Princesses … do we have too many of them?

Georgia is very into being a princess.

She does switch between being Rapunzel, a fairy princess and a bit of fairy and a bit of a princess – she is constantly telling me her powers are attributed to her hair (I think a Samson story combined with a fairy princess complex).

I do not know a great deal about princesses.  When I read through the story books lying around, princesses do appear to be very attractive young girls, who seem to suffer some hardship or another, usually which involves a wicked stepmother.

The only thing that will save them is a prince who will sweep them off and marry them.

Based on the fairy tales – a princess needs to be super attractive, have lush hair, an attractive smile, and pretty much no future aspirations of any kind.

The fact that a prince wondering through the woods takes a fancy to them, and offers to marry them on the spot, seems to be the highest point of achievement in their lives.  It unfortunately also counters our constant admonishings of STRANGER-DANGER!!

I am always been a bit wary of these handsome titled men who traipse through the woods alone.  I think we would call them “displaced persons” or homeless.

Why is a prince alone in the woods?  Where is his retinue of staff?

If you saw a dead girl surrounded by 7 small people/dwarfs – would you reason that now is a good time to hop off your horse and wander over there to see if you can have a quick snog?  Really, does that sound like a great idea?

Did he think his kiss would wake the dead?  Let’s agree he has rather an inflated god complex going on, and maybe a touch of the strange, either way not attributes you want in someone you are marrying.

Cinderalla’s beau has always concerned me the most.  She gets herself all dolled up, for the ball, spends the night dancing with him, midnight strikes, she dashes, she leaves her shoe, and he finds her shoe.

Prince No-Recall-of-Facial-Features-but-clearly-with-a-foot-fetish then traipses all over his kingdom with a shoe for the ladies to try on.  You would think he would be able to recognise his great love – but nope shoe trying it is.

If I had danced with the prince and dropped my size six and  a half shoe, he would have been able to find 4 girls in my street alone whose foot would fit my shoe.

Even when he is in the house where Cinderalla lives, and she enters the room, he still does not recognise her face, her manner, her voice. Only when her foot fits the shoe does he have a eureka moment of recognition.  Weird much?

Rapunzel’s beau does not think that after climbing HER HAIR up a tower.  He does not think, well this must cause her a great deal of discomfort, next time let me bring some crampons and my own rope.  Or better yet, let me use my princely powers to rescue her.

Nope he just goes on climbing up the poor girls hair until Rapunzel’s step mother throws him into some thorns.

There is a great deal of emphasis on referring to little girls as “my princess” and little girls being obsesses with princesses – but what are these images and stories teaching our girls in terms of what they should aspire to?

Other than a tiara, and a wand and flouncing around in really pretty pink outfits, what are we telling them?

What is the point of being a princess, other than being pretty and waiting on your prince to come along and rescue them?

History has shown that princesses’ role was to marry well – her father who would use her in arranged marriages for his kingdom’s political gain.  And once that was done, her role was to produce an heir or die trying.  Princesses though living lavish lives, were going it in gilded prisons, so why do we continue to hold this ideal out to our daughters and encourage them to be “princesses?”

I would feel so much if my girls were playing lawyer-lawyer, doctor-doctor or actuary-actuary.

I wish my girls would don capes and fly around the house telling me they are super hero’s, instead of princesses having yet another stupid tea party.

Does anyone have any idea of good “character” role models for girls right now hopefully in a book and a movie?

I feel a bit overwhelmed with the Hello Kitty, Rapunzel, Princess Aurora and others of her ilk.

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11 Comments

  1. I really like the Barbie DVD’s. A Mermaid’s Tale (which I myself have seen I think 25 times), is all about empowering women. The Barbie (can’t think of her name now) saves her mother, on her own, with no prince. There’s even Barbie Three Musketeers, I just likes those DVD’s. This coming from a mom who only let’s her children watch Lollos and Wielie Walie.

    Reply
  2. Hilary

     /  December 3, 2012

    “If I had danced with the prince and dropped my size six and a half shoe, he would have been able to find 4 girls in my street alone whose foot would fit my shoe.” LOL I nearly snorted some tea through my nose.

    Reply
  3. Yvonne

     /  December 2, 2012

    You do make some very valid points and have given me food for thought, however I do think one must also be careful not to overthink these things entirely. From a child’s point of view these stories are entertaining and magical – maybe we should just leave it at that! Of course if that is all they are exposed to it could be a problem, but add in a few ‘off the wall’ movies like “Brave”, some books like Babette Cole’s “Princess Smartypants” and they’ll surely grow up with a fairly balanced view of the world.

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  4. Belinda Ross

     /  December 1, 2012

    I agree totally, these Princesses just sit around waiting to be rescued……pathetic! But I must just point out Cinderella’s foot was so very tiny that there was none like it in the Kingdom hence it could not be muddled with any other. Your size six and a half is a bit common, sorry!!!

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  5. I am totally with you on this. Princess is not an aspiration it should be an option for dress up (for girls AND boys). I can’t find it at my local book store but I would really love to read “Cinderella ate my daughter” by Peggy Orenstein. It’s crazy to see the GIRL section in the toy store and they are all domestic or beauty. Then the BOYS section is action, and for some reason all of the science toys are on that side, it doesn’t technically say BOYS but the juxtaposition leaves you wondering.

    A lot of disney movies have horrible messages for our kiddlehoppers, heck in The Little Mermaid, Ariel sells her voice for a pair of legs, so a dude she has never met will love her!

    Brave I suppose is the best “princess” so far in the message of choosing your own destiny. It still has it’s own package of problems.

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  6. This is a tough question. The dream is still for little girls to marry and have children.

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  7. Anel

     /  November 30, 2012

    Yes. Nicely put. Have two boys of 9 and 7 and now my girl has turned 1. Struggling to get outfits that are not all pink. If I manage to accomplish that, my friends and family would frown upon me and buy lavish pink things. I don’t have a problem with pink. But it is neither a neutral, nor a base colour. It hitches onto the princess thing. One worse thing I have noticed, however, is the selection of toys: tea sets, ironing boards, irons, stoves, pink lap tops, pink phones, toasters, kitchenettes, hair dryers, microwave ovens.. Dear Goodness. PLEASE! Nice to hear there are a few nice and balanced role models out there – albeit scarce…

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  8. Princess Fiona from Shrek is not too bad, and she throws a mean punch too! And I like Mulan a lot, we play that one often. She also loves Dora the explorer (and her spanish is coming along nicely too).

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  9. This is why I’m quite glad not to have had a girl haha! It’ll pass and with a wise ma like you she’ll be fine, your Georgia.

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  10. go over to Julia’s post today she did the exact same post from the opposite side of the coin!

    Reply
  11. I hear you on this issue! Ava also has this thing that she’s a Princess and while she is my little princess and I want her to always feel cherished and loved and treasured, I do try to remind myself that modern day princess are well educated, intelligent, well spoken poised women who are more than just damsels in distress and I hope I can raise Ava to be that kind of Princess.
    Ava’s current roll model is Dora The Explorer! Definitely no damsel in distress, a girl who is fluid in two languages and kind and compassionate to animals and always out on an adventure, that’s the kind of girl I’d like Ava to be!

    Reply

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