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It May Be Time to Replace the Princess with the Woman

It May Be Time to Replace the Princess with the Woman

*Find my original Facebook post here.
**Illustration by Sara El-Yafi. Little girl’s photos by photographer Jaime Moore. 

I have always cringed at the commercialization of our princess culture. How at our youngest age we are tossed and bred in the realms of the magical worlds of princessdom, princedom, magic, and the heroic “chosen ones”; all these impossible worlds that may encourage our imagination but ultimately fail us in achieving our real development as we encounter the inevitable realization that we are merely underwhelming human beings… not princesses, not magicians, not supermen, just underwhelming mortals with a bunch of maniacal flaws.

In particular, the fairy-tale magical world of princesses prepares a young girl for a frustrated love life, whereby her princess title and imagined royalty (that we still market as anything but the obsolete concept that it is) is the most honorary attribute she can have and that finding a prince is her ultimate goal as a princess, a young man who will be driven enough by his love for her to find her and usually save her. Even a loving father affectionately calls his daughter “my princess” because it usually represents the ultimate affection title. At her youngest age, the leading man in her life (her dad) gives her the highest royal role a lady can have, a sign of deep love and validation, valid up until she has to transition to become the princess of her next leading man, her prince charming. And her success resides in her ability to attract a prince, for this ultimately defines her princessness… And how does a lady achieve that? Well, a prince comes for beauty because beauty makes a princess. In other words, beauty makes a woman, that’s what we tell our little girls.

And so we allow this princess culture to objectify our little girls, whose “coming of age” usually entails the need to become sexy and beautiful enough to be looked at, and be “the fairest of them all”… And ultimately, this quest has a huge impact on the self-esteem of these girls. The craving for validation and attention becomes a central concern in a girl’s life. While it is perfectly normal for a child to ask for validation from his/her parents, giving that validation through the status of princessdom ultimately inflates our children with unreal self-esteem issues that will never meet reality. A little girl dressed as a princess elicits adoration and adulation from adults, a lovely feeling, and she may keep seeking that same adoration as she grows older through her looks, craving the treatment of princessdom that she once falsely had as a child, only to be underwhelmed with the results, sometimes to a hurtful degree.

I am not suggesting that parents should forbid their little girl from dressing up as a princess, but rather that they should make sure that they duly reinforce her other qualities as well, such as her kindness, her athleticism, her intelligence, her humor, and her desire to do good in the world, for it is those qualities that ultimately make the finest woman.

I, thus, share with you the story of a Texan mother who shunned Disney princesses and dressed up her 5-year old daughter as five real heroines of history, influential women who advanced our society by being real women, not fictional, impossible characters.

Kudos to you, Jaime Moore.

You may read about her here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2323795/Mother-shuns-Disney-Princess-ideal-dresses-daughter-REAL-heroines-history-commemorate-fifth-birthday.html

Written by Sara El-Yafi

35 Comments

  1. Beti Herschman · May 14, 2013

    An important piece on the insidious dangers of princess culture…by a true princess in her own right (in only the best sense of the word)

  2. Antoun Halabi · May 14, 2013

    I totally agree, I think it’s an amazing idea / initiative which may have a positive impact on kids in setting their aspirations deeper and higher… particularly at such a young age where they are so vulnerable and their personalities and views of the world are being forged…

    • Sara El-Yafi · May 14, 2013

      Exactly. All seeds sown in a child’s mind become that child’s tree of life. Encouraging real qualities instead of imaginary statuses helps forge a child’s secure, loving view of the world.

  3. Beti Herschman · May 14, 2013

    Bravo.

  4. Annie Tazbaz · May 14, 2013

    The Absolute truth !

  5. Rakan Khalifa Al-Ajeel Tourbah · May 14, 2013

    Whistlers mother far right? Cant tell who the rest are.
    1. Coco chanel
    2. Anne frank or titanic survivor
    3. Defiantely an actress
    4. No idea
    5. ?

    • Sara El-Yafi · May 14, 2013

      1. Coco Chanel
      2. Jane Goodall, the great British anthropologist who is best known for studying Tanzania’s chimpanzees, also a UN messenger of peace
      3. Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic and setting many aviation records
      4. Helen Keller, the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor’s university degree (Her teacher Anne Sullivan, another amazing woman and also visually impaired, deserves much of the credit)
      5. Susan B. Anthony, the prominent American civil rights leader who was a major player in advancing the 19th century women’s rights movement by lobbying to introduce women’s suffrage into the United States

    • Samar Youssef Eid · May 14, 2013

      Awesome …. Beauty & Brains do co-exist. I love that at my kids school they encourage what uou are saying by having dress up days as your favorite influential women in history. For this year My 9 y.o. chose Sacajewea & my 7 year old Emilia Earhart. Off course they still love Ariel & Disney world …… We all do to an extent. But not to idealize them as role models & realizing these are fantasies fairy tales & having nothing in common with real life is the most important task on hand!

