October 20, 2010

"Prince Charming will be here in 3 minutes!"

SCENE: Gigi, Lula and a friend are playing on the back patio. They are in Princess dresses *cringe* and playing in the girls' "sweetheart cottage" . The three of them are stitting in the cottage - Just sitting. I'm cleaning up the unending disaster that is the backyard when I notice the three of them just sitting there.

ME: Hey girls..... Whatca doing?

GIGI: {excitedly} "Prince Charming will be here in 3 minutes!!!" 

I am having a stroke! Color me disappointed and perplexed.  Prince Charming is not coming.... Prince Charming does not exist. If Prince Charming does in fact exist, he's probably searching for Prince Charming too! 

Herein lies my problem. I don't want to be Nazi-mom who refuses to allow Disney Princesses to infiltrate my home. I do make a concerted effort to minimize the Princess exposure and paraphernalia. But some Princess Play is... well I bear it. I know that the dress up and pretend play is important for creativity and imagination. Truth is I don't seem to be as repulsed by generic princesses as I am by Disney Princesses.  But the whole, Ivory Tower, life doesn't begin until Prince Charming rescues me and takes me away and blah...blah...blah... Happily Ever After.... It's so dark-ages. 

Show me a princess that rescues the prince and I will stand firmly behind her. And Don't tell me Tiana rescues Navine in Princess and The Frog, because.... Well there are still undertones of her not being able to make herself happy with hard work, determination and a dream.  Her Happily Ever After isn't complete without her "Prince". 

I want strong daughters who grow up into strong women. I want my girls to want a man, not need a man.  And if they don't want a man.... If they are happy all on their own, that's fine too. 

Oh I am aware that for each of the studies out there that say "Princess Play is bad for our young girls self-esteem and self image" there is one that says "Moderation is the key and the parents are expected to set the standard and ground their children in reality... blah...blah...blah..." And I believe both are true - to a point.  My girls are far from obsessed with Princesses and there are clear limits in my home. We own one Disney Princess dress, 2 Tinkerbelle Fairy dresses and 1 Barbie dress. {all gifts} There are 4 pair of Disney princess dress up shoes {another gift}  and NO Disney Brand clothing in our closets. I have bent my "No Character Clothes" rule by allowing 3 Disney nightgowns into our house and that's it.  Dress-up-clothes are for the playroom or back yard only. The rule is you may PLAY dress up but you may not leave the house in princess shoes or other regalia.

Oh I think dress up is fun. I think pretend is awesome. I have a basket full of hats and scarves and purses and gloves and tutus and encourage fashion shows. But I would prefer the roll play be "I'm a doctor." - "I'm a firefighter." - "I'm an astronaut/ cowgirl / teacher." Something about "Prince Charming will be here in 3 Minutes." shook me to my core.

Maybe I'm alone... Maybe I'm overreacting.... But I just don't think the Prince Charming that Gigi was talking about is coming. That's not to say that some of us don't ever find princes....


Mel said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this. It goes down as my favorite post so far. I thought I was alone in these thoughts honestly. Someone called Zoers a cute little princess in a store one time and I know I didn't hold back my dirty look. Again, all for dress up and fine with a few things but UGH don't want her to fall into the hype. I never owned a Barbie - not one. I made mud pies, played with dolls, stuffies and loved playing "school". I so hope to instill the same principles you mentioned of wanting a wonderful man, not needing one. You mentioned it being dark ages yet sadly it does seem to be everywhere still!

Shelbi said...

I can honestly say with great joy in my heart that my both of my girls have my love for mud-pie making, backyard playing, tree-climbing, rocks, sticks, trucks, paratroopers, swimming, sandcastles and all other manner of "tom-boyish" fun. Oh we have tea parties and I attempt to play dolls with them, as dolls were never my thing. But when building blocks come out the whole family comes together!!

