Reposts are from a blog I started when my girls were younger. I’ve changed nothing about their content so you can read my thinking process when my girls were younger. “Princesses Analysis” was the most read post ever on my blog. To mothers of young girls who worry about such things. RELAX. From three years later, I would say, yes, talk to your girls about the myths of princesshood, but let them play. My Bird, who really really really loved dresses is now an athletic girl, always wearing athletic clothing, tennis shoes and t-shirts. Once in a while though, she still loves to sparkle!
Since taking their first steps, my girls have amused family, friends, and neighbors with excessive displays of all that is fancy: shiny shoes, sequins, twirly dresses, jewelry, and layers of tulle. I suspect my retired neighbors had many head shakes when we first moved in as they looked out their windows and saw my girls dancing, skipping, and twirling outside in tutus, princess dresses, and cat costumes.
Bird started having strong opinions about her clothing at 2 ½ when my mom bought her a long blue dress with cherries on it. She suddenly would not let me pick out her clothing and preferred to only wear the cherry dress. For a while I made her wear pants every other day so we would not waste all the nice clothes family had purchased for her. For whatever reason, God made Bird to love beautiful, fancy clothing. Her tendencies certainly don’t come from the way I dress. Bug, being the little sister, has followed in Bird’s footsteps. The girls feel beautiful if their clothing is beautiful.
Such an early attraction to clothing and fancy things alarmed me. And Disney wasn’t helping. They put fancily-clad princesses on everything from toothbrushes and fruit snacks to lunch boxes and clothing. Neither is the general population who often greeted my young girls with phrases like, “You must be a princess.” And so began my first real clash with culture. My girls pined to watch princess movies. They begged to wear their princess dress-up clothes. None of this seems so bad, but the subtle messages of the princess movies and the way my girls equated looking beautiful to goodness and virtue alarmed me. I didn’t think it wise to ban princesses entirely. So I tried education and redirection.
I allowed my girls to watch some of the Disney princess movies, if they were not too scary. I read to them short book versions of the famous tales so they would be familiar with the stories. I shared my opinions too.
“Mommy doesn’t like Sleeping Beauty, ” I would tell them. Of course they want to know why I wouldn’t love this beautiful princess dressed in pink. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are not admirable princesses in my opinion. They sing well, fall under evil spells and get rescued by princes to live happily ever after. Cinderella is better as she is kind to the people who treat her like dirt. But I bristle at the end where marrying the prince equals happy ever after. Belle is my favorite Disney princess. Belle has admirable qualities: intelligence(she loves books), sacrificial love for her father (she voluntarily trades places with him in the Beast’s prison). She is not fooled by the antics of the handsome man and is able to see goodness in the literal face of the ugly. Ariel is the worst as she spends the entire movie disobeying her father. The movie makes her rebellious decisions seem like the right thing by implying Eric will bring forever happiness. I hope my opinions have helped counter the messages of the movie. My girls know that being pretty princesses does not equal automatic admiration.
I’ve also tried to redirect the girls’ interests somewhat. I have allowed dress up clothing so I don’t totally squash who they are. But I tend to encourage animal play, art work and imagination through the toys I purchase or request for holidays. T does his part by complementing their natural beauty when they are in jeans or PJs (and not withholding complements on special occasions) and by telling made-up stories about a princess who does things like give away her fancy clothes to peasants who are shivering and wears her PJs everywhere instead.Some people think I over analyze this issue. My girls are so young. Relax they say. I can’t. I may never know if my efforts to educate really made any difference. Bird has a natural bend toward the romantic idealism of the princess world that I feel a need to combat. I want her to draw her strength and joy from Christ and not expect it from beauty or the companionship of a man. In writing my thoughts, maybe there a mom reading this who hasn’t thought about the “beauty and prince = happily ever after” messages of the princess movie. Maybe they should. And maybe you have a boy or a girl who doesn’t care about fancy clothes or princesses, you can breath a sigh of relief on this one.
Oh and if you want another earful, you can ask me my opinions about the Barbie princess movies.I have lots of them=).