  6. Nadine Mneimneh · May 14, 2013

    I don’t mind sparing little girls from the reality for a decade or so, as it always catches up with you or just blows up in your pretty little face ( this is part of toughening up, building character, maturing etc..) The pursuit of Beauty has always existed, and it will never stop. Art is the most obvious expression of this quest, and these Disney characters are not just about beauty ! God knows why I fancy beard guys, maybe I have watched too many times the beauty and the beast haha maybe beard and hairy guys should be thankful for that movie lol

  7. Lina Anabtawi Jaghoub · May 14, 2013

    Beautifully written Sara. Hope you don’t mind me sharing it with others

  8. Samar Zacharia · May 14, 2013

    Thank you as usual very well written with Witt and intelligence ! Sharing

  9. Doha Amin · May 14, 2013

    they are all white women though. i wish if this princess mix reflect reality with its all colors. women of color should be included as well!

    • Annie Tazbaz · May 14, 2013

      @ Doha ,I agree ,to only name Oprah , or Madame Obama ..,,,,,

    • Sara El-Yafi · May 17, 2013

      I agree with you Doha. I would have added Rosa Parks as a heroine for instance… As for Disney, if you think about it, the princesses “of color” are actually the tougher, more independent ones, like Mulan and Pocahontas. Funny no? Actually, Belle was pretty tough too, falling in love with a beast and stuff. That’s hard.

  10. Nadim Haddad · May 14, 2013

    I couldn’t disagree more with most of your first paragraph. With every fiber of my magical and immortal being 😉

  11. Intaliqi · May 14, 2013

    Well said Sara El-Yafi!

  12. Sue Addenbrooke · May 14, 2013

    I see your princess and raise you Princess Smartypants!

  13. Tobie Openshaw · May 14, 2013

    Very thought-provoking

  14. Lynn Petty · May 14, 2013

    Love this

  15. Wissam El Cheikh Hassan · May 14, 2013

    ain’t nobody got anything on Mulan … also that princess from Brave … Rapunzel too … I have a 4 year old girl, don’t judge me …

  16. Rachelle Chamoun Nader · May 14, 2013

    Hi Sara, it is so true and I see this much to often in our community the flaws from this type of parenting start to show once “there so called princess” becomes an adult. Frankly I’m not a fan of this type unreal and superficial behavior.
    Keep writing I love reading them 🙂

  17. Ghazi Abu-Salem · May 15, 2013

    Bravo Sara and thank you. I agree with you wholeheartedly. As we already know, the underlying theme of almost every popular fairytale is the fair maiden in distress where her life is helpless and miserable until some stupid prince or knight in white and shinning armor comes and saves her and they live happily ever after. That is unrealistic and damaging on so many levels, and the impact lasts well into adulthood. I am sure you’ve already heard about the real life Barbie that has had numerous surgical proceeders to look exactly and unrealistically like Barbie http://18posts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/REAL-LIFE-BARBIE-500×409.png. Furthermore, in my own personal friendships and my not so illustrious dating career (tongue in cheek) so many grown women of a certain generation show serious issues dealing with their weight and appearance, and unrealistic expectation of relationships that they are constantly unhappy accepting what is real. I am in favor of anything that help uplift young girls’ self-esteem and self image and expand their horizons personally and professionally where they can view themselves as beautiful, capable, worthy and independent individuals. And as an uncle who has 3 nieces that are under 10 years old, this is an extermely important concern. And you Sara are a great example for all those young girls. Bravo and thank you again for spotlighting this issue.

    • Ghazi Abu-Salem · May 15, 2013

      Thanks Rakan, this is the same girl I posted but a few operations later. You can see the drastic change, even though she’d already complete over 20 procedures at that point. I’d like to know what idiot doctor is operating on her.

  18. Ibrahim AlHusseini · May 15, 2013

    Thanks for bringing more light unto these issues Sara. I wrote a whole diatribe about this then erased it.

    Here are two links that expand on this issue:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pfq000AF1i8

    I recommend them both, but the second one IMHO is not to be missed.

  19. Salem Zacka · May 15, 2013

    Beautiful

  20. Fadi-Pierre Singer · May 16, 2013

    Remplacer la princesse par la femme… Un projet de Jamie Moore, mis en lumière par Sara El-Yafi

    • Danaé Rose · May 17, 2013

      Suis mitigée… remplacer la princesse par la femme c’est encore un projet qui oublie l’essentiel c’est-à-dire la capacité de nos enfants à rêver … il semble que le rôle de la femme ait évolué au sein de notre société alors pourquoi ne pas faire évoluer le rôle de nos princesses….au lieu de vouloir les remplacer 😉

  21. Paula Haddad · May 16, 2013

    I really loved what this mum did!

  22. Yasmine Kreidie · May 16, 2013

    Excellent post, Sara 🙂

  23. Jana Zein · May 16, 2013

    Ahmad Hamad i think wev found our paper

  24. Jad Kahil · May 16, 2013

    Beautifully said…Thx for the prespective… Its says a lot about the current trends in plastic surgery 🙂

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