I do not want to deny my girls a feminine side. Heck in part I want them to embrace their femininity as long as they know that’s only part of their selves. Strong, independent, feminine, intelligent... I want multifaceted girls to grow into multifaceted women. I know that sometimes you need to feel like a princess… But waiting around for prince charming…. That won’t fly with me!

I suppose in the spirit of full disclosure I should have shared my “stroller story” at the end of this post – While it was true that I didn’t ‘need’ a man to put the stroller together for me – and while it is completely true that I batted my eyelashes at a park ranger so he would fix a flat stroller tire for me a mere days later…. I didn’t ‘need’ him to fix it. I am fully capable of fixing a flat myself, but I ‘wanted’ him to fix it…. In the end it’s always about ‘wanting’ a man and not ‘needing’ him.

I have no fears that Zoers will fall prey to the marketing blitz that is dragging our girls by their hair back to the Stone Age. Maybe if more mothers simply said ENOUGH; and did what they felt in their heart instead of giving in to the societal peer pressure…. maybe we would see fewer girls being bullied to death in schools- fewer teenage pregnancies - and fewer eating disorders and suicides. Being a teenager, Hell being a woman is hard enough without having to worry about finding Prince Charming.

Andrea said...

There are these GREAT feminist fairy tales that are the princess stories; ie Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel (not the Disney versions) that are written so that it is the princess that is the heroine and the "prince" is the one who needs saving. They are fantastic and not preachy or pushy; I read them in college. As soon as I can remember what they are called, I will be back!

I loved the Disney princesses as a kid (still do) but, as an oldest daughter of broken home, I knew the concept of prince charming was a joke and that all I really needed in life was my brain. My mom taught me that. So even if your daughters fall prey to the Disney hype, you can still instill in them to value themselves, think for themselves and do for themselves and if the want a man, they can have one.

monica said...

Well, Rylan loves the Disney Princesses!!! But she truly loves anything she can dress up in-last years X-Mas dress, her old flower girl dress, old Easter dresses, her tutu, tap shoes, etc. She loves to be girly and dress up so I love it for her. If she enjoyed dressing up in cowboy boots I would love it too. She's 3 and is constantly trying on new outfits and using her imagination-good for her!

Rylan's daddy is her prince charming-as he should be. He will always be the Hero in her life. She may love the idea of a fairy tale but, I am hopeful that Robbie and I give her the confidence and love in life that she won't ever "need" a prince charming. She's having fun dressing up on a daily basis and believe it or not at some point (in the future) I'll miss my baby dressing up like the beautiful princess she is.

She's a happy little princess in our eyes.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any problem with "needing" a man.

I love my husband beyond imagination. He is my Prince Charming. My live would not be complete without him. I do need him, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I'm educated. I've marched for things I believe in. I've changed a flat tire. I've pulled myself out of more than one situation using my own good wits.

Showing my daughter that marriage involves putting someone ELSE'S needs above your own...teaching my son that he will have the responsibility to meet the needs of his wife one day...

These are life skills that many adults lack.

I agree with Monica. A father's role in his daughter's life is to help build her confidence...daughters NEED fathers. So, I guess this means that daughters do, indeed, NEED a man.

Stop being so bitter and start enjoying life. So what if your girls want to play princesses and happily every after.

You only get the chance to live with such carefree happiness once....real life will be here soon enough.

I've been to your blog a few times...mainly just lurking around the web, but his is the first I've felt compelled to leave a comment. I don't have a blog, but I do enjoy reading blogs about mothering.

Not sure I'll be back.


Shelbi said...


Sorry you felt offended, but it seems that the way you "need" your husband is not the way I was expressing "needing" a man. You said you're educated and strong and capable, so you know your worth without neeing a man to give you worth. I couldn't be a stay-at-home-mom without a husband who works as tirelessly as mine does. I am madly in love with my husband. My heart is full of love for him and my days are brighter and better and my life ceratinly happy beacuse of him. But if he were to walk out tomorrow- I would not die. It feels good to have a man in my life. Love is important, but the world and I would go on without a man in my life. My girls need to know that. And if their "Prince Charming" is going to keep them waiting.... They don't need him!

