When I first learned that Miss was a girl, I was so excited. I had all sorts of thoughts about being a mom to a little girl. Things I wanted to teach her and show her. I remember some family members teasing that she would be “such a princess” and having a yucky gut reaction to that statement. I guess I’ve always had a little bit of a negative feeling towards the “Princess Attitude.” That’s how I think of the attitude of some girls and women that they are entitled to things, that the don’t have to work hard, that they’re better than others, that they can’t get dirty or play rough or do things for themselves, that they’re helpless but that others are obligated to help them, that the most important things in life are having fancy things and having others cater to their whims, etc. I’ve known people like this. I do not want my girls to be like this. This is my “Princess Issue” and what I reacted to negatively in my gut when others teased that my daughter would be a princess.
However, somewhere along the line, my dislike of the “Princess Attitude” turned into an aversion to all things “Princess.” Part of this is that I really don’t like how absurdly commercialized the “Disney Princess” brand has become. Everywhere you look the Disney gals are plastered on toys and books, clothing and everything else. So my reaction was to not buy anything for Miss or Lass with these girls on it. I started feeling annoyed with Snow White, who, let’s face it, is pretty vapid and not too smart (what kind of a dummy would take anything to eat from that scary old woman??). I scorned Sleeping Beauty. I admit I don’t remember the whole story, but didn’t she just sleep through it and look pretty until some guy came along and kissed her? Puh-lease. I even avoided Cinderella and Belle, who at least had a little gumption in their stories. But, over time I started realizing I was being a little extreme. I was trying to avoid the annoying overly-commercialized “Disney Princess” junk, but in doing so I lost something.
I was missing out on the fun part of playing princess with my little girls and reading them the stories that the Disney movies were based on. I almost even forgot that the stories didn’t originate with Walt Disney and in fact are very old and rich tales, told by many different authors, probably most notably the Brothers Grimm. The problem is, these days it’s not easy to find an old version of these fairy tales. I’d even settle for the Little Golden Book version of them, which are based on the Disney movie versions of the stories and are what I remember having as a little girl. The last time I looked in the book section of Target they didn’t even have any Little Golden Books and the princess story book they did have was some weird compilation of spin off-tales of each of the characters. Not what I was looking for.
My point is that I have had to remind myself from time to time that “princess” does not equal “Princess Attitude.” My girls are not prissy. They’re not afraid to get dirty or play rough. We try to teach them to be the opposite of the attitude I described above. I’m not worried that they’ll develop the attitude, so I probably ought to lighten up on the anti-princess campaign around here. Okay, I don’t really have a campaign, I just tend to avoid Disney Princess crap, which is mostly what is out there for princess stuff.
When Miss’s flower girl dress came a few weeks ago and I took her to have it fitted, I mentioned to her that it was her “princess dress” and she looked just like a beautiful princess, and so on. When we went to pick it up the other day I almost cried it was so adorable on her. She twirled and pranced in front of the gazillion mirrors in the David’s Bridal alterations fitting room. She even ran into one of the mirrors because there were so many they confused her! She didn’t want to take the dress off, and it made me smile that she loved it so much. She doesn’t really have a super interest in being a princess, since I’ve not really gone there with the princess stuff. She hasn’t seen the movies. She only has one toy (a purse) with Snow White on it. She’s played with some stickers of the Disney princesses and she has a plate and bowl with pictures of them, but that’s about it. I really would like to read her the fairy tales though. And yes, eventually we will watch the movies too.
I hope that my girls will be well-rounded. Maybe partly tom-boy and partly girly-girl. Or whatever the heck they want. They can play swords, they can play princess, they can play warrior princess with swords, whatever.
I think my job is just to let them try all sorts of things, from making mud pies to baking real pies, playing kick ball to playing dress up, and everything in between. They’ll let me know what they love and that will make me happy.