I love wearing pink sometimes. I also love rap music and rapping.
I enjoy having long hair, and I enjoy having a pixie cut with a faux hawk.
I love Frozen and The Avengers movies equally.
I delight in glitter; somehow it ends up in my purses and on my sneakers. I also delight in weightlifting.
Just because I am female does not mean that I have to fit into a certain category or only like certain things. And you don’t have to either. Though you haven’t been born just quite yet, I’ve been thinking about something I want to share with you:
I’ve noticed there’s an idea that tries to permeate the culture that you will grow up in- the idea that because you are a girl, you are a princess and deserve to be treated as such. From the princess clothes first marketed to you as an infant to the princess cartoon characters on your future school lunch bag, from the tutus to the oversized sparkly hair bows to the glittery shoes, our culture will tell you that you should be a princess.
Don’t get me wrong, none of these items are inherently bad. (I have already bought you a tutu-onesie combo, and it’s adorable). A few of the princesses you will see in movies and books will fall outside the stereotypes- they will be brave and proactive and smart. But what are typical princesses usually known for? The majority of them are naive, passive, and believe their lives will only truly start when a certain someone rides in on a white horse.
Many times I’ve heard women on shows called The Bachelor and The Bachelorette lament the fact that “all they wanted was their fairytale ending” whenever something goes wrong on the show, when they are disappointed by the man who they think will solve all their problems. They seem genuinely shocked that he would disappoint them, betray them, or fail them. I wonder how much of the princess movies and princess culture they absorbed growing up; I wonder how these things set them up to believe that love (and life) would be perfect and easy once they found a handsome, charming man. These movies display this and other dubious messages that can (as the women of The Bachelor/Bachelorette remind us) stick well into adulthood:
“Snow White was young and helpless. Cinderella allowed herself to be victimized by a cruel stepfamily. Sleeping Beauty was essentially a non-entity in her own movie. All had to be rescued by handsome princes. Ariel, however, is the one I dislike the most. As Peggy Orenstein grumbles so aptly in “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” Ariel “gives up her voice to get a guy.” Not just her voice, I would add. It was her family, her identity, and her entire way of life, too.” — Maryling Yu
She goes on to add:
“On the other hand, Tiana is a hard-working girl saving up toward her dream of opening a restaurant. Rapunzel is resourceful and adventurous. And with Merida, we finally get a princess story that doesn’t revolve around love and marriage.
Thank you, Disney, for giving us princesses who have evolved with the times. But I wish you wouldn’t throw them all in a pot and dish them out as princess-stew. I wish you would market only the ones who are role model-worthy and leave the rest behind.”
If you enjoy sparkles and bows and princess-themed everything, there’s nothing wrong with that- but you are not a princess. You are loved and adored, but the world does not revolve around you and your desires. You aren’t too pretty to do homework, and you won’t need your future brother to do it for you.
There is so much more to you than your looks, though the world will try to convince you otherwise. I’m sorry that you will face so much more pressure to look “perfect” than any future brothers you may have, and that you will be expected to pay more in order to do so. As you grow up, the world will bombard you with its smorgasbord of products that promise to “fix” your hair, skin, and body. It will try to convince you that you continually need all these mascaras, ridiculously high heels, trendy clothes, hair products, diet pills and lotions to make yourself “beautiful.”
It’s a lie. A pink, sparkly, bedazzled lie.
So I hope you enjoy princess-y items and movies if you so choose, but remember to be discerning about what is being presented to you. (Kudos to your father who pointed out the [glorification of] Stockholm Syndrome in Beauty and the Beast after seeing the trailer for the new version). I hope you remember that you don’t have to look a certain way or have a certain life in order to have a “happily ever after” of your own. I hope you remember that you are not a princess, and that is okay: you are so much more.
(Image from pixabay.com)
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