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The Princess Obsession

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 

I have 2 DD's--a 3.5yo and a 1yo.  As some background, I have never liked the idea of Princess stuff and the whole craze surrounding it.  I am not against characters as a whole as I feel like my DD has learned from Elmo and Dora but the whole princess thing really turns me off.  There is nothing, in my opinion to be learned from it. 

 

I currently work at a company that makes jewelry for little girls and also some dress up clothes, including Disney princess, Dora, Barbie etc.  I brought home a lot of hair and jewelry stuff and my DD LOVES playing with it and putting a lot on etc.  She also loves the dress up stuff.  For a long time it was an occasional thing for her to dress up and get "pretty" but now it is becoming VERY frequent.  We don't tell her she looks like a princess or anything like that but we do allow her to dress up and SHE says it.  There is a little girl at daycare (her best friend and the only other girl her age) that is very much into princess and her parents totally encourage it.  It is really rubbing off on my DD as she talks about "going to the ball" and other things that we have never said.  She also really likes putting on make-up and told me the other day that she wasn't pretty yet because she didn't have make up on. 

 

That was a turning point for me where I feel like I have totally gotten away from what I wanted for her and that I did this.  How can I fix this?  I know I can take it all away but I feel really bad considering how much she loves it but am planning to take away at least the dress up stuff. I know that we can't do much about the girl at daycare but what can I do to fix this or is it inevitable? 

 

Thanks for any tips you might have.

post #2 of 76

My DD and my Niece (5 and 4) play dress up all the time. They have a ton of princess dresses and love to put them on and walk around in a fancy way. They also swing, play with firetrucks, go on bike rides or whatever in their princess gear. I know there has been a whole lot of uproar lately condemning princess play and I feel it's overblown. Or at least I don't see it as causing alot of problems among the young girls I know. A few weeks ago DD had 3 friends over, they immediately put on princess outfits, then collected magnifying glasses and flashlights and proceeded to tear around the house finding clues and catching bad guys. DD and DN also spend alot of time pretending to be animals. Pretend play is a good thing whether it's princess, animal, army or whatever--as long as it's not directed or controlled by adults I think it's great. It becomes problematic when the play is just re-enacting whatever kids see in videos and films, and again I don't think it maters if it's princess stuff or some equally horrifying (to adults) male associated thing like army or swat--if it's coming from the kids' imagination then don't sweat it. If it's adult imposed ideas of what should be fun then that's not so great.

 

Also I know some people think it's "bad" if it involves disney characters or merchandise. I don't agree with that. Just cause there's a picture of snow white from the disney movie on the dress doesn't mean the child can't use it imaginatively.

 

One final thought I would focus on the other awesome creative things you provide for your DDs' play environment, instead of sweating it too much if they learn about "going to the ball" from a friend. In other words I wouldn't over worry about the one happy meal she ate during carpool, but focus on the frequent fruits and veggies you make sure she gets at home...if that makes sense!

 

:)

post #3 of 76

I really don't think it matters what you do...somehow if a little girl is attracted to princesses, she'll find them.  We have never watched a disney princess movie, and didn't buy princess products.  We watched the royal wedding, but only about 10 minutes of it.  Ever since then, my 4 year old has been OBSESSED with princesses and princess stories and has found the disney princess books at the library, and my 2 year old refuses to wear anything that isn't a twirly dress and silver sparkly shoes (because that's what princesses wear, she says!)  Go figure.

post #4 of 76

... i hate the princess stuff.  hate hate hate.  it makes me Cuss.gif

i don't know what you can really do except try to probe a little with conversations.  like.. why does makeup mean you're pretty?  what other things are pretty?  etc. 

had you seen this book by Peggy Orenstein?  she's written about the princess phenomenon a good bit. 

the blog pigtail pals is pretty cool..

and i agree with pp.. acting out a movie with princesses over and over again verbatim = not good.  open ended, imaginary play that happens to feature princess = much better.

post #5 of 76

I found empowering princesses in movies and books for my dd.  The Barbie movies are mostly about strong princess and fairy characters who don't get married (with a few exceptions) so we watched those and I pointed that out.  Elmo and Dora also have princess stories that are kid friendly and give a good message.  There are also many books with strong princess characters.  This is just a phase like fighting with magic powers and super heros.  I wouldn't worry about it beyond making sure that at home you portray girls and women as strong and capable people. 

