Recently my WMAG colleague Kristi wrote this piece about princesses…or against princesses I should say. As always, her entry was well written and thought-provoking. But after mulling it over for a couple of days, I have to say I respectfully disagree.
Before I launch into my counterpoint, let me say that I consider myself to be emphatically pro-woman and borderline feminist on most topics. I loathe weak women stereotypes as much as the next Dorthy Parker wannabe and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what kinds of female personas to expose my daughter to as she grows up. That said, I’m kinda ok with ladies of the princess persuasion. Here’s why:
Youth Has Its Privileges: My daughter Peachy has the rest of her existence to come to the realization that life is hard. She will learn, princess exposure or not, that there’s no easy button, no free ride, and no prince to save her arse. She has her whole adult life to face adversity and struggle to find her own identity as a woman. She should be allowed to have these few and fleeting years to believe that she is safe, taken care of, and incredibly special. While I will work to teach her that male companionship does not define her, she deserves to believe that a wonderful man will one day enter her life and make her feel beautiful everyday. She will have many years in her profession of choice to wear ugly gray business suits and sensible shoes. I’m ok giving her a couple of years to see what it feels like to twirl around in a princess gown.
Princesses Aren’t The Problem: Weak, feeble, and needy female characters surround us. For every Jane Eyre, there are a hundred Anna Kareninas. A quick brainstorm brings about a slew of confused and relatively helpless/hapless lasses: Daisy Gatsby, Bella Swan, Bridget Jones, Lady Macbeth, any character ever portrayed by Jennifer Aniston. For every Hester Prynne, Laura Croft, or Hermione Granger there are a million Peg Bundys clouding our daughters’ visions of what a strong woman looks like. So maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather have Peachy idolizing princess Belle (who teaches us that in the quest for true love, a guy with heart is where it’s at) than worshiping the Miley/Lohan/Kardashian contingency.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is everything in moderation. I certainly don’t want my daughter growing up with a chip on her shoulder – boasting a sense of entitlement and afraid to get her hands dirty. But I also don’t want her to miss these few years of her life where make-believe feels real and wearing a princess gown out in public is considered endearing. Our children are getting all sorts of inputs and ideas – our job as parents is to give those inputs context and strive to strike the balance between dreaming and doing. And who knows…if we do it well we might have our own cast of strong and unflappable female characters.