"Princess? That name says entirely the opposite of what they are going for." -October 2016, Facebook
"Why call it princess? My daughter would not wear anything princess. Why not another name? Good concept though." -October 2016, Facebook
"Bad branding. Having "princess" in the name will put off exactly the stereotype-avoiding parents they are targeting." -February 2015, Facebook
This kind of comment from people first meeting Princess Awesome isn’t totally unusual.
I wish we could take every person who feels this way out for coffee and have a long talk. I think we’d have a great discussion.
Because here’s the thing: we understand why this this might be their first reaction. We understand that there’s a lot about “princess culture” that’s problematic. We love Peggy Orenstein’s book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and Rebecca Hains’ The Princess Problem. We totally get it.
And we still think Princess Awesome is the perfect name for our company.
Let me back up for a second and tell a quick story.
When my daughter was 2, she was given a big, fuzzy, neon pink box of generic princess dress-up clothes. She adored it. She (and practically every little friend who came over) wore the dresses constantly. My initial reaction to all this: Dread. Frustration. Fear.
What was my brave, smart little girl going to turn into? Was I a bad feminist for letting her prance around the house in these frilly, sparkly dresses? After all, it wasn’t too long ago that I had promised I’d never buy my daughter anything pink.
Then, one day, while listening to her pretend to drop her kids off at school and then go to work while wearing her pink princess dress and tiara, I had a realization. I harbored beliefs about what my daughter could or could not do while wearing a princess dress - but she did not.
When E was two, I posted this picture to Facebook with the comment: "Sometimes you swear that you won't encourage gender stereotypes in your daughter and then then sometimes you still end up taking pictures like these."
Which made me think: Why do I think wearing a princess dress means she can’t also do science experiments? Or play soccer? Or solve math problems?
Yes, I need to be thoughtful about how much of the Princess Culture I let her consume and how I talk to her about the elements that I find problematic, but one can be interested in princesses and also interested in other things. In fact, not only can that happen, from what I’ve seen, it does happen - more often than not.
This was our frame of mind when Eva and I were thinking of a name for our company. We wanted to create a company that embraces traditionally feminine colors and styles and also embraces subjects that mainstream culture has designated “for boys only” for far too long. A company that believes that there is power in femininity and that the definition of what is considered “feminine” needs to be significantly broadened. A company that believes that dressing up like a princess isn’t the problem - the problem is the idea that princesses can only sit there and look pretty.