The Princess Effect

As a little girl, I was never into the “princess” thing.  I never dressed up like a princess, I never dreamed of a white knight coming to rescue me and my favorite movies did not involve Cinderella, Snow White or Aurora.  So when I asked my brother what my niece wanted for her 2nd birthday, I was a bit out of my element when the response I received was “anything to do with princesses”.  Not to say that I don’t love all things girly – give me a pedicure and a something sparkly and I’m a happy woman.  But for some reason when I think about buying something “princess-related”, it bothers me.  Does allowing your daughter, sister, niece or granddaughter to buy into the princess complex harm her in the long run?

Let’s take a look at the facts from the standard princess fairy tale:

  • All princesses are beautiful (funny, there is never a mention of their large brains)
  • Princesses require a charming prince to save them from their fate (whether it be a lifetime of cleaning, poisoning from an apple or a lifelong nap)
  • Princesses would never be caught dead in a pair of sensible (and play-friendly) pants – pink and frilly all the way!

By playing princess, will my niece feel pressure to have the perfect looks and body when she gets older?  Will she rely on her beauty instead of her brains?  Will she require a man to take care of her when she gets in trouble or to be the basis of her happiness?  Will she have less respect for herself or self-confidence if she doesn’t have these things? Will she view her main purpose as that of an accessory to a man’s life, instead of as the central character in her own?

Considering she is not the only little girl in the past 50 years who has asked for the Cinderella movie to be played on a constant loop, the answer is probably “no”.  But knowing that she will be soon facing a world filled with teen pop stars who have questionable morals and little self-respect, I will probably forgo the princess gift.  Instead I think I will opt for some sensible non-pink clothes and perhaps pick her up the movie “Mulan”.

The Princess Effect


Note: The Girls’ Respect Groups program focuses on what respect is for self and others, paying attention to our inner voice, positive & negative influences of media and how to recognize hidden disrespect…skills that all future princesses need!



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