This is National Princess Week. And even though I’m known for a very famous “I’m a princess and this is my tiara!” scene on The Big Bang Theory, it probably won’t surprise many of you to know that as a child, I wasn’t into being a princess. But I loved the idea of princesses. I drew them in sketch books. I loved fairy tales. Loved me some classic Disney.
My father never called me his princess. I never wore a T-shirt proclaiming I was a princess. I owned no Disney princess gowns (did they even exist in the 1970s?!), and while I was fascinated with English royalty as a teenager, it never felt like I had any personal connection to the notion of being a princess. The idea of elevating girls as princesses wasn’t a culture that I grew up in.
I remember being very fond of my dress-up plastic ‘heels’ and costume jewelry, but the only association I had with the word “princess” came when I was probably in middle school and boys started talking about JAPs (Jewish American Princesses, a derogatory term for Jewish girls or women who were spoiled, required a lot of gifts from their boyfriends or husbands, and hated sex – that was the stereotype). The Yiddish word for princess we used in my home was “piergalina,” and it implied a persnickety, unsatisfied person wanting more than they ought to.
As a scientist who likes to ruin fun things for people (ahem, here we go again), I want to go ahead and let y’all know that there is nothing genetically programmed into the female DNA that makes us gravitate towards being a princess, adoring princesses, or wanting to identify as a princess. Do some girls and women like that stuff? Sure. Is it inherent in being female? No.
And so, when I see all of these T-shirts and onesies and such proclaiming girls to be “Daddy’s Little Princess,” I wonder why it’s become so popular. I was raised to fear wealth, as it often brought corruption, so the notion of being a rich princess doesn’t appeal to me. I was also raised with a strong work ethic, so the idea of being a princess who is catered to also holds no appeal for me.
What appeals to me about princesses most is when their beauty and wealth is revealed to be less important than the content of their hearts and minds. “The Donkey Prince” shows a princess who falls in love with a man in the form of a donkey because he is a gifted musician and poet. Her love for who he really is breaks a curse that kept him imprisoned in a donkey skin. That princess rocks.
In “The Frog Prince,” a bratty, entitled princess has to cater to a frog’s needs as punishment for lying to him about what she would do for him if he rescued her gold ball from a well. She eventually learns the lesson that she should not judge a frog by his frog-cover.
There are many other princesses whom I love. But what I love about them is their ability to rise above their entitlement and to contradict everything I disdain: entitlement, greed, and isolationism.
I wonder what princess appeal is for modern moms and dads for their daughters. I wonder if it’s just a passing phase. I wonder if I’m again overthinking something (probably) but I also wonder if it’s in some way a reflection of a society increasingly enthralled with what’s outside rather than seeing ways to look deeper inside.
What do you think?
Grok With Us:
- What does princess culture mean to you?
- Who is your favorite princess and wny?
- Do you use “princess language” with the little girls in your life? Why or why not?