Thursday, April 28, 2011

Princess Revisted: A New Line in the Sand

Sometimes, the best choice is surrender.

Last week, the kids emptied their piggy banks to buy scooters at Target.  The toddler scooter, the kind that won't tip over when your two-year-old daughter rides it, came in exactly one color.  Princess.
Cate didn't want a princess scooter.  She just wanted a scooter.  Like her brothers', but without the falling over.  I had no meaningful choice.  I bought a princess scooter.

But, I think I'm at peace with it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote of my distaste for all things princess, and her marketing half-sister, the fairy.  I used terms of disdain, and questioned their moral character.  I stand by that.  But, I have new information.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter, a new book by Peggy Orenstein, is an actual, intellectual discussion of this very topic.  It turns out, the whole princess thing might not be so evil.  It might, in fact, be normal.

I haven't actually read the book.  (Hardback, expensive, too time consuming.)  But, I read the review in People Magazine.  (Glossy, quick read, includes celebrity baby news.)  According to the review, Orenstein puts it like this:  Little girls don't know that gender is immutable.  They could turn into boys at any moment.  Clinging to princess culture is their way of telling the world, "I'm a girl, and I want to keep it that way, thank you very much."  They don't care about subtext.  They just want to wear a pretty dress.

This makes sense to me; or it may be a load of bunk.  Who knows for sure?  The blurb in People Magazine  did not reference any research or sources.  (Shoddy reporting!  Not what one would expect from a publication with Snookie on the cover.)  But, I'm comforted by the idea that one Ariel costume and a tiara does not mean my little girl is doomed to a life of unhappy relationships and an eating disorder.

I still don't want to buy Cinderella home-decor.  (Or, have it given to my daughter as a gift.  Do you hear that grandparents, aunts, and cookie ladies from church?)  But, it is getting harder and harder to avoid all things princess.   We even bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast, because the dancing tea pot is classic, and, as Hubband pointed out, "Belle is not a princess until the end."  A distinction without a difference, I know.  Cate spent the first half of the movie asking, "Why frincess sad, Mommy.  Why frincess sad?"  Yes, she says, "F-rincess."

I cannot win this one.  Not really.  So, I give up.  Do you hear that Disney?  I surrender.  I am waving my white flag.  Until Barbie tries to snatch it out of my hands to wear as a slutty halter top.  Then it's on, baby!

The first picture is from the blog Disney Princess Recovery.  
I went to steal borrow steal the picture,
(Which she stole from Disney, so I feel no shame.  
Though the moral relativism is making me dizzy.) 
and decided to follow.  
I have only poked around a little, but it is an interesting read so far, 
if you want to go and check it out.


  1. Ah yes, the inevitable surrender has happened, but it's good to see you will not be going quietly!
    I see I have a lot to catch up on your blog.

  2. Oh, yes. A long time ago now, I blogged myself a little rant about the whole pink, princess, cute girlie thing which is entirely alien to any sane woman's psyche, but seems to be a necessity for any little girls' psyche. I can't get to grips with it either and do all I can to avoid the whole thing with my girls. But as you say, it's not always that easy and sometimes the pink thing is the only choice in the whole damn shop. I'm not getting away with boy's shoes anymore with Martha, but we're still going strong with Hattie! Good luck. And p.s. thanks for sticking by my blog.