Princesses and pink dresses won't ruin your daughter

Feb 23, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. ET
Image: Image Source/Getty Images

Raising feminist daughters does not mean raising tomboys. Why do people care if I let my daughter wear pink every day or that she looks up to Elsa? If you think that means she's passive and weak, that's on you, not her.

I am done with princess shaming.

Before you try to explain to me how princess culture is harmful to my daughters, consider for a second that we live in the same world and I have the same internet as you. I've read it all. Of course princess culture can be harmful when taken literally and not discussed. But let's give parents the benefit of the doubt here.

My 6-year-old daughter's obsession with Rapunzel started basically from birth. At the age of 3, she used her own dollar to buy herself a purple headband crown — don't call it a tiara, she's not having that — and wore it every single day until she started kindergarten last fall. A few weeks before school started, she pulled out a plain headband the same color as her beloved crown. "This will be my invisible crown," she said. "The teacher won't even know I'm wearing it!"

I think a lot of people see a little girl in a crown and floofy dress at the grocery store and think they've got her all figured out: Probably passive, likely spoiled, set up for a life of making men miserable with her impossible expectations of princely behavior. (Or so one million articles on the internet want to tell me.)


This girl of mine is an unapologetic 6-year-old feminist. For starters, she insists she never wants to get married. "I want to live by myself," she said recently. "With a lot of cats." Girl is not looking to be rescued.

When we watched The LEGO Movie, she balled her tiny fists up in rage, wanting to know why Wyldstyle wasn't the Special after all. "Why was it that boy? He couldn't even do anything. And then she liked him?" Have you watched this movie, guys? You think this is female empowerment? I'll take Anna punching Hans right in the face any day over Batman bequeathing Wyldstyle to whatshisface because he's the better man. Literally. Like she's an actual trophy.

When my daughter learned there has never been a woman president, the tiny fists of rage returned, and she vowed — in her frilly pink bed with Frozen sheets — that one day she would be president, and she would make sure everyone treated everyone kindly.

I don't disagree that princess movies often devalue women, but have you checked out the alternatives? Superhero culture doesn't exactly celebrate women for their strength. Instead of tossing all the princesses out in the trash, let's point out what is problematic to our daughters and keep pushing for stronger princesses. For more Meridas and Mulans. More Tianas who work two jobs to reach their goals. Princesses are pretty badass when you stop and take a look past the dress.

Stop telling girls (and women) that to be taken seriously, they need to push down their identity and be more like guys. That's not actually helping girls, nor is it helping boys. Condemning princess culture isn't empowering girls — it's shaming them. And girls get enough shame just for being born without penises. Let it go.

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