Embracing My Inner Princess
The first thing I said when my husband and I learned we were expecting a daughter was, “OK, but we’re not doing the pink princess thing.” Famous last words. Hope was born seemingly hard-wired to be the girliest girl in the world – she wouldn’t even wear pants until 1st grade. Her passion extended to giving every one of her toys female names and making us substitute “she” for all pronouns in every bedtime story we read to her. And whenever there was a choice of color – for anything from a t-shirt to a toy to an ice cream cone – the answer was (and still is) “pink.”
For someone who lives in jeans and t-shirts and has more male friends than female ones, this has been a challenge. But I’ve always believed in supporting my kids’ individual passions, so over the years I’ve become intimately acquainted with the many variations of pink, and with every Disney Princess, American Girl and Barbie on offer. We’ve had countless tea parties and played “Pretty, Pretty Princess” more times than I can remember. And I discovered that affirming Hope’s taste, even though it was and is so very different from my own, provided a boost to her self-esteem and gave her the confidence to be both feminine and strong at the same time.
This has been more significant than you might imagine. Hope has a physical disability that requires her to wear leg braces, so her self-image has been vulnerable from time to time. But her own absolute faith in her beauty, femininity and grace has made that her reality. It also led my mother and I to an idea for a children’s book series, The Very Fairy Princess, about a little girl who so believes she is a fairy princess that she overcomes all the naysayers and obstacles in her path.
- Isn’t princess a pejorative term?
- Should we really be encouraging girls to aspire to be princesses? Won’t that make them shallow or materialistic?
- Aren’t there already a glut of princess-themed books in the marketplace?
Perhaps. But their glittery covers notwithstanding, the Very Fairy Princess books are actually about inner sparkle rather than surface-level glam. “You can be anything you want to be,” says Geraldine, our heroine. “You just have to let your sparkle out!”
So now we find ourselves launching National Princess Week, April 23-29th… and in preparation for the event, I compiled a list of over seventy modern-day princesses and their causes for our young readers. As I did my research, I experienced a shift from paying lip service to the good work that princesses do, to gaining a newfound respect for their real value and contribution to the world. From their charitable endeavors – which are extensive and varied – to their dignity, strength and individuality, it turns out that princesses are, in fact, terrific role models for girls.
I’ll keep my blue jeans… but I might just wear a tiara to breakfast one day. After all, as Gerry would say, “Even a fairy princess is allowed to change her mind.”