I have, on occasion, heard some parents of daughters rail against the phenomenon that is the Disney and/or Barbie princess craze. I’ve heard some parents wonder if we are setting unrealistic expectations of “happily ever after” for our daughters, or if we’re teaching them to define success by someday nabbing a handsome prince.
If that’s the case, then I am hosed. Because I have a three-year-old daughter who has bought in to the entire thing, lock, stock, and barrel. She is a walking billboard for the Disney princesses. She dances all over the place in her Jasmine slippers, carrying a glittery Cinderella purse, and she makes up songs as she goes along. The tune always changes, but the words go something like this:
“Belie-e-e-e-e-e-eve in your dreams...when you wish…in your heart…and the magic happens…of the whole world…and you can shine…and don’t give u-u-u-u-u-u-u-up…and your dreams come tru-u-u-u-u-ue…”
You get the idea. It’s like a cloud of Disney princess pop psychology follows her through our house. I’m not concerned about this. It’s not like she’s choosing a husband next year – she’s three, for Pete’s sake. I have plenty of time to teach her, by my words and actions, that happily-ever-afters actually require a lot of work, and that the best handsome princes aren’t the ones with the best ballroom dancing steps – they’re the ones who unload the dishwasher.
Anyway, I don’t believe it’s a bad thing for a little girl to revel in her femininity, should she be so inclined. There are plenty of years ahead for learning a healthy personal balance between a love for pretty dresses and the more cerebral things in life. I want to teach my daughter to embrace every part of who she is, including the delightful girly-girl part. My daughter would tell you that her favorite princess is Belle. Why? Because, she would say, “of the pwetty yellow dwess, and she likes BOOKS!”
And there you go.
So we’re diving headlong into the whole princess thing, though I’m keeping my radar up for little chances to reminder her gently of what real happy endings look like. The other day I sat with her as she watched an episode of Princess Stories. At the end of it, Cinderella shared her story. “I found my handsome prince,” she sighed, “and then we lived happily ever after.”
I nudged Corrie. “I found my prince, too, you know. You know who it is?"
“Daddy!” she giggled.
“Yes!” I said. “And you know why I picked him for my prince?”
“Because he’s smart, and he works hard, and he makes me laugh, and he’s kind.” I thought about explaining how he encourages me to develop my own potential, and how (talk about princely!) he does the taxes every year, too. But I could tell I was starting to lose her – she was wondering when I would get to the part about the pretty dresses.
So instead I just sang along with her as she started her song: “Be-lieeeeeeeve in your dreams….”
We’ve got years for the good stuff.