This is not a Princess
Princesses have been given a bad rap.
Little girls who are spoilt, precious, precocious, you know the ones, they’re labelled ‘princesses’. ‘Daddy’s little princess’, ‘She’s such a princess’. It’s not a compliment.
I don’t want to blame everything on Disney Princesses, not when there’s so much other marketing, merchandising and media that has gone into creating the myth of the Princess, but for many little girls that’s where it starts. And it’s very hard to find products for little girls that don’t buy into the myth.
So in the spirit of gays reclaiming ‘queer’ and Afro-Americans reclaiming ‘nigger’, I’m reclaiming ‘princess’.
Here’s what I’ve discovered since I began this project.* Princesses are usually very well-educated and have often been high achievers, professionally, in their own right. Their official duties as a Princess are really quite extraordinary. Princess Anne, for example, had over 500 official engagements last year. They support charities and foundations across a very broad range of fields, but many are actively supporting furthering education for girls and young women. They support the arts, disadvantaged children, health programmes and micro-finance. Many officially represent the United Nations.
They juggle their official duties with raising children of their own and do so under the burden of public expectation about their looks, wardrobe, personal life and public demeanour. Their lives are the property of the state they represent. And they get letters with glittery stickers and lots of questions from a 4yo who lives in Australia.
Sure they have advantages that your normal working mother can only dream of. Staff, live-in childcare, comfortable, affluent lifestyles, no worries about rising interest rates because the palace was paid for a few hundred years ago. But at the end of the day, they are working mothers, working women.
I’ve learnt a lot about the individual Princesses and have certainly developed a healthy respect for them (even if they don’t all answer the questions of a 4yo). This project has created a picture of women who are individuals beyond the title ‘Princess’. And whilst I admit that most of that has gone over Miss E’s head, it has helped her form a picture of a Princess that is more than just Cinderella, Belle and Sleeping Beauty.
So, if your daughter is Princess besotted, let her enjoy the glitter and the frou-frou, it’s part of the magic of childhood. But perhaps you could buy a $10 chicken from Oxfam or sponsor a child through World Vision and explain that Princesses help those less fortunate than themselves. And of course, introduce her to the Princesses on this blog!
*Things I know Friday – it’s harder than it looks being a Princess.