The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Princesses in a Positive Light

The official Disney Princess line-up (L-R): Ariel, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Belle, Rapunzel, Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana, Mulan, and Snow White.

Many little girls want to be princesses and adore the Disney versions, but parents are so often told that these princess-obsessions create shallow or weak girls. But are Cinderella, Ariel, and Jasmine really all that bad? What about real life princesses? Many girls and women have admired Princess Diana or Duchess Kate. I think that little girls can look up to princess role models and still grow up to be empowered and successful women. One of my favorite quotes is "I'm fairly certain that with a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world." Girls should be able to wear girly dresses and have royal tea parties and, when the time comes, they can still save the world.

Hugo Schwyzer wrote about this trend of princess-free daughters. In his article "Is a Disney-Free Daughter Really a More Empowered One?," he explains that princesses can be good role models. Modern princess tales for children include positive messages such as gender equality. No Time for Flashcards, a site about children’s learning, posted a list of over a dozen princess storybooks with positive messages. Even the classic Disney princesses teach valuable lessons. For example, Belle from Beauty and the Beast loves reading, and does not settle for the first man who wishes to marry her. What parent does not want to encourage those things for their daughters?

Many parents, writers, and other "experts" are against princesses as role models. As a former princess-obsessed little girl, I’m not so convinced. It is up to girls and parents to decide what messages to take away from the princess genre–the same as they would do with any other area of influence. So it is up to you. Will you choose to be princess-free, or will you proudly don your cape and tiara and make a difference in the world?

-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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