My daughter loves the Disney Princesses. She loves the movies. She loves reading stories about them. She loves playing with toys themed around the Princesses. And she loves to dress up in Princess dresses.
And I’ve always found it pretty adorable. And I’ve clearly encouraged it – after all, I do buy most of the toys/books/games that come into our house.
But with every Princess-themed item that comes into our house, I will admit, I have a momentary twinge of guilt, that voice in the back of my mind – likely honed in my 13 years of all-girls education – asking me why I’m perpetuating the gender divide by buying into all things pink and sparkly for my daughter. I will even admit that the first princess-themed items that my daughter received were themed to Belle – precisely because of that voice – I rationalized that a book-loving princess couldn’t be all bad.
But as the kids and I looked at Cinderella this week, I couldn’t help but wonder, why there is so much angst about our daughters playing princesses.
As we read all 3 versions of Cinderella (Perrault, Hewet & Brothers Grimm), it became abundantly clear that it was not the Prince that saved her from her life as a servant to her step-mother and step-sisters, it was her kindness. And it is in fact the moral of the first two versions of the story that kindness and strength of character are worth far more than beauty ever can be.
Isn’t this exactly the sort of life lesson I want to impart to my daughter? Don’t I want her to grow up thinking that good things come to those who are good and work hard. And if going to a ball and wearing a gorgeous dress and fantastic shoes happen to be the reward for a job well done, then so be it.
And with this revelation, I hope that voice in my head has been silenced; that voice that says I should feel guilty for so willingly embracing all things Princess.
But it’s also got me wondering. If I can simultaneously buy into the Princess mystique for my daughter while exposing her to toys that bend gender barriers (toys like Goldieblox that introduce girls to the joys of engineering) and books that promote non-traditional roles for girls (books like Rosie Revere, Engineer), why can’t I do the same for my son? Where are the toys and books that glorify housekeeping and cooking and child-rearing as exciting roles for males?
But I digress. This unit on Disney is quickly become more fascinating, both for me and the kids, than I ever thought possible. I can’t wait for this week to start as we move away from Cinderella to learn more about Peter Pan and maybe even touch on Alice in Wonderland; my two favourite children’s stories of all time.