I have a really love-hate relationship with princesses. I don’t like to characterize girls as little princesses. I think of all the negative connotations of the word– spoiled, materialistic, blond-haired, blue eyed, helpless women that need saving. I tend to think that Disney movies are melodramatic and always have the meaner or evil girls with dark hair, or at the very least, ugly features (like the stepsisters in Cinderella).
I loved it when Azita was younger and enjoyed characters, like Lightning McQueen and Horton, that weren’t girly and pink– or even girls.
But now it’s all princesses this and princesses that. She wants the prettiest dress and she tells me that she wants everyone to think that her dress is the prettiest of all.
I know I can’t tie her liking princesses to materialism, superficiality, caring what others think of her instead of what she thinks of herself. It’s not that black and white.
And I have to admit the complexity of my own feelings since I want to buy her Tinkerbell and different pretty Barbie dolls each time we see them at the store! It’s silly, maybe, but probably normal to want to get her things I played with as a child. I hate the princess books though. I much prefer reading her Leo Leonni from the library and the newest book on display about another part of the world.
So I’ve been sent a link to this article discussing how the princess constume has now gotten mass-marketed, and what’s interesting is that just the other day I was discussing with a friend of mine how Tinkerbell costumes are so limiting to the child’s imagination. She begs for that costume… and I tell her that we can dress up with our pieces of fabric at home and still be Tinkerbell, but she insists she needs to buy the Tinkerbell dress.
This week I decided to institute a no-TV-until-I’m-making-dinner rule. We’ve played dress up twice. Azita declared me a Chinese lady (I was wearing a piece of fabric wrapped up and it did look like a Kimono. I did correct her and tell her it looked more like a Japanese dress. Ada spent the morning wearing a tutu, no shirt, a cowgirl hat, and singing in a microphone. Azita was a Hawaiin girl, with a grass skirt, staying at my hotel and ordering food.
I’d say a successful week in refueling the imagination.
I don’t have a problem with princesses and fairy tales persay. I don’t think kids get the messages behind them, but if you are a thoughtful parent you can help them to see those morals at some point. I realized, through talking about this stuff and with this article, it’s more the mass marketing of princessism that gets me.
And my friend Lori is right— Tinkerbell and the fairies are better, because they build stuff! That’s a better role model than a princess.