A Quest for Respect and Dignity

"To be a princess is to be considered beautiful, to be pursued, and to see all your hopes and dreams come true. Now who wouldn't want to be a princess?" –Danae Dobson

We can all understand why little girls want to join this happy club. But to explore the phenomenon further, I asked a savvy young mom, Kristin Salladin, why her teenage girls have been heavily into the princess fantasy since they were very young. This is what she wrote:

Most girls love romance, and princesses fill that need better than anything else. Being a princess also honors girls and "girliness." It separates us from boys. My girls, Jenna and Julia, who are sixteen and seventeen, still like to dress up like the Disney princesses for Halloween. But they also love to read about Esther and Ruth in the Bible. Girls are drawn to stories of successful, beautiful girls who get the "right guy" or the handsome prince, and Disney has cashed in on this desire. Good timing on their part.

You rang the bell, Kristin! Almost every little girl shares her mother's love for romance, and there is always a romantic twist to the princess dream. It gives expression to their inner yearning to love and be loved and to live "happily ever after." That, and many other factors, is driving the Cinderella fantasy.

I asked another young woman, Riann Zuetel, how she feels about the princess idea. Her view was a little different. She saw within this movement a quest for respect and dignity. This is what she wrote:

I think wanting to be a princess is more than just feeling beautiful. Girls and women long to be treated like they are something special and worthwhile. Our culture often treats women like brainless sex objects who are put on this planet to satisfy men's desires, sometimes at the expense of their own sense of self-worth. Young girls grow up bombarded by these messages from the media, such as those seen and heard on the E! channel, MTV, BET, and pop radio stations, and in Cosmopolitan and teenybopper magazines. Young kids and especially teen girls are keenly aware of these negative images.

Their mothers, I believe, want their daughters to be treated like intelligent, respected, and equally valuable contributors to society. That is one of the reasons moms buy and dress their daughters in princess attire in hopes of changing their daughters' attitudes toward themselves and other women.

When a girl sees herself as a princess, she feels valued for who she is. Being beautiful is just the icing on the cake, so to speak. She is equal, worthwhile, and special. Most important, she has the confidence to wait for Prince Charming to come and not settle for second best or a loser, no matter how long it takes.

I agree with Riann's perspective too. The princess movement helps to counter some of the degrading stuff thrown at girls. As we have seen, the fashion and entertainment industries continue to market an endless array of highly sexualized products to preteens and even preschool youngsters. These kids are dragged into adolescent behavior long before they are ready to deal with it. Many mothers understand this and are looking for a safe haven for their daughters. Cinderella and her royal sisters help to provide it for them.

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

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