Y'know. Every so often someone writes an article* about the negative impact of little girls dressing up as princesses and it really sticks in my craw. So I've decided to write about it, even though questioning this topic might look like I'm missing some sort of important point while living in the dark ages waiting to be rescued.
I understand that the Princess myth doesn't fit into reality. Write about the princess themed merchandise that makes up a $4.4 billion dollar industry and the phrases 'women's oppression,' 'bad role model,' and 'pandemic' inevitably come up. The hidden dangers lurk everywhere waiting to ensnare little girls with tiaras, dresses, puzzles, books, and movies. Speaking of movies, the Disney company "shamelessly profits" by releasing yet another princess movie. The conspiracy to appeal to little girls of all nationalities and cultures is clearly apparent with Disney's new African American princess.
Today's informed parent should protect all of their children from ever stepping foot in a toy store lest they be accosted by a princess themed item that their daughter cannot obviously live without. Shield the eyes of your child. Take the moral high ground when you see Princess costumes in the street on Halloween. Tsk tsk, you say to yourself. If only those parents knew that they were perpetuating a myth, that it's unhealthy for little girls to dress up and pretend. Better to focus your efforts on moulding your child into your definition of success.
It's easy to use Diana or Princess Masako of Japan as a parable of how royalty doesn't live happily ever after. Or speculate on the downfall of royal marriages. Extreme examples only show the one side. Must we rewrite Cinderella, revealing the cold hard reality to our children? Isn't this why those stories end with 'And they lived happily ever after?' The story-tellers knew the reality way back then didn't they? Another conspiracy. But useful. When feminists run out of things to write, at least they've got the princess myth to complain about.
Sometimes I wonder whether we're not giving our children enough credit for being able to see past this fantasy. Children who once believed in Santa Claus are not scarred for life once they find out he isn't real. Must the desire to have the latest Princess barbie doll lead to the downfall of the women's movement? Is it really that important?
Obviously to some, it is. But do those same people analyse the impact on society when boys pretend to be knights in shining armour? Isn't that just as unrealistic? Maybe I'm biased because of my interest in royalty. Or the fact that as a little girl, I too wanted to be a princess. I eventually grew out of it because it was just a dream. Regardless of how unrealistic, I won't stop my daughter from dressing up like a princess, or playing make believe with the idea. Because there's nothing wrong with it.
© Marilyn Braun 2008
* This article was inspired by a posting on the World of Royalty Blog.
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