A world full of princesses: the new feminism?Posted: 23.10.2013
Princess car stickers, princess T-shirts and baseball caps, princess lunchboxes, booster seats, luggage… Stop! We’re not all royals!
In Britain (how is it in the rest of the world?) parents douse their daughters in this sickly pink, totally false and irritating fantasy. Every month, some innovative manufacturer designs a new childhood accessory which can be ‘princessified’.
I have to ask why.
A few things strike me.
1. Why don’t boys get the same treatment?
2. What do parents have planned for their girls?
3. If our Kate and William have a girl, will they have this paraphernalia?
I fear those parents might be raising the most self-centred, boorish people. After all, as laypeople, how do we perceive royalty? That they get everything they want. Is this how these glittery pink girls live?
Hoards of princesses now populate the UK. Will they all end up vying for power and kingdoms in their virtual world of monarchy? Millions of girls who’ve been brought up thinking they’re princesses because they’ve got a plastic tiara and some daft plastic shoes. (I wouldn’t have my daughter wearing those…) will one day have to make the transition from royalty to subject.
Something grates on me when I see a girl in a silly T-shirt claiming to be a princess. I want to know what’s behind it.
Is it simply attention-seeking? If so, who’s the attention for? Is it the latent wish of parents (maybe Mums more so, though I hate to point the finger) to dress up as a princess? Be treated as special?
Do parents hope their little one will get red carpet treatment? Is the subtext for this, ‘Please treat me nicely, I’ve been neglected all my life’? I suspect so. Or is it to show the world that if they have a special daughter, they too must be special (Kings and Queens, we assume…)
In fact I think they’re two sides of the same coin. The equation looks something like this: neglect as child = hunger for love in adulthood = craving for attention to substitute lack of real love (including through one’s own offspring) = lost and desperate buying of shiny, bright princess stuff for daughters… It’s just an educated guess.
It reminds me of Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules instilling in the orphans that they were loved, wanted, special: ‘Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.’
But I take it even further. What kind of philosophy does this teach girls? That they can only marry princes (rich guys) or that they’re too good for anyone! (Come on parents, time to get those ‘prince on board’ stickers on your car.)
I’m not a great one for banging on about women’s rights: people need right and that’s that. But I feel slightly frightened about what these boa-wearing, blinged-out, precocious girls will grow up believing about the world.
Is this a parent’s way of opting out of the whole issue?
I think some of it is rooted in the lack of time parents have for their children (boys and girls). So the princess culture is a sort of wholesale, easy, throwing all the elements of good parenting at their daughters in a feather-ridden, diamante, netting-flounced heap. There! Now be a good girl…
Well I’ll watch with interest as a generation of girls realise somewhere in their teens that
- there are millions of other princesses out there and
- a princess sticker doth not a princess make
If anyone needs royalty status, it’s boys today. My God! Surrounded by waves of these overblown, proud girls who are too good for everyone! Boys, better watch out!