Monday, March 19, 2012

The Princess Within You---Is It Harmful?

I recently read an opinion article that little girls shouldn't be encouraged with so much princess stuff. If you've been to a little girl department of any store you can see what they're talking about---there are princess dress-up items, princess radios, phones, books, you name it. All you have to do is slap a Disney princess face on it and it's headed for the popular little girl toy lists.

The opinion in the article was that princess toys encourage princess "thinking" which hurts little girls because real-life doesn't work that way and it can be harmful to have privileged and entitled thinking nurtured at such a young age.

While I agreed with part of the opinion I thought it was too generalized, and frankly, since most little girls outgrow the princess thing by age five or so, it really was a moot point. I think that it is harmful to have entitled and privileged sorts of thinking that leads to selfish and spoiled behavior, but can you really pinpoint that on a little girl having a lot of princess toys? Personally, I like encouraging my daughter's imagination as we have princess tea parties while we wear tiaras and I have some wonderful memories of Spiderman (aka little brother) crashing the party.

It all comes down to parenting, in my opinion. Princess toys may or may not be a symptom of selfish behavior, but I don't think letting your daughter indulge in princess play is harmful unless it's taken too far. Limits are always needed. However, imagination in an era of mindless video games has it's merits, in my book.

What do you think? Can the inner princess be taken too far? Are princess toys harmful for a girl's emotional health?


Gina said...

I actually just recently finished a book called "Cinderella Ate My Daughter." It was written by a feminist trying to prove that Disney and the whole Princess/Girly/Tutu movement are collectively ruining an entire generation of girls.

Her findings?

They're not. Like you said, most girls outgrow it, and parental involvement is still the biggest indicator of academic success and avoidance of risky behaviors. Letting your little girl dress up as Belle, but telling her she's smart is okay.

Debra Erfert said...

I had two boys. Can't have any intelligent input here. But I do consider my two daughter-in-laws princesses, and will treat them as such each time we are together. So do their husbands. How is this a bad thing?

Janice Sperry said...

My little girl is just like Belle. She loves the library and she reads the books she checked out while walking back to the car.

My take on the whole princess thing? Let them like what they like. They're only little for so long. That sense of entitlement comes with being American. Ever listened to a car commercial? You can get the car you deserve! How is that anyone deserves a car?

Sarah Pearson said...

Or we could, you know, teach our children that privileged and entitled behaviour is not acceptable, whilst still letting their imaginations run riot.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Gina, I wonder if that's where this opinion piece started. How interested that there's a book about it.

Debra, I don't think it's bad at all. Unless taken to the extreme, which is the case with everything in life.

Janice, as a Canadian I think I will zip my lips on that one! haha. I do think we live in an entitlement society though.

Sarah, you are so right. Imagination is a valuable thing.

Stephanie Black said...

I agree, Julie--I don't think princess toys are the problem. It's not imagination or pink tutus that spoil children or create feelings of entitlement. If a girl enjoys pretending she's a princess, great! My daughter is not into princesses--she prefers animals--and that's great too.

I think in this country we have simultaneous tendencies to overthink and underthink issues, focusing on the wrong things as problematic.

Noble M Standing said...

I think there's a huge difference between letting a child have an "entitlement" mode of thinking, and letting/encouraging her to think she's a princess. Shouldn't we teach our children that they are special? We don't have to spoil them to do it.

Michelle J

Susan Law Corpany said...

Julie, I agree that the toy isn't the culprit. Just as you can refuse to buy toy guns for your son and so he'll shoot you with the paper towel roll. Before the Disney Princesses, we played "princess" using Mom's scarf and high heels and a good dose of imagination.

What is needed is hands-on parenting and discussion of various issues all along the way. I have noticed that Disney's Princesses are becoming less dependent and more feisty, which I think is a good thing. If you follow the Disney movies, they do tend to mirror the attitudes of the day.

Despite the Disney Princess popularity, I personally think our current and upcoming generations are much less inclined to be waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming than women my age who laregly were not taught to educate themselves or plan for anything but marriage and to be taken care of.