It's no secret that little girls love princesses. Most moms of daughters have taken their little princesses to grocery stores in full costume, including gown, plastic high heels, "jewels", and tiara.
But allowing girls to play with princess toys is controversial. Are we teaching our daughters that they need to wait for a prince to save them? Is the focus on pretty dresses and makeup encouraging our daughters to place too much of an emphasis on their outward appearance?
Faced with the overwhelming popularity of princesses, most parents allow their daughters to play with all the toys that go along with the craze with the assurance that it's all make-believe, their daughters will grow out of the princess phase, and because of that, that princess obsession is harmless.
But, what if a love of princesses is better than "just harmless?" What if it's actually something we should encourage?
That's the contention of Jerramy Fine in her book, "In Defense of the princess: How plastic tiaras and fairytale dreams can inspire smart, strong women."
Here are some of the reasons Fine encourages parents to embrace their daughters' love of princesses.
It's actually an anti-feminist message to send our kids when we encourage our daughters to play with stereotypically "boy toys" like footballs and Matchbox cars, but steer them away from "girl toys" like Barbies and princess toys. The lesson our girls could be internalizing is that there's something wrong with "girly toys" and something wrong with them for being drawn to them.
Fine points out that in each of the princess stories, the princess is actually the main character, not the prince, and that, more than waiting for the prince to come save them, the underlying message of the princess stories is that dreaming big dreams is a good thing and that there's something deep down inside of them that will allow them to achieve even those things that seem impossible. When our daughters play princess, that's often what they're internalizing.
What's so wrong with having an interest in pretty dresses, makeup and sparkly tiaras? Of course it's not good if a girl thinks her only value comes from her outward appearance, but dressing up can be perfectly legitimate fun.
Whatever your opinion on the princess culture, Fine makes an interesting argument, and it's something for parents of daughters to consider.