The following post is available over at Forbes blogs – Work in Progress:
Most women can remember a time in her childhood when she ran through a store looking for the pink section.
Between all the dolls and stuffed animals, there would be those precious items that could completely change your world: the dress up clothes, crowns and tutus, magic wands and plastic sparkly shoes–everything you needed to be a princess holding court or hosting a tea party.
I did play a lot of dress up, and I can remember wanting to be the princess. Well, let me rephrase that: I wanted to be a princess who could wear pants, wrestle her enemies and hang with theGhostbusters on the weekend. I have two brothers, so most of my make-believe included taking something that might have been girlie and making it fit my brothers’ game.
I think about the concept of princess today, and it’s kind of the same. Recently I watched Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, and if Tiana isn’t the concept of a hard-working, roll-with-the-punches, let’s-save-ourselves-together kind 0f princess, I don’t know what is. (I have yet to see Tangled.)
As women have been fighting for equal rights and rights of choice, you see women making those choices to be “new school” princesses. Kate Middleton is a modern girl, able to stand under paparazzi pressure and trek through Africa gracefully. She isn’t shunning the opportunity to be a girl, but she isn’t letting it limit her either.
We also have the ultra-girlie world, something Peggy Orenstein brings to us in her book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. At the same time we’re telling young girls they can be anything when they grow up, we might be slightly afraid that they want to be lazy, entitled princesses with no grip on reality.
So what do we do?
We keep providing the variety of possibility. If you want to be a princess who hangs out with Ghostbusters, then break out your Proton Pack and chase after green slime balls. If you want to wear crowns and dress only in pink, there are lots of options for your wardrobe.
What we have to remember, however, is that princesses have all kinds of responsibilities, and they need the skills to complete those. A princess can learn quantum physics, cooking, and a mean fast pitch if she knows how important it is for a princess to learn.
There is a place for the girlie-girl and tomboy princess in our society, with lots of varieties in between. What kind of princess are you?
Image by Getty Images via @daylife.