There are a lot of things about my daughter that most people wouldn’t categorize as “girly.” She is rough-and-tumble and has the scrapes and bruises to show for it. She collects cicada skins. Her favorite Star Wars characters are Stormtroopers. (She has favorite Star Wars characters.) She enjoys sword-fighting with her brother. She loves her black Batman cape. Still, there are a lot stereotypically girly things about my little girl.
My daughter’s favorite colors are pink and purple. She only wears skirts and dresses. She likes Hello Kitty and playing with her dollhouse. She loves unicorns and baking cookies.But there is one girly thing that wasn’t a factor for a long time: princesses.
Frozen was the first movie my daughter saw in the theater, but she wasn’t obsessed it with it. Sure she was a princess for Halloween, but she was the Princess in Black. Disney Princesses just weren’t on her radar.
Then my daughter went to preschool.
One day she was upset. Other girls had been teasing her. About what? About the fact that she hadn’t seen Beauty and the Beast. (My daughter said she asked the other girls if any of them had seen Star Wars. Shockingly, she seemed to be the only four-year-old girl who had.)
This discussion led to her expressing how left out she felt because she hadn’t seen the Disney Princess movies. This led to some severe mom guilt on my part for not giving her this clearly important piece of cultural literacy. That lead to several weekends of renting a bunch of Disney Princess movies.
My daughter still hasn’t completely gotten sucked into princess culture, but she definitely likes them. Sometimes when she is picking a shirt, book, or toy, she will go for the princess one. Every princess makes me feel like a failure as a feminist mom, but should it?
When we were back-to-school shopping this weekend my daughter chose a Disney Princess item. I tried to change her mind noting the cool Marvel Super Heroes and Star Wars options on the same shelf. She was unpersuaded. I let her get the princesses, but I felt a bit ashamed about it.
The Disney Princesses have become the symbols of everything from the over-gendering of toys to everyday sexism, but even with the occasional princess item I know that my daughter remains the same awesome little girl that she is when she’s playing Minecraft or looking for worms in the yard.
I know I shouldn’t beat myself up whenever my daughter chooses something princessy. I know that, but I still felt victorious when (without any manipulation on my part) she didn’t even consider any princess options for her lunch box. She wanted space cats. Space cats. I’m pretty sure that coolness offsets a few princesses now and then.
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