If you’re the parent or caretaker of a little girl, chances are you’ve heard or read about the damaging effects of the “Princess Culture” we see so prevalent in our society today. In fact, articles about Princess culture were recently trending on Facebook and social media, which is what prompted me to write this blog post. Even caretakers of little boys know what I’m referring to: that being said, a lot of what I’m writing on today does tend to lean heavily towards little girls. I want to make it absolutely clear to you, reader, that I am a politically correct person, and do understand that this can and does apply to many little boys out there – as well as to boys who identify as girls, and vice versa, and to children who don’t identify yet at all. For the sake of clarity in this post, I am going to refer mostly to little girls, but I do include everyone I have previously mentioned within all of these further mentions.
Where do we even begin to dissect this “Princess Culture”? There are prime examples in literature out now, from “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture” by Peggy Orenstein, to “The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion” by Virginia Postrel, as well as “The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years” by Rebecca Hains.
So what is this culture I’m referring to? It’s the enforcement of toys, clothes, movies, and roles that are “just for girls.” It’s the concern that Princess culture will create lasting impressions on generations of women – affecting their self-esteem, body image, societal and feminine roles, as well as encouraging consumerism and narcissism.
For more information and a history of Princess Culture, articles listed here also have further information:
Does this happen? Yes it does. Does this heavily affect every little girl who lives in the Princess Culture? No, it does not. I urge parents and caretakers to conduct their own research into this phenomenon. Create ways that allow your child to have freedom to pursue their interests – whether that be Princesses, cartoons, toys, science, sports, art, anything that allows them to explore what they like and are passionate about. Create mindful discussions that allow children to explore what this all means – discuss a character’s positive traits instead of her beauty or her pink dress. Broaden your child’s interests. Help them be well-rounded individuals.
Can we escape Princess Culture? Not entirely. It’s been ingrained in our western society for decades, from fictional stories to real-life Princesses that lived not so long ago. Is it bad if my daughter or son wants to embrace Princess Culture? I don’t think so. A child can love Princesses and still love other things in life. A child can love the colour pink and still want to be an engineer when they grow up. I found a great article from PBS.org that lists ways you can help your child be well-rounded: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/navigating-princess-culture/
So we can’t run or hide from Princess Culture, especially when referring to the western first world, that is certain. And so I come to the known phrase: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”
I have created a business that centers on Princesses. Some people may believe I am actively encouraging Princess Culture. They may believe that I am buying into the consumerism. That I am making money from this terrible, terrible societal problem. They believe this because they have never seen the work we do here at Enchanted Fables.
Everyone here at our company realizes there is no escaping the Princess Culture. So instead, we take it upon ourselves to actively try and change this culture for the better. We realize time and time again, party after party, that we are role models. And I’m not saying this lightly – we are literally idols to these children. Kids of all ages know us when they see us – they have watched these movies hundreds of times, own countless toys with our faces on them, dress up and pretend to be these characters, and strive to be the spitting image of these Princesses. They find themselves within these fictional people. Dressing up as these characters bears a heavy responsibility, everything that we do can affect a child.
We at Enchanted Fables see the enormous influence we wield. And we want to make absolute sure we are changing lives for the better.
We enter a party or event with a bang – carrying our party supplies and chatting happily away as to how we traveled to your kingdom. We weave tales of humour and adventure as we describe flying in an airplane and traveling aboard a ship on the open sea. Suddenly, one little guest shows us her Princess dress – a beautiful pink gown fashioned to look like a replica of a character. We remark at how wonderful it is that she decided to be a Princess that day, and we ask her if she is just as kind and brave as the character she is imitating. We steer away from clothes, beauty, and looks – we emphasize positive qualities such as honesty, intelligence, and kindness.
All of our activities encourage children to become their own heroes. Our party games include everyone, our dance moves draw everyone in. Children receive name tags and always have a choice of what they want to be that day – whether that is a Princess, Knight, Fairy, Ninja, or Pirate. We’ve had children who have wanted to be a pineapple, to which our characters happily exclaim how amazing they are as a pineapple. You can choose to be anything you want to be.
We host Princess and Pirate makeovers, but with a twist – everything helps your child become their own hero. Glitter hairspray contains pixie dust, and so every child has the chance to make a wish when we spray some in their hair. Every nail polish colour has a different super power – one has kindness and courage, one has curiosity and intelligence, one has the power of friendship and love. Nothing makes us happier when the whole family wants a nail polish super power – father and brothers included.
Our storytelling uses my favourite children’s book of all time, titled “How to Be a Princess,” that includes such wonderful chapters as “How to Be as Smart as a Princess” (Read your favourite books, and make sure to do your homework!), “How to Be a Good Friend Like a Princess” (Be loyal, and try new activities together!), and “How to Be as Brave as a Princess” (Think for yourself, and never be shy about what’s important to you!).
And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg for us. We hire performers who are all shapes and sizes – from weight, to height, as long as our characters look believable. We want children to see these heroes as real people – people who might have freckles, slightly larger hips, or are taller than her peers. Our parties are not just entertainment – they are setting positive examples as role models. We can’t fight the Princess Culture, or run from it, or hide – but we can make it a positive influence in your child’s life.
I grew up amidst the Princess Culture, and I think I turned out alright – and I’m prepared to continue this legacy on as long as its future is filled with empowerment for children.