Baby CG and I are enjoying an easy Sunday morning, watching Disney’s Aladdin on cable, no doubt the effect of dear Robin William’s death last Monday. Well, I am watching Aladdin, and CG is sleeping in her swing.
I was ten years old when Disney’s Little Mermaid came out, and oh, how I loved Ariel and her undersea adventures. I learned all of her songs and tried to sound just like her. Aladdin was the first movie I watched in theatre more than once. The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas–it didn’t matter that I was getting older. The magic of the Disney movie didn’t fade for me. I loved the colorful animation and the songs… Never once in my memory do I remember wanting to be a princess. My parents never called me their princess, either. Brat, yes. Princess, no.
On my first visit to Downtown Disney in 2008, I noticed their little “princess factory” shop, or whatever it is called. A little girl sat in a salon chair near the shop window, waiting as she was transformed into one of the Disney princesses. Her hair was being slicked back into a high bun and sprinkled with glitter. I wondered to myself what that indulgence was costing her parents and thanked the stars that I had a son. I greet numerous princesses at my door every Halloween. It is not difficult to find clothing screen-printed with “princess” across the rear end or the chest. If I wanted, I could have a license plate cover bejeweled and adorned with the word Princess. It seems that everyone wants to be a princess these days.
I cringed when someone commented under one of my daughter’s pictures on Facebook that she was her “daddy’s princess.” I made it clear to my husband before she was born that she would not under any circumstances be referred to as a princess. I let the comment go because my friends don’t know that we don’t have a princess. Yes, she is beautiful. Yes, she is special to us. Yes, she is loved. Adored, even. But she is not our princess. We call her our little lady. We call her our sweetheart. Our sweet, little, cupcake. We never call her a princess. And that’s the thing. She is special… to us. She is our gift.
I cannot buy-in to this princess concept that seems to have caught such great momentum since I became an adult. Seemingly everyone is a princess now. And what are princesses like in these movies? Ariel disobeys her father–the king–because she is 16 and “not a child.” Typical teenager. Great role model there. Cinderella was abused by her step-mother, so it’s no wonder she was so willing to run away with a man she barely knew. Not such a smart move there, Cinderelly. Sleeping Beauty–another one waiting for a man to save her. Entitled much?
I know I say now I will not have a princess living in my house. Those will be my famous last words until my daughter wants to be a princess. And of course since I’ve said this, now I have sealed her fate and she will most definitely want her tiara and princess costumes. But I do not want my daughter growing up thinking she will be catered to like a little princess. I don’t want her waiting on a man to rescue her or do anything for her. I want to teach her how to check her oil and change a tire on her car. I want her to be able to identify the different tools in the toolbox and know how to use them. I don’t want her waiting for the gentleman to put his coat down over a puddle so she can cross the street. Hell no. Your pretty little feet are getting muddy and wet, sweetheart! Your shoes are just shoes. Get ’em wet.
I am sure she will dance on her daddy’s feet. I am sure I will lace her braids with ribbons if she likes that sort of thing. We can have tea parties and paint our toenails with glittery polishes. We can have tea parties and pretend for a little while that we are princesses. But I will not refer to her as my little princess. I will not buy her a tee-shirt, or pencils, or lunch boxes labeling her as such. At the end of the day, she is a little girl like all the others. She is special to me, but not to the world. There will be other little girls who feel they are God’s gift to humanity and deserve a princess’ treatment and entourage, and whose parents support this. My daughter will not learn to have those expectations. At least she won’t learn those expectations from me.