I have two beautiful daughters who have long blond hair. As a result of this they are labelled, frequently. They are called ‘Princess’ all the time. Especially youngest who is probably called princess at least ten times a week. Granted this might be because sometimes she chooses to wear a pink princess dress but she certainly doesn’t do this because she wants to be a princess, she just likes dressing up. She also likes to dress up as a pirate too but she doesn’t get called pirate.
I guess for me I see the term princess as offensive and sexist because really what is a princess? If we look beyond the lovely clothes, the tiaras what is there actually there? Nothing. In my eyes the term princess represents inequality, it is a reminder of the very patriarchal society that we still live in. My daughters at the very tender ages of three and six are already defined by their genders. By being a princess they are expected to be passive and look pretty.
Yes, my two might be pretty but I can proudly say that they are not passive.
In fact oldest was asked in a shop once, ” what do you want to be when you are older? A Princess?” She replied with an outraged “No, I do not, I want to be a wolf” at which point she then started to howl for good measure. Youngest whilst at her music class, wearing a tiara was instructed to fly like a “fairy” while the boys were flying like Spiderman or Batman. Youngest not happy at the suggestion shouted “no, I’m going to fly like Batman” and so we had a tiara wearing Batman happily flying at speed round the room. We were once in a shoe shop and youngest had chosen a lovely pair of blue shoes with planes on them. I was aghast when the shop assistant told her that she couldn’t have them because they were boy’s shoes. If that is what youngest wants to wear then that is what she shall wear but the damage was done. Oldest on hearing that backed the shop assistant up by saying “yes, you should be trying on these pretty pink trainers”. Oldest was now gender stereotyping too. I worry about my two daughters becoming brainwashed by societies norms. Labels are very damaging and we need to think carefully about the words we use when around impressionable young minds.
I realise that I am the one with the issue with the term princess. That when my daughters are called princess it is because that person sees it as a positive term of endearment. They say it because they are pretty. But actually I don’t want my girls to grow up in a world where they are purely judged on their looks. I want them to grow up in a world where they can believe that they can achieve anything. A princess as a role model doesn’t inspire that belief. Look at Kate Middleton. Ok, technically I realise that she is a Duchess but we and the rest of the world regard her as Princess. She has done so much good work but when does she make the headlines? When she has changed her hairstyle. Her cutting a few inches of her hair is considered more newsworthy than any of the actual work she does. The impression we get from the press is that her function in life is to look pretty and to produce babies.
My girls will be growing up in a society where there are still gender stereotypes deeply embedded so I don’t want to add to that by labelling them Princess. So whilst I am happy for them to play dress up in princess clothes I won’t be buying them clothes with the label princess on. I want them to break free from labels, I won’t be putting them in a box. I want them to believe that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. I instill in my daughters the belief that they can be independent and that they can be a leader. As a result my oldest daughter is happy to play dinosaurs as well as playing babies. She is happy to play with the girls as well as the boys. Where as youngest likes to dress up as a princess as well as Spiderman, she loves her cars but also her teddies and she is happy to play tea parties but also likes leaping off the settee whilst karate chopping everything in sight. I want my daughters to live their lives free from gender based prejudices. I want them to grow up in a society where they are viewed as an equal.
I want them to realise that they hold the key to their future and that they should be fearless in their pursuit of it.