I know a princess, and so do you!
“I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses. All of us. Didn’t your father ever tell you that?”
The belief in the truth that all children are special, and that girls, in particular, are princesses, is a belief that has endured for ages, one that originates from “the father”, not from disney, not from royalty in far away lands, but from the respect fathers have for their own blood or kin especially their children.
What makes the story “A little princess” particularly poignant, is that the child in the story who has everything in the beginning, realizes that when all her riches are taken away, she is still a princess, and has value, because it has nothing to do with her physical appearance, possessions, or surroundings. Being a princess is who she is not only because of her respect for her own life, but because of her respect for the lives of the children and adults around her. We see that “princess behavior” many times throughout the movie, in her kind and generous treatment toward others.
Calling out children as “princesses” is a way of letting them know you are calling out favor for them, on their lives. Every child needs to hear that from someone in authority. Children believe what we tell them, and why would we want them to believe that they are ordinary, plain, unattractive or useless? Seeing the good in our children, the way most fathers do who call their little girls princesses, teaches them optimism when times are tough, and kindness when people are tough.
I recently read an article that said that Disney princesses being powerful and of different cultures, have helped alleviate the ‘toxic effects’ of princess behavior, and that little girls who believed they were princesses and played with dolls and liked to wear dresses as children, were not “poisoned” when they became adults, by the stereotypical gender treatment of princesses from Disney movies. Does Disney think that the idea of princesses originated with it’s movies? Does it think that what Disney teaches subjugates what parents have taught for years? Not in any kingdom that I know of, does Disney rule any little princesses.
Besides, I was not even aware that the belief that princess behavior is toxic is a common belief, or, for that matter, it is held by anyone I know as most little girls of all cultures, race and creed, enjoy pretending to wear a beautiful dress, or live in a castle, and marry a handsome prince…basically children like to imagine that they will have a happy life.
I believe this imagining a happy life is better than imagining a “non stereotypical happy life” where girls need to be superior in sports, or need to chop off their hair, or need to get a job at a corporation, or need to stop believing in God or good, or need to have an abortion in order to be successful at work or in life. Being a princess as a little girl is not toxic to being a productive human being, and in fact it is quite the contrary, but having an abortion is definitely “toxic” to babies is it not? The definition of “toxic” when applied to children who enjoy pretending to be princesses or princes, is laughable.
We are all princes and princesses when we see ourselves as children of the most high God. For those children who are unfortunate enough to not have a human father, we can role play and teach them the behavior that creates that “castle in the sky” for them so they can still imagine success and know it is attainable because it is innate, and is not attached to what we own but who we are. We can teach little boys about being a prince as well, because the prince defends his children’s right to the crown, gives them all the best that he has, and honors and marries their mother. The “stereotypical” roles of society have endured for good reason, and they are not “toxic” to girls, to boys or to the good that life has to offer, they support it.
Much of the torture and pain in society was caused by NON stereotypical princes who never learned that princely behavior required integrity, compassion and justice, and these “princes in name only” who wished to “bed” a different woman, would often eliminate their opposition as well as eliminate their wife. This is highlighted in the movie “A man for all seasons” and is about how the church leadership is called into question unless it validates a divorce.
But the church has always followed the bible with regards to the sanctimony of marriage and upheld it, and Christians know when church leadership is being cowardly or bowing to political pressure. In this movie “A man for all seasons”, Sir Thomas More was ultimately condemned for opposing the kings disposal of his wife. It is with great inspiration that I read about men of the past who uphold marriage, no matter what it costs them personally, because of the effect that it has on children and their ability to see themselves as a prince or a princess.
A girl who sees herself as a princess and holds herself in high esteem, because she believes she has value, will not allow anyone to take her honor, without a pledge or vow of marriage, and she will stand up for others who are treated poorly. The children that result from every marriage, will also have fathers, something that is very important for girls and boys, in helping them form a strong sense of self. Even girls or boys who did not learn this very young, can learn it later in life, because it is something taught by Christians, about how God is our father or king, and we are all his precious children.
In many cultures, not having a legitimate father is held against children and damages their place in society. Why would we want to “kick against the pricks” and encourage behavior in little ones (marketing that marriage is stereotypical, that women are not of value if they stay home and raise a family), behavior that ultimately leads to fatherless children and families dependent on government handouts?
When we know all the ways that dissolving family bonds leads to treating children with disdain or disrespect and then leads to dysfunctional and toxic adults, we can readily stand and support the POSITIVE role playing of all the little princesses and princes we know. We can help by giving them our attention, and our best ideas and our time, because every “little princess” we foster, does much to help ALL children, be on their way to “happily ever after”.