Girly-ness and Princesses

You have to check out this excerpt from the book Bittersweet, written by Shauna Niequist.

She brings up her friends who have a baby girl and have declared their house a "princess free zone." This made me laugh a little--because I hate princesses so much.

I think the thing that I don't like about princesses is the same thing that Shauna doesn't like about princesses--just the image of a girl sitting around being beautiful waiting for a brave knight in shining armor to slay the dragon and rescue the girl and live happily ever after just really makes me want to barf. I am not a girly girl (that's obvious, probably.) I feel like it is important for me to encourage the girls to slay their own dragons. To rely on God and the abilities that He has given them, and not wait around for prince charming to overcome the obstacles for them.

Now, I realize that this is just my own personality & my own preference. I have gone through a phase of relying on Shawn too much and expecting him to rescue me from my trials and it really made us both miserable. Now I have come out of that, and I can see that my relying on Shawn was getting in the way of relying on God. And waiting around for someone else to overcome my obstacles for me takes a lot of the joy out of life.

I also realize that it is totally okay for others to like princesses. And that not all princesses are vain helpless dopes. Ruby, for example, wants to be a princess when she grows up. Okay, okay--that may not be a realistic goal, but if she did somehow end up being a princess--I think she would be a loving, thoughtful one who always defends the fatherless and the widow. And I guarantee that Lucy would be out there slaying the dragons...or at least taming them & making them her pets. =) So--I am okay with them playing princesses, because their character is what is important. That they grow up to be loving, courageous, joyful girls who love God and take care of others.

so--what are your thoughts on princesses? Or, what does being a princess mean to you? Does it have positive or negative connotations?

love ya,
val

7 Response to "Girly-ness and Princesses"

  1. Deaver Says:

    i agree val. i think i also don't like the idea of princesses so much because it seems like they could end up really spoiled. or selfish. but i guess anybody can end up that way no matter what they want to be when they grow up!

  2. Emily Says:

    Cool post, Val. I agree with your sentiments, especially the part about robbing them of unique, character-building experiences. I would add that the thing I hate most about the "princess culture" we as a society have created is that it is teaching girls to be consumers at such a young age. How many mall stores are dedicated to pink and purple, frilly, tu-tu-clad tiara-wearing 5 year olds? It's teaching materialism. Not to mention setting a standard of "princess-like" beauty - as if girls don't have enough difficulty with self-esteem in the middle and high school years, let's find a way to make grade schoolers feel bad about their bodies and their looks? I could go on, but I think you brought up a great topic of discussion!

  3. milligans Says:

    our daughter Leannora will be turning 6 in just 2 short weeks. she has 2 older brothers, 2 younger brothers, 1 little sister, and a baby ? on the way. she can hold her own with her brothers and has always enjoyed playing with them in their adventures. yet she has a strong feminine touch to everything she does. in the past year she has had her first little girl friend relationships blossom. these girls have introduced her to the world of princesses. we have always tried to downplay the disney princess characters, but have allowed her to enjoy them a bit with her friends. and she now LOVES princesses. so i asked her what she likes about princesses...
    "i like princesses because they are pretty, they dance, i like pretending about them, they have pretty dresses, they have really fancy ballrooms, i like the castles that they have, i like the tap shoes that they have ..."

    while i was listening to Leannora's thoughts, nikao, our 4 year old, said he would like to be a prince. and then changed his mind. "well, actually i would like to be a king so i could have a real sword. pretend swords get not being fun when you are playing with them."

    i'm not quite sure what i think about princesses. i love letting my children dream and use their imaginations. but i don't like it when dreaming makes us discontent with what God has given us - materially, in personality, position, ability, etc.

    when i was growing up, my little sister loved pretending to be a princess. i found a way to let her be the princess, yet still get my way in the choice of play. so i created my own position of being her servant. somehow i had learned that princesses don't really get to decide anything for themselves, they just look and practice being pretty. we would play dress up with our rummage sale collection of adult clothes, mom's jewelry and hats, shawls, gloves, and anything else we could find. our girl friends would often join us all the was up to high school in this fun.

    this is such a great question val!!! you've really got me thinking about some things here. thanks for the challenge and invitation to share our thoughts. i think i'd like to think through this a bit more, so look for more on our blog someday if you're interested. :)

  4. valandshawn Says:

    becky--you are totally right about anybody ending up that way.

    emily--that is a good point. i have been thinking about materialism a lot lately, too. that might be my next blog. =)

    kim--i AM interested! i will be eagerly awaiting your blog. =)

    love ya,
    val

  5. Mommykendra Says:

    Grace has been on a huge dress-up kick. For awhile, she was the princess and nobody was "allowed" to tell her what to do and she was never "allowed" to be sad or mad, because she was the princess. Oddly enough, you blogged about princess the next day. I struggled with sitting down and talking with her or just letting her be and for now I just let her be. I know she doesn't really think that, but she's been really struggling with control and self-identy and I think she just needed to pretend that she lived in a world where there was no rules and sadness.
    I LOVE the Disney Princesses. I secretly (well not so secretly now) hope that Kate loves the Princesses. I just think their stories show that women can be independent (Mulan), that despite our circumstances we can be happy (Cinderella), that different people can really influence us who we are (Snow White), etc...and that even sometimes the people in power are mean and need fought.
    I call Grace, princess all the time as a term of endearment.
    I don't know. Maybe I underthink it, or perhaps I'm just so caught up in the Disney magic that I miss the problems with it or I just missed the whole point of the blog--LOL.

  6. valandshawn Says:

    Kendra--I'm really glad that you commented! I really value your opinion. I like that you let Grace keep pretending even though you kinda felt like giving her a lesson. Pretending is so important. I think it is important for kids to have a safe place to act out and explore different feelings that they are having, etc. and pretending is perfect for that! not to mention how much it encourages creativity.

    I think the point of my blog is that I sometimes stress out about how much Ruby likes princesses, but I really need to not worry about it, I think. because--it's not like I can tell her what to like and what not to like, and I am not going to ban her from them or anything--so I just need to let her explore and have fun with princessy playing if she wants to. In the mean time, I can keep showing the girls how to be loving, and how great it is to take care of people, and that we need to face our own battles, etc.

    love ya,
    val

  7. Mommykendra Says:

    Val--I really don't think you have anything to worry about with your girls growing up and thinking that they need pampered. They are very independent, adventureous, and know that beauty comes from the inside and from being unique individuals who love God and those around them.
    I've actually always wondered what people saw as the negativity of princess and really thought it was some hype that some Christians and "hippies" just jumped on without really understanding why(I also think that about Harry Potter, though...so my viewpoint is really skewed--LOL). It's a viewpoint that is seen quite a bit on mothering and I think for a bit it was very widespread that princesses were no-nos on above rubies (and may still be).
    I just went on a tangent again. I really think sometimes I just think so differently than everyone else, that I miss the real point of some things.