Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Princess Girly-Girl

Once upon a time, there was little girl.  Born in one city and raised in another, her parents fled the tall, dark towers of their urban island home for the hilly suburban plains of Snookie and Springsteen.  In this wonderland, they found a lovely home, complete with three bedrooms and three baths.  So much space, that the little girl danced and raced around from one empty room to the next.  The wood floors became a race track, a dance floor and a jungle.  Her imagination exploded as she explored rooms, recreating Curious George Dinosaur stories or Farmland tales, until one day, the little girl stumbled upon a heavy pink tome, trimmed in silver and gold.  On its cover, six Disney princesses dressed in regal finery stared off in the distance.  Emblazoned in thick golden letters, read the cherished words, "Princess Bedtime Stories," stories promising our young reader profound insight into the lives of these mysterious royal creatures.  

The young girl's mother had hidden the book in a closet filled with various uninteresting objects and toys that the little girl had outgrown.  The mother hid the book for one reason and one reason only, to put off the intrinsic power of the princesses over her little girl.  She liked that her little girl loved dinosaurs, race cars and playing in the dirt.  The mother imagined that reading the book would transform her loving daughter into a girly-girl and all her silly, messy traits would give way to her being demanding, spoiled and vain.  Perhaps, the mother gave too much power to the book.  Perhaps, princesses could be used to steer her young child towards good behavior like saying "please" and "thank you."  Perhaps princesses are just a fun stage when little girls can play pretend and wear pretty things.  Princesses don't wear yoga pants every day.  They are special.  Maybe their stories can inspire kindness, imagination and curiosity.  

The little girl hauled out the heavy book (which she would from here on refer to as the "the heavy princess book") and presented her treasure to her mom, urgently requesting her to "Read this."  Her mom saw the book, in horror and presented alternate titles, but the little girl was stubborn in her persistence and the mom sighed inwardly, and began to read the stories of Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Jasmine, Tianna and Belle.  The little girl was entranced by these princesses and could easily sit through the entire 300 pages.  The mommy, however could not.  

And the mommy saw, for that all the emotional damage she feared the princesses might bring for daughter, they also brought unequivocal joy.  The little girl played dress up and danced and talked daily about the cleverness of Ariel or the kindness of Cinderella.  She delighted in singing songs about them and prancing about in her non-Disney princess dress.  Above all else, the princesses made her daughter happy and if childhood is fleeting, shouldn't these small happinesses be embraced and not simply dismissed as a pervasive branch of Disney marketing (as her mother had also previously thought)?

And so, we've come to the end of our story.  The Little Girl has indeed become a girly-girl, wearing tutus or dresses everyday, sometimes with a tiara and wand or sometimes without.  She picks out her outfits daily and the mommy has given up arguing against wearing sparkly party shoes when its 20 degrees outside.  Her girly-girl is fiercely independent, but is also sweet, inquisitive and articulate.  Though the princesses occupy much of her daughter's interests, they certainly don't dominate it and the mommy learned her little girl will never quite fit into any pre-determined box (and not just because her tutu is too big).  Rather, she is unique and is perfectly content to wear a princess dress while lying on the floor, playing with her race cars and singing a Ramones song.  

And they all lived Happily Ever After.

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