Thursday, October 27, 2011
Mothers of Three-Year-Old Girls: You Can Relax About the Princess Thing
Here's why: The princess thing is a phase. A blip. At three, my daughter wore a crappy purple Barbie princess dress over everything she owned. She adored the DVD Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, a hellhole of weird computer animation which made me want to gouge out my own eyeballs. Did I complain? No. It made my girl happy, as did my husband's willingness to pretend to be a prince asking her to dance at the royal ball. He would even tolerate her tiny rage when she felt he wasn't acting "princey" enough. We endured Disney Princesses on Ice--twice.
Our son spent two whole years wearing a Bob the Builder costume and hyperventilating over diggers and cranes. It never made us think he might grow up to be a construction worker, or a member of a Village People cover band, not that we'd mind if he did. So why get all freaked out just because Violet liked Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and wanted to dress up? It seemed like totally age-appropriate pretend play.
During this period, Peggy Orenstein wrote her anti-princess New York Times story, and later a book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter. She worried that all the princess mania would accelerate body-image issues for her daughter and other girls in her generation. While I am certainly sensitive to that, I really don't think putting on a sparkly dress and plastic crown in pre-school is the gateway drug to anorexia.
By age 5, Violet was done with princesses, which actually made me a little sad. "Princesses are for babies," she told me. She moved on to many other interests, no harm done.