Monday, February 28, 2011

Toddlers and Tiaras

On Saturday, my husband's battalion hosted a Mother/Daughter "Princess Party". They are hosting family events each month until deployment to help the spouses meet other families, and get to know them before we go through deployment together. It's a great idea, and the team did a wonderful job decorating the classroom and preparing special princess snacks like mini cupcakes and molded chocolate on pretzel rods. My daughter was so excited to go, because she got to wear a pink ballerina outfit that has been in her closet for a year awaiting an appropriate occasion. She had fun getting her face painted, putting on dress-up jewelry, coloring pictures, taking stickers, and meeting the other princesses in their gowns (and of course eating all the sugar, too!).

But despite the fun atmosphere, I confess that there is something within me that is a little bit anti-princess. And I think it has only come out since I have been a mom. As a child, I LOVED playing dress-ups, wearing my mom's jewelry, and reading fairy tales. Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney movie. We didn't have a lot of store-bought costumes, so we played with a trunk of my grandmother's clothes from the roaring 20's, or we just danced around in our ballet recital costumes. But by the time I got to grade school I moved on to other interests, and became more of a tomboy.

But as soon as we found out we were having a girl, this anti-princess gene came out in me. It's not that I don't want her to enjoy the same things I did. But it seems like there is a more intentional marketing program aimed at little girls these days. Being a little princess isn't about play anymore. It's about primping, and accessorizing. Basically very selfish traits that encourage girls to shop young, buy more, and focus on themselves instead of others. Not exactly what I want to teach my toddler about growing up! So we painted her room green, not pink. We try to buy colorful, but neutral toys that her brother will enjoy too. She wears dresses to church and special occasions, but comfortable play clothes on other days. I tell her she has pretty hair (when it is combed), but I also praise her for being kind to brother, for good singing and dancing, or for being a good listener. Of course she enjoys some dress-ups, and her princess books and movies, and I am fine with that. But I think she will be attracted to them enough without any encouragement from me. Basically, I just want her to develop into an intelligent, well-rounded girl, who is interested in more than clothes and make-up. Have you had similar struggles with raising a girl? What do you think about our culture's emphasis on princesses?

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