 

 

post #6 of 76
For me its not so much "princess stuff" that I hate, its the insane amount of advertising that goes with it. I think Disney princesses have their place: at Disney world, Disney land, and when going to see a Disney movie. Personally, we dont own a lot of movies, and I think not having tons of princessey stuff and movies all over the house is great because it encourages kids to think of other "pretty" stuff to dress up in. My LO is still a baby, but we encourage faery stuff instead of princess stuff, mainly because I think its fun to wear dress up clothes, but I dont like that there is a specific story associated with certain princesses (girl is in trouble, man comes to save her, blah blah). Id rather DD make her own stories up, but I know my heart will probably fall into a million pieces one day when she points to a cinderella shirt and wants it.
post #7 of 76

I don't have an answer for you, but my DD is obsessed with princesses too. It what she likes right now and it makes her happy. I'm just hoping that she grows out of it by jr high.

post #8 of 76

I don't care so much about princesses as I do about the whole "I am a princess" attitude. I hope I am wording that well. I see girls with shirts that say "I am a princess" and it usually refers to them being spoiled and proud of it. I do not like that. Also a bit of a girls are better than boys attitude. 

post #9 of 76

I find my dd's interest in princesses irks me - I don't share it, I'd rather not support disney and don't like how they lump all the girl characters together.  I don't like how her interest is so encouraged by other friends with all the princess stuff at their house either - I avoid bringing disney princess stuff aside from books into our house.

 

I *do* encourage her to use the 'princess' idea imaginatively and vary it a little with playtime ideas of fairies, elves, mermaids (so similar, but kinda different).  I remind her that quite a few of these 'princesses' are actually just normal girls like her who happened to become princesses.  I have her watch xena warrior princess with me & dh for a way different 'princess' experience.  

 

I'll add that we've talked about this sometimes with dd's preschool teacher (who doesn't like the princess thing either) and when everyone gets to talking about it too much at school, she'll explain some basic limits that monarchy and being a princess has in real life to the kids.  I like that angle on it too - it's good to know about how something like a princess is based in real life.

post #10 of 76
Thread Starter 

Good thoughts and I have been meaning to buy that book but I haven't gotten around to it--a project for my lunchhour!

 

I wouldn't mind her playing with that stuff if it was pretending in that way but she puts it on and flounces around with this demure look on her face and talks constantly about getting married.  Honestly, I have not idea where that came from and I don't think she even knows what it means but boy, is it making me crazy!  I think that we are going to put the dresses away for now and I am going to go to goodwill to find some new dress up clothes. 

post #11 of 76

Eh, it doesn't bug me. I don't think kids need to "learn from" every single thing they're into. It's probably just a phase. I think that on this site there's a lot of pride displayed in kids of both sexes who gravitate towards toys/activities that are typically intended for the opposite sex (so, girls who like playing in the mud and boys who like pink frills). It's that whole "aren't we such a delightfully progressive family" thing. But then if the boy wants to play in the mud, or the girl wants to wear pink frills, it's suddenly a concern. I think the message should be to accept them as they are, even if they don't play into our adult desire to have perfect little counterculture clones. 

post #12 of 76

Honestly, I personally think you are kind of making a big deal out of it for nothing.  You know, I played princesses (and barbies. *gasp*).  I walked around in pretty dresses and plastic heels and fake makeup and made up games about getting married to a prince and blah blah blah.  And you know what?  As an adult, I'm a fairly down to earth, reality based person, very outdoors loving and earthy, rarely wear makeup or jewelry, do not dress up in fancy clothes at all, etc.  Just because a little girl pretends to be a princess does not in any way correlate with being a vain adult who only wants to marry for money and prizes her looks above all else.  I think that sometimes, and you see it a lot on this site, people take their ideals and let it run away with them without basing it in any sort of reality--like princesses or army toys or plastic toys or formula or saying 'good job' to a child will somehow make them into horrible self-centered drones.  Part of being AP is following the child's cues...if you take away what she loves and what her interest is at that point, you're kind of teaching her that her values and her likes don't matter...that they're naughty and bad...and eventually, that comes back to bite you when they then either develop a passion for the forbidden fruit, or they stop showing you what they love.  And you take away something that makes them truly happy.  My 2 year old and 4 year old are never happier than when they are twirling around in princess dresses, arms full of baby dolls, while pushing their plastic shopping cart around the house.  Who am I to take that away from them simply because *I* don't think Disney Princesses are good role models.  They are babies.  This is what they love.  They are pretending and having fun (and if you, like me, have a child with autism, you will come to celebrate the pretend play that comes from that child or their siblings because it's truly not something to take for granted.)  And they likely are not going to be vain airhead P@ris Hilt0n types when they get older...

