My daughter is 11-years-old. She’s obsessed with all things Harry Potter, loves to rock climb, ski, and ride her bike. She plays the piano and writes stories in her room. She creates elaborate games for her little brothers where they play for hours at her direction. She draws pictures, and loves her friends fiercely.
She doesn’t care too much about boys. Yet (thank goodness).
She loves science and math, and advanced far in her science fair last year. She likes gymnastics and soccer, and loves reading. OK, she’s obsessed with reading.
Sometimes I marvel at the cool person she is becoming. Last year, she told me that in her fifth grade class, they were asked what they would change about the world, and she said she wishes that men and women had equal rights. She’s a budding little feminist, and that makes me happy. I tell her often that she can do and be whatever she wants to be. I know she believes that, too.
When she was 2-years-old though, her biggest aspiration was to become a princess. It’s weird how this obsession seemed to come out of nowhere. I showed her the Little Mermaid and Aladdin, some of the old classic movies I loved, and it was like there was no looking back. Before I knew it, her entire universe became all about the best princess dress that would twirl the most.
When she would pose for pictures her head was always tilted and rested on her shoulder (like a princess, she would remind me). She wanted the shoes and the crowns, and the poof sleeves. Every book was a princess story, and her room was full of pink. She had turned into a little princess-obsessed creature right before my eyes, and I’m not even sure how we got there in the first place.
It carried over into 3 and 4 and even 5 years old. I remember that one of the ONLY things she wanted that year for Christmas was a Cinderella dress. A real one. With the gloves and everything. I thought to myself, “What have I done? This is never going to end!”
But, I will report now that although we still have all those princess dresses in her closet, she’d rather read mysteries and adventure books than princess stories. The three- or four-year phase did indeed pass and now I kind of wish she’d put a princess dress back on just once, and tilt her head like she did as a toddler.
But, here’s the funny thing. I think she was as princess-obsessed as any kid could possibly be, yet when I look at her now, I think it was more about twirly dresses than it ever was about waiting for her prince, or aspiring for nothing more than to fall in love.
I know many friends who wanted to steer their daughters (sometimes unsuccessfully no matter how hard they tried) clear from the princesses that seemed to represent something they didn’t align their own ideals with — waiting for a prince, meekness, letting the man be the hero in everything, needing a man, and so on.
We went into full on princess extravaganza mode for a few years, and I think my daughter is one of the coolest, smartest, girls I know. Who also happens to care a lot more about her own dreams than sitting around waiting for her prince to come.
I don’t think it ruined her forever to enjoy a little pink taffeta and poof sleeves for a few years, and watch The Little Mermaid on repeat all day long.
I love where Disney has gone in recent years empowering the princesses to be the stars of the show and strong and powerful in their own rite (prince aside). That’s definitely sending a good message to our girls.
But, don’t be afraid to put on the old classics like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, too. I promise your little girls won’t be ruined forever or brainwashed into thinking they need a man to survive if they walk around the house in oversized princess shoes, and refuse to take off a crown, even to sleep, when they are 3-years-old.
Like most things, one day, they’ll grow up and be amazing girls that are strong, smart, and powerful despite watching a princess movie 365 days in a row that one year when they were 2. It really will be OK.