Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Princess Thing

I know it's inevitable. Like death. Like crows' feet.

And yet I struggle to accept that someday, my unaffected, babbling, tupperware tossing, bubble chasing bundle of purity will beg for Ariel. Or Jasmine or Cinderella or some other poofy dress wearing tart. I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do about it and time is running out. Peapod is almost 16 months old, so I figure I have about another 12 months or so to work out a plan.

Flat out refusal on my part to buy her any of this princess rubbish will most certainly backfire into full-blown devotion and non-stop begging on her part. But giving in completely, putting up the frilly wallpaper and letting her wear a pink taffeta doily dress to preschool every day seems like cop out.

When did The Princess Thing start? There was none of this when I grew up. In fact, quite the opposite was true -- girls who were constantly playing with dolls were subject to ridicule. And anyone fool enough to show up at the playground in a princess dress would have been quickly laughed off the swingset. But the point was moot anyway because there were no princess dresses -- or scepters or tiaras or fairy wings or glittery shoes -- for sale back then, unless it was Halloween. So that begs the question: where did this hideous phenomenon come from?

We all know the answer is Disney.

Sure, Disney characters are charming and lovely -- their sweet images still dance around in my sepia childhood memories. But it's still their fault. The princess phenomenon is nothing more than an incredible marketing plan, executed on an extremely powerful consumer insight. As a fellow marketer, I must take my hat off to them for their outrageous success. As a Mom, I'd like to punch their whole marketing department right in the face.

But before I commit battery, maybe I should have a look at myself, first. Why do I chafe at The Princess Thing? There's nothing wrong with wanting to look pretty, or with being feminine. And there's nothing wrong at all with playing make-believe. I guess my problem is the attitude that seems to go along with it. The prissy "I deserve this because I am a princess" notion, or the "Princesses don't play baseball/soccer/tennis/in the mud!" attitude is what I loath most. After all, if you approach the world with that attitude, you miss out on all the fun. And, by the way, nobody likes you either, because you're a complete bore and a total pain in the neck.

Yes, I know princess adoration is hardwired into lots and lots of girls. And as a former tomboy, I'm certain that gene has got my number. I just hope that when the time comes, I'll accept The Princess Thing for what it is, just a phase, and be confident that her freshman dorm room won't be decorated in Cinderella posters.

In the mean time, I'll keep rolling her soccer balls, hoisting her up to touch the leaves on the trees, and playing plenty of music for her to dance to. Then when the inevitable comes, maybe she'll know that she's just as beautiful with that bucket on her head as she is in the tiara.


suzr74 said...

I avoided the whole princess thing with my daughter for the longest time. It wasn't until after she was potty trained and got to pick out a new pair of underwear. She wanted princesses. I was thinking what could one thing hurt, no one is even going to see it. We have since then entered this princess hell where she doesn't even want to eat off of silverware if it doesn't have princesses on it. I think all you can do is grin and bear it. At least it is not the Bratz....

Wendy Mihm said...

Hmm. Maybe if I never buy her underwear....
Thanks for the read!