My daughter is a Princess. Seriously, you would think she came straight from royalty. She's not so much a diva, but a true old fashioned princess at heart. She is feminine, prefers dresses and skirts, loves to adorn herself in (fake) jewels, tiaras, and is awfully particular about cleanliness and hairdos for a two year old. She calls daddy her prince, likes to have tea parties, and sleeps on silk and satin.
I'm a rather feminine woman myself, but I never really thought I would raise my daughter(s) to like princesses. In some ways I viewed princesses as weak, waiting around to be saved by a man, useless, materialistic, shallow, etc. I view myself as a very confident, strong headed, opinionated, educated woman and that's what I want(ed) for my own girls. Like everyone else, I had/have my insecurities but the older I get, the more I value myself. It seemed to me that being a princess would be the opposite of what I was/am.
Noelle's two and a half right now, and is starting to really make her own decisions and preferences. Right now all those decisions and preferences are princess related. As she started showing more stereotypical behavior, I expressed concern with Joey that maybe I had led her too far into the world of pink and that I didn't want her to become a "wimpy princess." I started thinking way too much about what other people were thinking, and worried that people were shaming me behind my back about creating a brainless beauty queen.
It was Joey that actually got my head back on straight and pointed out that Noelle goes through many phases. She used to love The Wiggles. No more. Then she was obsessed with Elmo. She could care less about him now. There was a time and place for Barney. No longer. There was a few months where she loved trucks. Nope. Trains. Gone. Tools. Forget it. This is the next phase, and if she enjoys it, we should too. One day she may not want to be our little princess anymore, so we should just enjoy it now while it lasts.
I also had to view things differently too...for example, why do we have to view princesses as weak? Or dumb? Or shallow? Instead of focusing on the negative associations people have of princesses, I started paying attention to the positive. For example, the last few months now, Noelle and I spend a lot of time
watching movies together because I'm
I point out that Snow White is kind, has a big heart, and likes to help others. Cinderella is a hard worker, cheerful and still a dreamer, even in her unfair circumstances. Ariel is adventurous, outspoken, and follows her dreams. Belle is smart, a bookworm, stands up to the town's bullies, and protects her father. Jasmine uses her authority (to save Aladdin) and is strong. As the movies get more current, each princess after that gets even better. Merida for example is not your traditional princess; she wants to marry for love, and breaks the rules. Tiana is very hard working and speaks up for herself. Anna's love for her sister is stronger than her love for a man (as it should be, lol.) I went from being skeptic about Disney Princesses, to loving them. I adore the Princesses now, as much as Noelle does and I have no problem with her liking them. If she wants to be a princess, that's fine by me...because in our house being a princess doesn't mean you are only beautiful and fancy...it means you are kind, generous, polite, and respectful.
Bottom line; My child, your child, any child, will go through their phases. Some last longer than others. Who knows, Noelle may love and be a princess forever. It's fine - whatever your child is into, as long as you point out the positive and don't concentrate on the negative. There will always be stereotypes and people judging. At the end of the day I praise my daughter on being smart, kind, and tough. Because, princesses can be those things too.
P.S Other ways I get around the princess stereotype:
I never say the prince is "saving" the princess. I always say that's he's coming to help her.
When Noelle dresses up in her princess gear, I try to always say she looks "fancy" instead of saying she looks "pretty," because she always is pretty - not just when she's dolled up.
I read her picture books about princesses that are untraditional.