Like many little girls, I wanted to be a princess. I wanted to wear a pointy crown and pretty ball gown dresses. I wanted to wear white gloves to tea and banquets. I wanted to find prince charming and live happily ever after in a castle.
As I got older and the Princess Epidemic began to take root, I grew to hate princesses, specifically those of the Disney variety. When I had my daughter, I vowed not to let her fall victim to the same princesses I grew up watching on tv. After spending a week in Disneyworld, I realize It was not so much the princess movies that I objected to, as much as the mind frame that many of today’s little girls have regarding being a princess. It is the selfish, self centered, lazy,diva attitude that many little girls are developing, the very UN-princess-like behavior that drove me away from the princesses that I once loved.
Honeybee is almost 2 and for the first year and a half, I was able to avoid Disney Princesses altogether. I was determined that I would not have a princess for a daughter. Part of this was not wanting to raise a girl who felt pushed into gender roles, but mostly I feared having “a princess”.
No matter how I tried Disney crept in.. My mother bringing over a box of my old toys. My in laws who live in Florida sending Disney Store gift cards for Honeybee’s birthday and Christmas presents. A friend giving us their outgrown toddler bed that happened to have Cinderella on it. My brother-in-law, who works for Disney, sending big plush Mickey and Minnie and inviting us down to Orlando. It was finally the week spent in Disney World that did me in.
Actually I have no problem with Disney, we are regular watchers of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Winnie the Pooh and Pixar films. It was just those darned princesses. I had nightmares of my sweet daughter turning into one of the many screaming, tantrum throwing, spoiled little monsters dressed in a crown and ballgown that I have seen so often in stores, in restaurants even in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. It was the un-lady-like and unrefined behavior that I feared would overtake my sweet little girl.
So this is where the downward spiral started for me: with Mickey. The plush Mickey and Minnie led to watching the Disney Channel (the little kid one not the one that seems to always have Hannah Montana on. But THAT is another blog post for another day!) Watching Disney led to Tinkerbell: which I rationalized because Tink isn’t a princess - so that was ok. Then Honeybee started playing with Jasmine who was in a box of my old dolls that came over from my parents house. Jasmine, led to Ariel and Cinderella (who were supposed to be Christmas presents for my nieces a few years back that were never sent and end up still wrapped in the basement.) Then we went to see Tangled with Mommy L, Munchkin and Pumpkin. Honeybee was enamored not with Rapunzel, but with the horse. So when I saw a playset with the horse and Rapunzel at Christmas time, I had to get it for her. Of course, now it is “Punn-sel” that is the favored of the set and not Maximus the Horse.
But alas, I am a hypocrite, as much as I avoided and disparaged princesses, I would often steal glances down the princess aisle or “cut through” the aisle just to get to the other side. I would browse the Disney store, justifying that I was there to look at the Mickey or Pixar toys andthen look at the dress up clothes commenting to myself how pretty or cute they were, then quickly adding that my Honeybee would never be like that and scoffing at it all. I went through the same process as we browsed through the (many) giftshops in DisneyWorld. But the Magic of Disney was working it’s way into my system.
By day 2 we were beelining to the princess section to look at Cinderella dolls. We stood in a 45 minute line just to see Princess Jasmine in Epcot. Daddy J and I were grappling with the difficult decision, not of whether we SHOULD get her a princess doll, but rather which one!
By day 3, I was examining details on the princess costumes and trying to commit them to memory so that I could make Honeybee her own princess wardrobe. Yes, I know I could go to Target or Toys R Us and buy them, but the ones they sold at the park were so much more detailed (and much more pricey!) and shouldn’t my baby have the best? (Just kidding!) Anyway, If I can make one like the fancy expensive park one for less than the cheap one, I might as well, right? So, by day 4 I had found patterns and materials for making the entire set of princess dresses,( and I’m not even home yet!).
We won’t even get into days 5, 6 and 7!
And now I am sitting on the plane home, with Honeybee asleep hugging Snow White and Ariel in one arm and a Tinkerbell (or as she calls her Tikkie-Bow)doll almost as big as she is in the other arm. Cinderella, Mulan and Rapunzel are in her carry-on. And I wonder: how can I say no when it makes her so happy? She is still the sweet girl who is developing goo d manners and behaves well in public.
So I realize now that my work really is not to keep her from becoming a princess, but rather to keep her from becoming a spoiled brat. Really, what I have is the task of raising a proper princess!
Disclosure: I have not been compensated in anyway by Disney, Pixar, Target or Toys R Us. All Princesses were purchased by me (or other family members).