Sarah and I were just at a 3-year-old girl’s birthday party. To say that it was “princess themed” would be an understatement. It was more an indoctrination that every girl should aspire to be a princess, to swath herself in pink and to wear a tiara.
This is the part of being a daughter’s dad that I dread. More than a few people are out there waiting for my tears to flow when Anneka gets obsessed with princesses. Or rather, the pop-culture vision of a princess as promoted by the Mouse and all his stooges.
Every time the mass media force-feeds this message to a little girl, it’s really saying “Be born into privilege. Ability doesn’t matter. Conform.”
These are not messages I want Anneka to accept. And sometimes, I feel like Sarah and I are all alone in this.
Then I see Facebook communities like Tres Geek, where little girls dress as Dr. Who characters and play Donkey Kong. It’s really a heartening, morale-boosting connection with other like-minded people, and it’s all too rare. That makes me appreciate it a bit more.
Anyway, back to the whole princess thing – the party organizers had all the little girls sit in a circle; one by one, they went through and named their favorite princess.
“Someone please say Xena, someone please say Xena,” I chanted in my mind.
Nobody said Xena.
I would accept Princess Leia as a good answer, too – privileged birth, but used her position as an agent of change. She had a big stake in the game; Darth Vader doesn’t chase anyone down to deliver a stern lecture.
I also resent the message inherent in nearly every princess: If you get in trouble, someone (usually someone with a Y chromosome) has to rescue you. That’s an outdated message that does nothing to empower girls.
I wonder how to handle the whole princess thing when that time comes … let it go (oh, god – did I just say that?) and run it’s course, or use it as a learning moment?
I don’t want to be an excessively preachy dad. Honestly. But I want to provide chances for Anneka to think and reflect, to find her own path based on her thoughts rather than the bubblegum-pink faux-reality that the entertainment-industrial complex firehoses at girls. I guess I’ll be happy enough if she asks “so what’s the big deal with princesses, anyway?”