Resisting the Urge to Picket the Princess Castle


I wish it wasn’t so often that I want to quote something beautiful, but can only attribute it to some striking voice in the blogosphere that I read somewhere at some point. But now is one of those times.

Somewhere at some point in the vastness of the internet, I read the gut-checking words of a mother talking about her fears. She threw a question out into the universe and it lodged itself in my soul—”How do I teach my daughter to question without forcing my questions upon her?” And this, I believe, is the big hairy question you take on when a feminist becomes a parent. How do you teach your child to think critically about the world without attempting to create a minion? Minions sound really nice, to be perfectly honest, cute little feminist minions, but they’re a bit self-defeating. I’ve never met a minion who had a mind of its own, which is sort of the whole point of minions and the whole antithesis of feminism.

It’s also the question I’m mulling over tonight as I think about my very verbal two-year-old daughter’s current obsession with “butiful dresses” and all things princess. After one viewing of one princess movie—ONE—she was hooked and now Elsa is on speed dial and Anna is the topic of her constant conversation. There are good things modeled in princess movies. I’m not here to hate on them categorically. I’m just here to wonder why those aren’t the things she seems gravitate to, and mostly, to tremble in fear at the swift consuming power of Disney over my child.

“I be butiful,” Scout said as she bounced into my bedroom this morning, wearing the dress she’d insisted Trent put on her.

“Yes, you are beautiful,” I said, “but being beautiful doesn’t really matter much. It’s more important to be smart and kind.”

And later, digging through my makeup bag, she repeated a version of what I told her. Dabbing a brush on her cheeks—”I look butiful and smart.”

“Well yes, little one, but it’s not about looking smart,” I thought. But I didn’t say anything.

I didn’t say anything, because I don’t know what I’m doing here. And I’m not sure how to navigate all this. And as much as I want to prevent my daughter from falling victim to lies about ideal beauty standards and warped priorities and wacko gender stereotypes, a feminist robo-child who repeats what I say, but doesn’t internalize it for herself, well … that’s no better.

So for now, I trust in my trying. I’ll fill her world with stories of girls and women, real and imagined, who are smart and kind and brave and beautiful, the kind of beautiful that matters. And I won’t picket the princess castle, because making princesses too forbidden only enhances their power. I’ll also trust in my daughter. She’ll figure things out. Because wow, she is smart. And strong. And if you’d seen her point that stern little finger between your eyes—”YOU be da prince,” she commands—well, you wouldn’t argue with that.

1 comment :

  • GB

    II think you your heritage is going to help you out a lot on that. Y you have some strong independent women on both sides of your family and I’m sure it’s in scouts geges

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