post #13 of 76


YES!!!!!!  Kids shouldn't be billboards for alternative lifestyles.  Kids are kids.  Kids playing like they naturally do, and us accepting their natural play is as natural parenting as one can get...  It could be worse...they could be playing 12 hours of video games a day.  Instead, they are pretending, playing, socializing, using their imagination, and having fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

Eh, it doesn't bug me. I don't think kids need to "learn from" every single thing they're into. It's probably just a phase. I think that on this site there's a lot of pride displayed in kids of both sexes who gravitate towards toys/activities that are typically intended for the opposite sex (so, girls who like playing in the mud and boys who like pink frills). It's that whole "aren't we such a delightfully progressive family" thing. But then if the boy wants to play in the mud, or the girl wants to wear pink frills, it's suddenly a concern. I think the message should be to accept them as they are, even if they don't play into our adult desire to have perfect little counterculture clones. 



 

post #14 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllyRae View Post


YES!!!!!!  Kids shouldn't be billboards for alternative lifestyles.  Kids are kids.  Kids playing like they naturally do, and us accepting their natural play is as natural parenting as one can get...  It could be worse...they could be playing 12 hours of video games a day.  Instead, they are pretending, playing, socializing, using their imagination, and having fun.



 



kids should not be billboards for consumerism, commercialism, sexism, and disney, either.

 

 

i don't know how to multiple quote: 

limabean says:

Eh, it doesn't bug me. I don't think kids need to "learn from" every single thing they're into. It's probably just a phase. I think that on this site there's a lot of pride displayed in kids of both sexes who gravitate towards toys/activities that are typically intended for the opposite sex (so, girls who like playing in the mud and boys who like pink frills). It's that whole "aren't we such a delightfully progressive family" thing. But then if the boy wants to play in the mud, or the girl wants to wear pink frills, it's suddenly a concern. I think the message should be to accept them as they are, even if they don't play into our adult desire to have perfect little counterculture clones.   

____________________

well.. the sad part of the princess stuff is that our kids ARE learning something from doing this.. that girls are weak and need to be saved.  that their appearances are of the utmost importance.  frankly, if children weren't marketed to so heavily, i don't think that much of this would be what they would choose on their own, necessarily.  i dislike it not because i have some counterculture ideal, but because i am a feminist, and i read many things about the impact of 'princess culture' on children.

 

post #15 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post





kids should not be billboards for consumerism, commercialism, sexism, and disney, either.


I agree. You won't find my kids in any clothing with characters or logos on them.


Back to the OP... try reading to her from these books....

http://www.amazon.com/Tatterhood-Other-Tales-Johnston-Phelps/dp/0912670509

http://www.amazon.com/Maid-North-Feminist-Tales-Around/dp/0805006796

My kids can still quote some of the best lines from these and I shared them with the Girl Scout troop kids to spread the love of strong women.. not just princesses.
post #16 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post


well.. the sad part of the princess stuff is that our kids ARE learning something from doing this.. that girls are weak and need to be saved.  that their appearances are of the utmost importance.  frankly, if children weren't marketed to so heavily, i don't think that much of this would be what they would choose on their own, necessarily.  i dislike it not because i have some counterculture ideal, but because i am a feminist, and i read many things about the impact of 'princess culture' on children.

