Too Many Princesses

When I was a little girl, my mother was quite creative when it came to Halloween costumes. We lived below the poverty level with a big family (my Dad was a school teacher and we had ten children in the family-- just to clarify). One year she bought a skein of bright red yarn and I went as Raggedy-Ann and my brother was "Red-beard" the pirate. Very economical and fun for both of us. He was swash-buckling through the neighborhood and I was dragging along behind trying to keep my red yarn wig from slipping off my head.

So, one year I wanted to be Cinderella. I pictured myself in a beautiful gown, glass slippers and sparkling tiara. My mother considered that for awhile and then came up with a "better" idea. I could go as Cinderella before the ball. Cinderella the scullery maid. The peasant. The unwanted stepsister. This was a great idea she explained because that was when Cinderella sang and all the little birds came in her window. Cinderella was happy in her rags. And it turns out rags are cheaper than beautiful ballgowns. So I found myself persuaded by her logic. The school I went to at that time had a Halloween parade after lunch on Halloween, so I got the bonus of wearing my costume more than just for trick-or-treating! My mother sewed cute patches on one of my old dresses (it was the sixties-- it was already a peasant dress). Then she cut out a triangle of fabric and tied it around my head. We had a little play broom and my transformation was complete. I wore it to school that Halloween day and spent the day dragging my broom around and explaining who I was. "What are you supposed to be?" "I'm Cinderella" "Cinderella?" "Yes, Cinderella before the ball-- you know, when she was cleaning and getting yelled at by her wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters!" "Oh..." I was a resiliant child, this didn't traumatize me. I simply felt like a crusader for the under-appreciated. The hard-working Cinderella was more to be admired than the mysterious "happily-ever-after" Cinderella.

I have noticed lately that the whole princess thing has gotten completely out of control. Everywhere I turn there are little girls in tiaras. Disney is making a fortune out of the whole princess phenomenon! At our church Halloween party last fall, there were no less than 30 little girls dressed as various princesses. From Cinderella (in the ballgown--not the rags; her mother must be a spend-thrift!) to Belle to Snow White-- even Star Wars was represented: Princess Leia was there in her cinnamon bun hair. Halloween is one thing, but I see these little princesses everywhere I go all year 'round. At the grocery store I see Sleeping Beauty crying in the cookie aisle begging for Oreos. At the playground, Cinderella is running around in a ballgown and boa, purple feathers floating away behind her. We happened to arrive at the library right before pre-school storytime: it was a princess palooza! These are not special occasion or once in awhile princesses. They are living the dream every day, all day.

So, what happens when all of these self-proclaimed "princesses" grow up and find out they aren't really royalty? Worse, what happens when we have a whole generation of little girls who grow up with a sense of princess entitlement? Frightening isn't it? Take my advice, put away the princess dresses. Dress them in rags and put a broom in their hands. They might as well learn early on that the real joys in life are going to require work.


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