Thursday, January 20, 2011

Princess - privilege or punishment?

I was sitting in speech class my sophomore year in high school when our teacher began to make a list.

I, being the sheltered girl that I was, sat there in astonishment as my teacher started asking the class different names society had for women - and the entire class started spewing out horrible words, and she wrote each and every one of them on her board.

I don't quite remember her point, but I think it had to do with our words being powerful and lots of ways to say the same thing.

Yet, even 15 years later, I still don't agree that many of those words equate to being a woman, a real woman.

With my girls I constantly encourage them to be whatever they want to be.  Emma wants to be a pediatrician - and she's already collecting stuff for her doctor kit and begs to watch Dr. Oz as much as possible.  Lily is newly 3 and still wants to be Barney...or a singer, it depends on the day.  But regardless, they are both princesses.

Not the helpless, damsel in distress type of princess (although Dave encouraged that when Emma was little by telling her that princesses shouldn't have to walk up stairs.  That stopped when I was the one doing most of the lifting.)  But the royal, special, distinguished, princess.

For two reasons:  1.  Because they are children of God - priceless and wonderful.  2.  Because they are our daughters and need to know that they aren't just happenstance creatures...but they were created for a purpose.

So, when I read an article recently that was talking about how our girls were all princesses now and we are peddling backwards in the woman's right movement by pushing this all pink, uber feminine, doll playing roll on our daughters - I got irritated.

Emma, as we speak, is laying in her bed wearing a Cinderella dress with her stethoscope around her neck.  I don't think princess = entitled.  I think bad parenting, or parenting that is over indulgent (like telling little girls that they shouldn't have to walk) creates entitled, overindulged little girls - but not telling your little girl that she is a princess.  Or letting her wear pink.  Or allowing her to play with dolls and pretend she is a mommy.  Those things would happen, and I am confident that my girls would gravitate towards those things regardless if I called them a princess or solely by their names their entire childhood.

Also, the lady referenced the clothes that the girls are wearing now...some girls are wearing.  The ones that say "Spoiled" or "Princess with an attitude" or whatever.  She used this as an argument against encouraging my little girls to be princesses.  But I would like to say this - if your daughter is wearing a shirt that says "spoiled" or "princess with an attitude," then my guess is it's pretty accurate...or you have no back bone since most little girls don't have their own paychecks and Mommy ends up doing all their clothes shopping.

Society doesn't need to dictate how you raise your children...or what clothes they wear.  My girls are princesses - and you will never see them wear a shirt like that (at least bought on my own dime) and if my girls begin to have a self-entitled attitude and one that is more reminiscent of the other names for women that my speech teacher wrote on the board - then they are not acting like princesses.

Shortly after I read the article my husband and I were driving with the kids over to their grandma' and grandpa's house, when Emma (Princess Emma the Wonderful) started in, "Mommy, I want a gun.  A pink, flower, princess gun.  That I can shoot."

And Lily (Princess Lily the Fabulous) quickly followed, "Purple Barney gun..." little princesses.


Nama Halacy's Comfy Cottage

I so agree, a princess is a term used because they are special. All little girls are special and therefore they are all pricesses in some way, even the little soccer playing tomboys!


I wouldn't take issue with children dressing up at all, it is role play and very important for their development if one wanted to choose that direction. But it is also just good fun. I have one daughter, after two boys, and she is drawn to pink and honestly, it is herself and her choices because I don't like pink but she just loves it! Anyway, I tend to agree with you, there is a happy medium and go Emma for wanting to be a Doctor :) Jen (there is a mention of you over at mine, no point in getting a compliment if you don't know about it!)


:) Did you see the pictures Amy Bell posted on Facebook today? So fun! Such a different world than mine. :)

Sarah @ Picture Window

You're totally right that it's what parents do with the concept of their daughters being "princesses" that's important. It doesn't always (and shouldn't!) mean sparkly t-shirts with obnoxious phrases on them. But, I must say that the princess phenomenon does bother me because it's been so highly commercialized into lots of cheap pink sparkly plastic stuff, and as a teacher I see lots of little girls who spend their lives covered in that stuff from head to toe and have attitudes to match.

Great post!

Also, I passed on an award to you today:

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