 



Eh, I wasn't at all influenced by Disney movies and as a kid, I loved to play princess and bride and fairy and mom and all that girly stuff.  I also played in dirt and spent many summer days hanging out with my brother and his friends from the neighborhood, doing "boy" things.  I think it's all part of growing up and using your imagination.  Even without princess culture, I think most kids realize at some age that appearances are important.

 

I don't really see Disney princesses as weak and needing to be saved - the modern ones at least.  I enjoy movies and love watching Disney movies with my kids.  I've seen "Tangled", "Princess and the Frog", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Little Mermaid", and "Aladdin" more times than I can count.  Yes, some of the messages aren't very politically correct (like in Beauty and the Beast - all she has to do is love him enough, despite his abusive tendencies, and he'll turn into a handsome, gentle prince??), but all of the princesses are pretty independent and strong.  Yes, they DO get help from their male companion, but aren't exactly "saved", and certainly aren't weak.

 

They aren't perfect stories.  No kids' movies are.  But there is a big difference between encouraging emulating those characters and just letting a kid be a kid and play pretend and dress up.  

 

FWIW, my daughter doesn't really like playing dress-up, but loves accessorizing.  She's currently walking around in her brother's Crocs and an inflatable crown from Chuck E. Cheese.  If she wants to play princess, I'm ok with that.  She knows she isn't a princess.  She knows movies aren't reality, and are just pretend, because we talk about that.  She's only 2 but understands a lot.

post #17 of 76

My kids aren't being princesses in Disney clothes.  My little girls pretend to be princesses is regular run of the mill toddler dresses with flowy skirts.  No consumerism involved...they wear those clothes all the time anyhow.  They aren't billboards for anything...they are just cute toddlers wearing flowy dresses pretending to be princesses (which also goes to show you, if they want to play princesses, they will do it with or without the disney dresses).

 

And as for sexism...it's not sexism.  Princesses are girls.  That's all princesses can be.  There are no boy princesses.  That's not sexism...that's the english language.  And a little girl pretending to be a princess is not sexism--it's a little girl playing.  Telling a little girl she can't be a princess because it's too girly is reverse sexism.  Telling a little girl she HAS to play princess because she's a girl is sexist.  Telling a little girl she can't play in the mud because she's a girl is sexist.  Letting a little girl play a self initiated and enjoyed game of princess is not sexist...it's a little girl playing.  And my princess playing toddlers frequently strip from their flowy dresses and sparkly shoes to go running through the rain garden and playing in the mud.  IMO, it's not progressive at all to tell a girl that wants to play princess that she can't because that's too girly.  That's just absurd.  Let kids fricken be kids.

 

post #18 of 76

And my princess playing girls also do martial arts, and one is a pre-competative gymnast as well.  They are strong, independent, free willed girls.  And often times, they are doing the saving in their pretend too...whether it be princesses rescuing babies out of pretend orphanages (one of my daughters is adopted and that comes out in play a lot) or princesses using roundhouse and front kicks to get the bad guys.  A child's natural princess play doesn't have to be the parent's stereotypical idea of what a princess should be.  My kids came up with their play scenarios on their own, and not from any movie (I believe they have only ever seen the tinkerbell movie in terms of 'feminine hero' Disney movies anyhow.

post #19 of 76

Just wanted to chime in  (as a has-no-problem-with-princess-play mama) that my DD, Niece, and their friends never act "weak" or like a man has to save them when they are getting their princess groove on. As I stated up thread they are usually capturing "bad guys" or spying or whatever. A prince never even comes into it- neither does getting married.  If a prince did figure heavily in their play or if being beautiful or getting married was all they were focused on I might engage them in some critical thinking but would not try to stop their play. Their play is THEIRS.

post #20 of 76
My older daughter went through a princess phase, but not really disney princesses. She's 9 and doesn't do that anymore. The little one has no interest in princesses yet. Maybe someday? We do watch disney movies here but we don't watch a lot of tv so it isn't a frequent thing.

I don't like to direct my kids' play, but on the other hand I'd want to present some balance. I got the Tatterhood book linked in a PP, and my daughter has read it a trillion times. She loves it and I think it helped not develop the idea of it being good to be a helpless princess stuck in a tower anyway. When she made up princess stories, they were always about the princess saving the prince, or saving someone else.
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