Ruffles, tutus, sparkles, tiaras, and pink, pink, princess pink! One can’t help but notice when shopping for baby showers and seeing parent’s photos on Facebook –a girly-girl pretty pink princess bomb has exploded, and it has left its reminisce on every female targeted toy, outfit, and little shoe! Has it always been this way? And what are the effects on our young American girls today?
The answer is no – it has not always been this way. Many feminist researchers refer to this phenomenon as Princess Syndrome – and it is a multibillion-dollar industry that really began in 2000, launched by none other than Disney. Now there are messages everywhere teaching girls that being a princess is the best, and only, way to be. The whimsical world of a princess toddler may be subconsciously teaching lessons we don’t want our girls to internalize. Sociologists discuss that these little princesses may be learning that life is really like fairy tale, she is the center of the universe, and that physical appearance and material possessions are the highest priority. If you’ll notice above, apparently Pocahontas now wears heavy makeup and even the female warrior Mulan has been forced into the lavish ensemble she despised in the movie. Though it is great that with the duties of a princess comes the confidence of being the best, other components of “princessdom” may be negatively effecting a young girl’s values as she develops – influencing her self-esteem, her dependence on others, how she takes care of herself and how empowered she feels in her life.
If parents want to raise a girl with confidence in herself as a unique and valuable individual, they need to accept that their daughters are going to be affected by the messages they are receiving. It isn’t something that they can interpret on their own, and it is up to parents to combat the pressures of society from the outside. This being said, no one is saying princesses are evil and need to be destroyed! But conversations need to be had – often – that question the media and societal norms and help her find her own voice. Replace “princess symptoms” with heroine values. Make sure she knows that her unique qualities and talents are most important. And if the princess theme is absolutely necessary, what about a princess that is empowered to build a kingdom by herself?
Click here to watch a clip from Sesame Street featuring Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, which does a wonderful job confronting these issues.
Teaching our girls how smart, talented, and unique they are at a young age is perhaps the most important lesson of all – with a positive self-image and confidence in their abilities, the sky is the limit.
- Marina (guest blogger)
Image provided by Disney