with princesses”, take a look- I think Ms. Irvine, and the people she interviews, make some interesting points.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Marketing Mama May 24, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I’ll go check out the article. The whole princess thing drives me up a freakin’ wall. I’m doing everything possible to expose my daughter to lots of different types of toys, movies and books in my desperate hope to keep her from becoming obsessed with princesses.

It helps that she has an older brother that shares his firetrucks, dumptrucks and legos. Oh, and to demonstrate that I’m not into stereotyping or anti-stereotyping my kids, I also love that he loves strawberry shortcake and cooking in the play kitchen I bought him for his 2nd birthday.

My daughter also plays with the kitchen, and in the dirt outside. She loooves wearing her little diva sunglasses and ribbons in her hair. So far the only princess thing I’ve allowed in the house is a sippy cup with Abby Cadabby on it. I always opt for Dora if I absolutely have to buy something with a character on it.

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Amy May 24, 2009 at 10:33 pm

yes Dora is much more acceptable, at least she looks like a little girl, and is the rescuer in her adventures, rather than the rescued. Though she is a little… LOUD, isn’t she?

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PandoraAphroite May 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm

My whole problem with the article, which is how I came to read your blog, is that you’re already judging what type of things the your daughter will do. Why not let her choose what she wants? If she’s a tom-boy, let her do that and if she likes pink everything, why not? Also, I worry there’s going to be an odd dynamic between the boys and the girl, especially because kids pick up on so much and they’ll pick up on things that you don’t mean for them to pick up on.

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americanmomma May 25, 2009 at 5:38 am
LucisMomma May 25, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Your article on boys and wondering what the third child would be was very good–I could understand your points. I didn’t want a girl for baby 1 or 2 because of the stinker stepdaughter I got to deal with for a few years (thank God she’s grown up now and on her own). But now we have a daughter, pursued and prayed for. The boys are great, lots of noise and rambunctious as all get-out (whatever that is) but having our girl here is wonderful. She is all girly-girl, and that is fun after all the GI Joes and hot wheels cars. She loves the Princess stuff, but it doesn’t rule her life (or ours). We painted her room green, but now she’s asking for pink–after 2 years of green. 🙂 We’ll find a nice, soft, not too-pink color for that. I just hope she doesn’t want black, goth paint on the walls when she’s a teen. That will take some discussion on why mom doesn’t like that.

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Kelly May 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I have two boys and two girls. I get really tired of the princess and barbie stuff. My oldest daughter is getting too old for it and I can’t find her anything for the holidays. You either have to buy princess and barbie type things, electronics (i.e. things that keep them locked in their rooms all the time), or stuff that is plastered with some pop princess. The boys are so much easier to buy for. I feel your pain.

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Yosha June 16, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I still vehemently disagree with your article. It really bothered me that not only did you prejudged your kid but once again shouted out all the stereotypes of little girls/women.

Of course since it’s your opinion it’s your right to shout from the rooftops if you wish but I had hoped that one would for a moment consider the feelings of others prior to the rooftop shouting. I am talking of my friend who is one of the best people on this world, yet she’s having a hard time carrying a baby to term. You are lucky enough to this 3 times yet whine about the baby’s gender? But I digress this was not the point I wanted to make.

The point I wanted to make was that any child is a product of the environment and more parenting. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but if a kid turns out to be a diva the first look should be at the parents. Did they bend to every whim? Did they set enough boundaries? Not a prison but well balanced. Did they just plop the kids down in front of the TV? I am shocked at some parents who raise kids to believe they are the greatest thing alive. Yes of course your kids are special they should feel loved, yet they should be raised to realize they may not always win, how to be a gracious looser yet have enough confidence to turn around and say I’ll just try again. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but there are many more things out there than princesses and dress up for little girls and the first 3-5 yrs of life I say it is absolutely the parents influence that rules the child’s life, that formats their interests.

The article you pointed out back me on this; everything in moderation.

I believe I am a product of good parenting. Growing up I definitely had my princess play. I had dolls, I had dress up time (though this was more imagination than actual costumes) yet I had boundaries, was taught good manners, was exposed to various types of books and music, eventually TV and movies. I was taught the importance of education, perseverance and good attitude, to name a few. Now I am an aeronautical engineer (I should point out my dad is one as well, while my mom ran/works in a day care) with artistic hobbies (which probably are lingering effects of my princess time) but more importantly I am a productive member of society…

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