I’m a feminist through and through but when I was pregnant with my daughter, I made a vow to myself. I swore that I would not impress my views upon my child. I wouldn’t force her to wear yellow and green instead of pink (or blue, I guess). I wouldn’t buy her all gender neutral toys instead of Barbies and baby dolls. But I also promised I wouldn’t force her to be a ballerina instead of soccer star. Rather, I wanted her to decide who she was going to be in a world that was changing. Even if I am a fist-pumping, wannabe bra-burning, scowly-faced feminist.
For the first six years of her life she lived in pink and purple dresses. We played with My Little Ponies. And she decided she was much more of a “dance girl” than a t-ball player. And I was cool with that. Now at eight, she’s coming into her own and is defining who she is. She’s spent more time lately playing with boys in the neighborhood than girls, hoping they’ll let her throw the football once in a while. Her favorite color is teal, and she’s way more into riding her scooter and collecting cool looking rocks while donning denim shorts and t-shirts than playing Pretty, Pretty Princess. And I’m cool with this too.
Yet everything I see marketed to her is still centered around the fairytale idea of the “princess.”
And I get it. We have decades and decades of classic Disney movies marketed to generations of girls and I don’t begrudge that. Who can’t recite (read: sing) the lyrics to the opening song of Beauty and The Beast? I mean, if you yell from the kitchen “I need six eggs” and your spouse doesn’t reply with “That’s too expensive” from the next room – divorce them immediately. If you don’t, as an adult, jam to every single song in The Princess and The Frog, I don’t even fucking know you.
But this idea that we need to treat girls and women “like princesses” leaves a burning feeling in the pit of my stomach akin to “four-pieces-of-pizza-at-midnight” heartburn. Every single time I see an innocent Insta-caption reading “Saturday afternoon with my little princess,” I die a little inside, even though I know your intentions were benevolent. Are we, as a society, telling girls that they deserve more than boys; that they’re superior based on gender alone and that they deserve something special based on culturally-reiterated delusion? And isn’t the fairytale bound to disappoint?
We teach girls that they’re princesses and that boys should be chivalrous just like the hero prince archetype in Snow White, kissing us alive and awake when the need arises and saving us from the poison apple or that Prince Charming will come searching for us, clear hooker heel in hand.
But the fact is that John Smith was the likely rapist of Pocahontas, Aladdin was a pathological liar and the Beast was as asshole at best and abusive at worst.
Let’s try something new and not set our girls up for disappointment and failure. Let’s not allow them to believe they get to wear a tiara and make demands. Let’s skip glorifying somehow culturally-significant films that instruct our girls on a debutante lifestyle and the royal treatment, assuring them that a boy will come along and cure all of their ills.
Instead, let’s teach them to be the problem-solver who will cure their own ills. And let’s instruct them on the value of self-sufficiency and being your very own Pit bull.
And most of all, can you please stop referring to my daughter as a princess?
Do you use the “princess” vernacular with your own kids? Why or why not?