You either allow it or you loathe it. You encourage it or actively defy it. You’re in or you are totally out.
The Princess Machine is the overtaking of all things pink and princess related that penetrate our homes the moment we bring a daughter home from the hospital. It feels impossible to stop, and yet, I think there can be a way to enjoy what can celebrate strength in girls without promoting over simplified, lack of character behavior.
When it comes to the world of princesses, many parents have very strong feelings about it one way or another. I was nervous when we found out we were having a daughter, because as much as I danced in a twirly dress as a young girl, I didn’t want that to be all there was for her. I didn’t want her identity as a girl to fall into the typical princess constraints. I wanted her to be challenged mentally, to be appreciated for what she thinks and for her strengths, not what she wears or who she is waiting to have rescue her.
Is there a possible happy medium between the obsessive and the abstinence? I believe there can be.
In order to curb our exposure to the Princess Machine and create a well-balanced knowledge of fairy tales, folklore, and stories, we try to live by these simple guidelines.
- Our kids can watch Disney Princess movies, they just aren’t going to do it every day or even every weekend. We are intentional about how often they are watched and we mix them in with other great classics filled with strong characters and powerful story lines.
- If my kids suddenly start having a love affair with Cinderella, that doesn’t mean I have to buy Cinderella sheets, plates and cups, dresses, coats, underwear, dolls, coloring books, shoes, curtains, etc. You can love the movie, but minimize all the hype by sticking to non-character clothes and decor. By keeping your money in your wallet, you don’t idolize the character, and she simply becomes one character among many to love.
- We read our kids stories where the heroine is something other than a princess. There are so many great books out there filled with strong, silly and courageous characters. Being exposed to a Disney Princess isn’t that big of a deal if it’s balanced out with other strong characters. However if your child loves princess’, try these great unconventional princess stories. This is a great website with helpful insight. http://www.buildingalibrary.com/picture-books/six-princess-books-for-parents-who-really-really-hate-princess-books/212
Need a website to start searching for non princess books that feature a strong female lead? https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/books-with-strong-female-characters and http://www.amightygirl.com/books
4. If we don’t want our daughter to become obsessed with princesses, then we certainly aren’t going to call her one. At the same time, while watching a Princess movie, we try to point out the other characters involved in the movie. We focus on the characteristics of the princess that make her strong and courageous. We have found that the words we use to describe the character help shape her understanding of what a princess is.
Yesterday in celebration of being creative little women, we hosted a Tea Party. We let the girls play dress up and have a dance party. There was a combination of traditional princess dresses, but what stood out to me, was how the girls wore clothes and accessories that they liked and were drawn to. Some homemade…some a collection of store bought and vintage jewelry. They found items that made them feel fun, not mimicking a character that they just had to be like. They wanted to be themselves, and it was beautiful.
Combating the Princess Machine isn’t about shaming a child if they like pink or love princesses, but there is also a responsibility to help our children see that there is more to the world…to carefully curate what they watch and are influenced by…to give them the tools they need to be well rounded, strong, confident, smart citizens that enhance the world they live in. We can do that by fostering imagination, emphasizing how cool it is to be smart and strong, and reading books about princesses that can rescue themselves, thank you very much.
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