A reader writes:
I’m looking for some perspective regarding my 4 year old”princess.” She has been enamored with Cinderella (the only Disneyprincess movie she has actually seen) and recently Sleeping Beauty(from books and mom’s old Disney records). I’m a bit taken aback bycomparing the old Disney princesses who were sweet and kind, eventhough they were treated badly (much like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s”The Little Princess”) to the new Disney princesses who arestrong-willed, independent, and think they deserve more. I was never agirlie-girl myself, and it seems to me that much of the fashion, media,and toys for young girls do not encourage modesty and virtue. I realizeI have control about what stays in the house but I want to setappropriate boundaries without “sheltering” her from many of the thingsthat come into the house from friends and relatives.
What a confusing world this can be for little girls to grow up in!Thanks to modern day commercialism and our culture’s sexualization ofeven very young girls, something that should be sweetly innocent—likeimaginary princess play—all too easily becomes an exercise inmaterialism and immodesty.
I can certainly relate to your reservations about many of theDisney princesses and I think your inclination toward “sheltering” yourdaughter from their influence is a good one. I haven’t seen many of thenewer movies so I don’t know much about the storylines. We do not,however, allow our own wannabe princesses to admire, collect, orimitate the “cleavage” Disney princesses (and pretty much all of thenew ones qualify) and we avoid Barbie dolls for the same reasons.
When it comes to the princess phenomenon, in our house we try toemphasize the old fashioned notion that a princess is known by herbehavior. She is beautiful, yes. She wears lovely clothes, of course.But most importantly, she possesses the feminine qualities of modesty,gentleness, kindness, and generosity. Above all else, I want my girlsto grow up knowing that their inner virtues are infinitely moreimportant than their bodies or their clothing. I try to indulge theirinclinations toward girliness with healthy activities such as teaparties, dressing up, and playing dolls. You don’t need Disney for anyof that!
How do you handle princesses in your house?