Raising a princess
I’ve always been interested in books about society and girls/women. I probably should have at least taken a Women’s Studies class in college, but alas, I am fairly stubborn.
Anyway, I bought Peggy Orenstein’s “Cinderella At My Daughter” not long after it came out in 2012 (mostly because I had read “Schoolgirls” and thought it was brilliant). I’ll be honest: I don’t remember much about it (it’s been awhile), and a friend borrowed it a few years ago and never returned it (don’t you hate that?). So, it’s on my list of books to re-read.
But, the whole “my girl is a princess” idea has become a genre unto itself since then. When I put “my daughter is a princess” into Google, one of its suggested search phrases is “7 ways you’re hurting your daughter’s future”. Yikes! People feel very strongly both for an against the idea of princesses (you can quickly fall into the online rabbit hole.)
I haven’t dealt with the princess struggle with my own daughter just yet, so maybe I am being too naive about it, but I struggle a bit to see why it’s such a big deal. Yes, I totally get that the Disney princess that I grew up with (Snow White, Belle, etc) are bad feminists. But, I also dressed up as Belle for two consecutive Halloweens. So I have a soft spot in my heart.
However, I DO totally get that the princess problem is more widespread now. When I was a kid in the 90’s there weren’t that many options for princess toys and dress up clothes, so my friends and I supplemented with Rainbow Bright (can we bring her back!?) and My Little Pony (the original was SO much better than the trash they’ve turned it into…)… but I digress.
I recently picked up “The Feminist’s guide to Raising a Princess” by Devorah Blachor in the bookstore because it looked funny. And it is funny – but sometimes a little too off-humor for me. When she gets down to serious points, they are well-taken. For example:
“Girls additionally get the message that being assertive is bad, as is being too smart or adventurous or strong. Even being sad is frowned upon. We are meant to be cheery in order not to inconvenience others, whether we’re at the office or walking down the street or discussing national security, (pg. 144).”
“From a young age, girls are encouraged to be inauthentic because when they speak their mind, they’re called aggressive. When they express emotion, they’re dismissed as weak and annoying… Girls and women are expected to be docile, perfect beings… The expectation to be perfect is what underlies the beauty industry, the advertising industry, the enormous volume of books and articles dedicated to achieving professional and parenting success, and internet culture in general. (pg. 210).
So, what do we do? Rebecca Hains’ “The Princess Problems” is the more serious version of “The Feminist’s Guide to Raising a Little Princess” and throughout the book she has a few ways to deal with the princess problem:
- Setting healthy media boundaries for kids. This includes how long they watch tv/movies/etc and what they are actually watching.
- Talking about marketing tactics with your kids as they mature. Like asking, “what do you think they are trying to sell?” “what message are they sending when they do/say this…?” etc.
- Especially for girls, balance praise of how they look with praise for things they do/create.
You knew I would have some book ideas. Rebecca Hains has a few different lists, as does A Mighty Girl. Here’s some of my favorites:
Books about liking yourself and how you look:(I know these are for little littles, so I’m on the hunt for books for older girls as well… send me suggestions!)
Books about princesses who don’t need a prince:
This list is in NO way comprehensive…!