For mu daughters, I wish a lifetime of happly-ever-after - a partner in life who loves and values them as much as they love and value themselves -But I will not let them wait to be rescued until they know that they are capable of rescuing themselves if they so choose. Then and only then- when they know that they don't "need" a man to rescuse them will I be okay with "Prince Charming will be here in 3 minutes"

"A Mother's Musings, Mishaps and Milestones"

Anonymous said...

I am floored that this conversation is happening. First and foremost-it starts and ends with parenting skills, with two strong parents with strong values that take the time to help their children grow and learn every single day. It's these skills that so many parents these days truly lack. They rely on other people to enstill values and morals when they, themselves, should be solely responsible for raising their children. So what? A group of 3-5 yrs olds are playing in princess dresses, and waiting for prince charming. We should all hope that our children's dreams remain hopeful and positive. I don't need my husband.. I met him in my 30's when I had a career and owned my own home. I CHOSE him. We, as parents, need to teach our girls to be strong, stand up for themselves, and make their own choices. Finding a "prince charming" would be great... for everyone. What's wrong with being hopeful? You are definitely making a mountain out of a molehill... why don't you spend your time interacting with those princesses in the playhouse and asking probing questions like "why do you need a prince charming?" or "are you two going to go on an adventure when you find him?" or even "I thought he's waiting for you to find him?" Kids are kids and will you PLEASE let them be kids. There is a lifetime of lessons they will learn to help them be strong, independent women. We should start by being their strong, independent female role models.

Shelbi said...

Isn't it funny how in the above comment you completely agree with my point? So what were you so offended by to begin with? Or did you simply want to stir the pot – pick a fight? In my last comment I pointed out the fact that based upon your description of yourself, you don't "need" your husband. Which you seem to ultimately agree with and it’s clear that your and my use of the word "need" might have been confused initially. I never accused you of anything, questioned your parenting skills or choices and value your right to your opinion – but again, I think we are of similar mind here.

If you read my blog from time to time, like you say you have; you know the kind of mother I am. The time I spend the activities I plan, the lessons I try to teach. I am dedicated, involved, sacrificing…. but I have nothing to prove to you, or anyone else. I know the kind of mother I am, I know the kind of values I want to instill.

My blog is clearly titled, it’s "A Mother’s Musings, Mishaps and Milestones." Not “Placating Bull-Sh*t That Will Never Express Any of My Opinions or True Emotions.” My panic, over realizing that I have daughters old enough to have Prince Charming and what role he might play cross their mind was where this post was born. That moment for me was, Terrifying! So forgive me for having an opinion about anything in my life.... I certainly respect yours and if you don’t read this blog anymore, you don’t. It’s not like your readership helps or your boycott hurts. But I truly do not set out to offend and hope that anyone who reads this blog has enough self confidence to know that my opinion differing from theirs is simply nothing more than a difference of opinion. I suppose if you can’t handle my ramblings about my life it was nice, knowing you…. But then again, I never even knew you existed…

If you would like to stay and debate posts in the future, I am happy to thoughtfully listen to your side and maybe you will have an argument that I had not thought of before. Maybe I’ll make a point that you’d never considered. Maybe we could learn from each other. That is what educated adults do, isn’t it? I welcome feedback and new information. I have never claimed to be an expert on anything… Even if I am right on this whole princess debate, I am sure to be screwing my kids up some other way, I won’t deny that fact. If we speak {type} again that’s great; However, if I am just simply to feminist, liberal or too much of a Yankee-bitch for you to handle… well then I get it and “Good-bye.”

A Mother’s Musings, Mishaps and Milestones

Anonymous said...

Ummmm...Shelbi......I *didn't* post that other anon comment.

