When my daughter, Mira, was a few months old, I attended a lecture given by Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Having had a daughter who obsessed over wearing her princess dress, Orenstein chose to do some research and found that today's "girly-girl" culture and its emphasis on outer beauty could eventually have a negative impact on our daughters self esteem, body image and mental state. Consequently, I prided myself on the fact that as Mira grew up she seemed completely disinterested in princesses. "Maybe it's because she has an older brother," I'd say, while thinking, "she's so mature and obviously understands at this young age that it's the inside that counts. You don't need crowns and gowns to be beautiful. You'll be absolutely adorable if you just smile, play nice, and get dirty." Well, that didn't last long.
At around the age of 3, Mira was faced with dress up corners filled with princess attire, friends who twirled in tiaras and tulle and then, she received her very first princess dress. I admit, watching her dress up and dance around with this huge smile on her face made me stop and reevaluate. I wasn't going to fight it, I was going to enjoy and embrace it while showing her in numerous ways that it's not the outfit that makes her beautiful. As my grandmother so often said, "It's not the dress, it's the girl." I found books bearing the same message like, Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots, which has become a favorite.
This week, I supported her princess passion by taking her on a special outing to Lollipop Dream, a princess wonderland located in Sherman Oaks. We showed up for story time, danced to all kinds of music from classical to pop, threw on a few hats and boas and in the end, I watched proudly as mermaid Ariel, her favorite of the princesses, was painted onto her arm. We, yes I said "we," walked out with big smiles on our faces and are looking forward to returning for one of Lollipop's weekend princess tea parties.
I know Mira's going to see and hear plenty in her life and it's not always going to resonate in the most positive way. I have to believe though, that with the right amount of support, explanation and parental direction, she and all the other little princesses out there will turn out to be well adjusted, confident, self accepting women. In the end, when the little girl in "Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots" asks, "Do princesses seem at all like me?" She is told to "Look inside yourself and see."
Posted on Wed, May 29, 2013
by Elise Edwards filed under