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It’s About Time . . .

Let’s teach our girls that it’s okay to be cute & glamorous. But as you look fabulous, get out there and be amazing! Don’t just wait to be saved by some prince . . .

We have no objections against bling bling earrings. Gowns? Fabulous. Fancy diamond necklaces and tiaras? Absolutely magnificent. As mothers and fathers, we realize that these are the things that make little girls giddy.

But what happens when these wonderful items of beauty and prestige become more than simple objects of fancy? What happens when they assume more meaning in life, as in an eight-year-old daughter saying to her dad with dreamy eyes, “I want to be a princess when I grow up so I can wear fancy outfits and shiny diamonds! And so I can marry a handsome and rich prince!”

Unfortunately, this is the culture we have created in homes across our country and the world. The current princess paradigm espouses a life of glamour and riches for would-be princesses, who are rewarded for their porcelain and flawless beauty with a marriage to a strapping royal heir and a life of leisure. Although this is slowly changing (princess characters in recent big studio movies are becoming more empowered), princess culture still for the most part is about placing beauty above brains.

The antidote to this situation, however, is not militant counterculture for elementary school girls. We don’t need to eschew all things that are beautiful or glamorous. To the contrary, we will break down the negative nature of the current princess paradigm by simultaneously embracing what is cute and emphasizing positive and empowering elements.

Moreover, we need to rethink how princesses are role models. Boys have heroes who leap tall buildings, fight evil, and save the world from destruction. What do girls have? Role models who fall asleep after eating apples and are only saved by a prince’s kiss. We need to flip the princess paradigm on it’s head and let girls know that princesses can be saviors too, while simultaneously creating princess role models that inspire girls to greater heights.

Also, who says a princess needs to be “royalty” per se? Let’s anoint princess status based on merit and accomplishment instead of birthright and marital connections. Sure, marrying the Prince of Wales can make a girl a princess. But let’s also say that starting a school for girls in Africa makes a woman a princess. Or becoming a physician and helping the underprivileged with healthcare makes a woman a princess. Or how about balancing a career and motherhood makes a woman a princess!

We are at a wonderful crossroads where girls have more opportunities than ever before. This indeed is a time to embrace both sides and develop a new princess paradigm that is at once delightfully pretty and fiercely freethinking. Let’s not only choose adorable outfits over barren aesthetics, but let’s also choose examples of empowerment over traditional princess role models.

Grab a tiara. Grab some fancy jewelry. Grab a pair of sparkly shoes. And then use your sparkle to shatter the existing princess paradigm! We need to reinvent the way our culture embraces and balances beauty and strength. When we do so, we’ll contribute to the building up of the next generation of strong girls and women.