28 Oct I Will No Longer Fight a Princess
I grew up with Disney VHS tapes, who didn’t? Yes, many of them had princesses. I loved Aurora’s singing and her transformation. I admired Belle’s wits. Cinderella and her cute little mice, who could resist that? I even grew up a few miles from Disneyland and went there often as a kid.
Somehow, through all the books, tapes, songs, coloring books, and live princess characters who galavanted with soft, sultry voices through my childhood, I still made it through with a mindful reality of love and life.
Shocking as some experts believe, I didn’t turn into an adult with princess-like fantasies. I knew prince charming wasn’t going to ride by on his horse and swoop me up. I realized a beast of a man cannot be changed with a little love. I also knew a fairy godmother was not going to grant me any wish or make my life easier.
When I found out I was having a daughter, I purposely and proactively made plans to evade the princesses-phenomena. I was serious. I didn’t want to overdo it and for some irrational reason I thought I would raise a daughter who would feed into this warped reality. The only problem was my slight belief in these statements: “princess fairy tales make our daughters weak,” “princess ideology is morphing our kids’ sense of reality,” “Disney-fied fairy tales are ruining our children”…blah, blah, blah. Ahhh, the horror, why would they do that?
Yet, I felt I needed this:
Dear grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles-
Please do not buy my daughter any princessy, fairy tale, romanticized gifts (including, but not limited to: books, media, clothing, eating paraphernalia, shoes, costumes, toys, bedding, tattoos, pretend make-up or hair styling toys, costumes, any educational-based gift, coloring books, hats with wigs attached, costumes, or dolls). My daughter is going to be a feminist, educated, reality-based, rational, non-imaginary adult female at some point—hopefully around 18 years, but as research shows more likely in her early 20’s because of our culture and media. I digress. Please adhere to this request and please don’t feed into the princess obsession of little girls and consumerism.
Yikes. Being princess obsessed might be better than that request. Why did I feel this way? Had the exposure to some fairy tales in my youth caused me to be irrational? Did I think exposing my daughter to princesses might influence her more than they influenced me?
I imagined my daughter, as an adult, dressing in full-length gowns, going clubbing every night until she met a dancing prince who would literally sweep her off her feet. They would ride into the sunset in his pumpkin-colored sports car and not live happily ever after.
I had lost the battle with my own reality and rational abilities. I knew I made it out alive, but why didn’t I have the faith in my daughter or in our parenting style? Can I blame it on pre and postpartum delirium? I don’t know. I will not pretend like tiny sewing mice or some dwarves made me do it. I take full ownership of this anti-princess rhetoric.
I wanted to fight this for her.
Then reality struck when against my will a princess jewel-inspired book collection made it (I don’t like to burn books). Aurora, Cinderella, Jasmine, and Ariel snuck their way into our home, resting freely on a bookshelf. My children’s great-grandmother forgot the rule or maybe I forgot to send out that note. Either way, the bright colors and glittery book cover drew much attention from my son. Yes, my son, because at this point my daughter was still an infant and cared more about sucking on her blanket than sucking in the fantasy world of women with flying rugs and fins.
My son became obsessed with Jasmine and Aerial. He loved to have these stories read to him. This went on for weeks until I hid the book high up in the closet for our sanity, only to be found by a magic genie.
This was when I had to reflect and come to reality. Why am I not concerned with reading this to my son, yet I have this stigma set against exposing my daughter? What is wrong with me? Did I think some evil stepmother would cast a spell on my daughter and make her delusional? After all, I was talking to myself a lot and asking all of these questions. Maybe I wasn’t fit to raise a daughter with a strong, analytical sense of reality who could fight off statistics of the princess wrath.
Finally, I realized I needed to reflect on my own interpretation of these women and how unaffected I was by their participation in my childhood. I needed to be confident that I would raise my children to question this reality and have open discussions about critical discourse and princesses. Okay, maybe that is too much, but giving up the fight with the princesses felt good. This pacifistic take on the princesses of the world was a release.
For us (my prince charming and me) it comes down to moderation which, of course, can be applied to any child-rearing topic. And it takes confidence in our goals as parents to know we will raise our children—daughter and son—to appreciate the imagination and the reality of any fairy tale. We can do it. We can let it go. We will no longer fight the princesses.