Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Princess Thing

Like a lot of three year olds, Big A plays at being a princess. This usually involved putting on every necklace she owns, pairing a frilly skirt with jeans and rain boots, and topping it all off with a beat-up plastic crown. Then she would march around the house proclaiming "I am so fancy!" Sometimes we'd go to the park and I'd share a wink with another mom accompanied by a similarly festooned little girl. "Did you pick out your clothes all by yourself today?" one of us would ask the other's child while they nodded vigorously and we tried not to laugh.

Even for a non-frilly woman like me, it was silly and sweet. Cute enough that I even bought Big A a fairy costume when I saw it on sale, because I knew she'd probably like to wear it while riding her tricycle.

However, I'm currently suffering from a bad case of the princess heebies. It all started when a friend of mine had Big A over to her house for a play date. In addition to her preschooler boy, my friend has a teenage daughter. Big A stumbled upon some old toys that belonged to the teenager. One of them was a copy of the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty. My friend said "Oh, my daughter never looks at that anymore. Take it home with you ." And I thought, "Sure, why not?"

But after reading it from the parent-of-a-female child perspective, I'm suffering from a real case of the heebie jeebies. Because in Sleeping Beauty, the princess:

  • Dances around the forest with a strange dude who snuck up from behind and put his hands on her without asking permission
  • Falls instantly in love with the stranger, despite his use of the pickup line: "Don't worry, we've already met -- I'm the man in your dreams!"
  • Does whatever dumb ass thing anyone tells her (like marry a guy she doesn't know, or touch the spinning wheel spindle when an evil-looking fairy beckons her to do so)
  • Gets married ... at age sixteen!

I know, I know, these complaints are very lame and gosh-shucks of me. Very unsophisticated, that I am so lathered up about this. But three year olds are such earnest little sponges. Mine has been wandering around the house saying, "Mommy, when can I get married? I need to get married!" And "Where is my prince? I need him to take care of me!" Gah. I ask, would you not also turn into Tipper Gore circa 1985 for at least a few minutes if you heard your little girl say she needed a man to take care of her?

I was going to remove Sleeping Beauty from the house. But like a virus, it's already done its damage, so taking away the source of the infection now is kind of pointless. I figured it might make her even more obsessed if the book suddenly disappeared. So instead I brought home some modern princess-related stories into the mix, to broaden Big A's perceptions of how crown-wearing folks can act. We'll see if she switches her preference to the books I like. God, I hope so.

1 comment:

Marie-Baguette said...

I was terrified of expecting a girl because of this whole princessy focused US culture. I am so glad I am expecting a boy :-)
I believe Salon (and maybe Slate as well) published articles about all this. I remember one of the articles complaining that even Dora the Explorer got the Princess make-over. Hugh. Hopefully it will be just a phase!