I was coming back to see if you had replied - and I see that you have.

I WAS going to say that, yes, I agree with the point that a woman should be self sufficient. She should be able to provide for herself.


I see a new side to you. Pretty hostile.


I told you I don't have a blog, so there's my e-mail. In the future if you'd like to rip into your readers, you might want to make sure you're talking to the right PRINCESS.

Anonymous said...


Great post!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this - I often felt that I was the only one. My husband hates the princess thing also - it isn't just a woman's thing! Neither of us judge any parents who support it and if our daughter is at a house with princess stuff we certainly let her jump right in.

I also totally agree with no logo on anything in the closet! I don't beleive my child should be a billboard for any company or product! The one exception I have is buying her Dora underpants to help the potty training along! (and local political campaigns of course!)

The other issues is how Disney dresses these princesses - some of the costumes should not be worn by little girls! Kids should remain kids as is stated in a previous post. Have you noticed that none of the "gals" are even slightly overweight and it was not until this year until they had an africian american princess?

I am suddenly thinking of all sorts of children's books! The new Babysitter's club series will be the anti-princess campaign! :)

Keep the great posts coming - I am sure many mothers have never thought about many of these great points!

Off to read the Paper Bag princess!

flipflopmama a.k.a. The SassMaster said...

Woah! Hot topic!!
I don't have any insight about the care and feeding of a "princess." I do, however, have a hearty mistrust of Disney anything. (I do love Winnie the Pooh and Phineas and Ferb, though)
Disney is HUGE influence on American culture. Whatever Disney thinks is sure to sink into our children's conciousnese and you're not wrong to want to counter those ideas with what you believe to be important to growing strong, smart girls.
The messages the media sends are POWERFUL and a princess is not necessarily just a princess. Take a long hard look at Beauty and the Beast. It's being re-released right now and hype will be big again. Belle is captured and made to remain with the Beast ("she won't eat with me, then she won't eat at all!") and is mistreated by an angry, scary male. But Disney would like your daughters to know that under the Beast is a handsome, hurting prince whom she can bring out with her patience and kindness. Does this NOT feel just a bit scary to anyone else? Just be patient, girls and he'll try to stop hitting you. Just be a bit kinder and he won't embarass you in front of your friends or make you stop talking to your mom. So what if he pushed you? He's tortured and in pain. After all, he's your prince charming when he's not "the Beast," right??
I think what struck me about the play you described was the inaction of the pretenders as they were "waiting." The passivity. Geez, ladies, at least keep busy in the kitchen while you're waiting and prepare a meal for the man. He's going to be hungry before he sweeps you off your feet.
Shelbi, your shock and confoundment (is this a word???) is real for you. You have clearly expressed your confidence in your parenting and I agree, that's evident. You can offer alternatives and help your girls question the bullshit that is marketed to them. IT'S YOUR JOB. And you doing it, babe. Follow your instincts and continue to model your strength AND feminity. But seriously?? "Kids are kids and will you PLEASE let them be kids."?? Letting them be kids doesn't mean nodding and smiling while they eat up everything the media wants them to see and believe. Kids should be taught how to question and think for themselves.

stevo said...

Ugh "let them be kids" I have been told that exact thing so many times by my brother while trying to redirect my boys while they are playing with his son who thinks all play must involve shooting and killing each other.
I have only been the mommy of a baby girl for about 11 weeks now and I am already terrified of the whole princess, barbie or god forbid bratz thing. I am already trying to compromise with her...maybe we can do the fairy things instead of the princess?????
We had a neighbor who's little girl would come outside to play wearing those plastic high heeled princess shoes and i would cringe every time...this is where i say let them be kids..how the hell do you navigate a playstructure in plastic high heeled shoes?
Anyhow I am sure that some of this stuff will make it into my house eventually but I certainly won't be running out to toys r us to stock up on it myself! She already received a glass tea set when she was 2 weeks old.

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