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slides: Mum’s the Word: How to Dethrone Your Princess

Friday, April 03, 2015


Like many three year-olds, my daughter is a fiend for Princesses. Photo Credit: Briauna Skye McKizzie

Like many three year-olds, my daughter is a fiend for Princesses. She likes to read about them, watch them, and of course, act like them. Although sometimes, I’m 120 percent sure she’s confusing the word “princess” for “tyrannical warlord.” 

She also has the delightful habit of pointing out the fact that I do not yet have a prince in my life.  And nothing is quite so humbling as being reminded of your terminal singleness by a two and half foot tall, selectively incontinent person. 

In addition to creating the concept that without a prince you are without a life, princess films continue to overemphasize both men and women’s outward appearances.

As a biracial child, too, my daughter has also begun feeling insecure about her hair's color and texture because…oh no…it’s not like Rapunzel’s!

I’m not saying that all princess narratives are bad. However, most parents do run into the problem of how to let their kids enjoy classic fairytales without inherently raising mildly misogynistic, racially biased, entitled little darlings.  

So how does one go about dethroning our little princes and princesses?

See Slideshow Below.


Related Slideshow: Mum’s the Word: How to Dethrone Your Princess

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1. Take Back the Throne.

First and foremost, the parents and adult role models need to take back the throne. Even if all of Target is watching you, do your best not to get your child a toy simply because she won’t stop crying for it. Crying doesn’t get you anything when you’re an adult, and it shouldn’t get you anything when you’re a child.

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2. Show them what counts.

Point out qualities in the fairytale characters that don’t have anything to do with their outward riches or ridiculously good-looking appearances.  Hilight Belle's self-sacrificing nature or the Beast's humility. You may even decide that, for now, certain fairytales aren't for your child just yet. That's fine. I didn't see Sleeping Beauty until I was a teenager. Guess what, I turned out semi-okay anyway. 

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3. Real life fairytales.

Substitute some of the traditional fairytales for historical “fairytales.” Some of my favorite picture books for little ones are the Audrey Hepburn biography, Just Being Audrey, by Margaret Cardillo and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell. If your kids are older, though, they may also enjoy the Dear America series. These are educational and entertaining chapter books that feature strong female characters relying more on their wit and grit than their ability to fall in love with a handsome prince and/or clean up the house of seven dirty men. 

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4. Be patient.

Take a minute and look down at your belly button. I know it’s weird, but do it anyway. You and I both know that you’ve done far weirder things.

Every time I start to get annoyed with my daughter’s behavior, which may or may not happen on a bi-hourly basis, my belly button reminds me that I, too, was once a vulnerable, slightly entitled, little person who needed someone else to teach me, nourish me, and be patient with me. So while it’s annoying when my daughter won't stop singing songs from Frozen or bursting into hysterics when I put her snack on a plate instead of a bowl, she won’t be this way for long. While they’re little, let’s make the most of our “jobs” as parents and role models. Continue to be patient and kind with your children, and I guarantee you that no matter how many Disney movies they watch...the kids will be all right.


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