*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.