December 03, 2014
I have to come clean about something. In the midst of working on that previous princess post, I decided to ask my daughter about princesses. I was hoping to get a 4-year-old’s version of our argument so we could say, “Look! See! We’re right!”
But I didn’t get that. In fact, she gave me literally the opposite of our argument. See for yourselves.
You can hear me trying SO HARD to get her to say what I want to hear, but nope. Nope. She’s made her decision and sticking to it.
I walked around for a few days thinking about why E’s literal description of princesses is so different from the princess games I see her play.
And then I went into a toy store.
I was immediately drawn to all the pink, sparkly Princess Stuff - coloring books, puzzles, chapstick, nailpolish, stickers, etc. I hadn’t really looked closely at all this Princess Stuff in a while, and do you know what I was reminded of when paying attention to that Stuff? Most of it is terrible!
Unlike the little princesses tromping around upstairs going to school or dropping each other off at school before going to work (some of my daughter’s favorite games to play while donning princess apparel), the princesses in all the Princess Stuff don’t DO anything. Well, technically they are “doing things”; the coloring books are full of princesses talking to princes or trying on shoes or brushing their hair or choosing from any number of gorgeous gowns. And that’s all fine as long as they do something else while talking to the prince or after they’ve put on their beautiful gown, but they DON’T! The Princess Stuff communicates pretty clearly that all princesses do is sit around the castle trying to look beautiful and talk to boys. They're not even ruling their kingdoms! These princesses are not Princess Awesomes. These princesses are Princess Do-Nothings.
I think when I ask my daughter the kinds of questions from that little video above, what she’s thinking of are the “real” Princess Do-Nothings from all the Princess Stuff.* And, in that case, she’s right. THOSE princesses don’t do anything besides be in their rooms and marry the king. The princesses that she plays do a lot more. And they are powerful. She just doesn’t connect how she plays princess to what she sees in all the Princess Stuff all over the place.
After I’d turned the camera off, I asked my daughter how she would feel about a superhero princess. A princess who saved the day. Her eyes got wide, and she nodded her head while a big grin spread across her face.
So if you’re wondering what the Princess Awesome response will be to Princess Do-Nothing, besides, well, the very existence of our company, when we get our costume line up and running in a few years, here’s what we hope to bring you:
Super Dinosaur Princess! Intergalactic Alien Princess! Ninja Ballerina Princess! And many more…
Addendum: On a reliable recommendation, as I wrote this post, I showed my daughter the Tinker Bell movie from the Disney Fairies franchise (http://fairies.disney.com/tinker-bell). This line is great! It does a lot of what I wish the princess line could do: it’s a diverse group of adorable girls wearing cute dresses and shimmery wings who solve problems, build machines, run the fairy society, and, of course, save the day. I think a Tink costume might be in my daughter’s future…
*My daughter knows that Elsa is a queen, so she doesn’t count in my daughter’s mind as a princess.