Yes, like many of you, I’ve learned to hate the tide of pink cutesiness that seems destined to overwhelm our daughters. “Come,” the Marketing Monster drawls seductively, “Dress your little darling in this frothy rose creation. Won’t she look adorable?” And then, slightly more threateningly, “You won’t have a choice, because I decree you CAN’T BUY girls’ clothes in any other colour!”
I don’t have daughters, but I can see how it would drive you demented. Many of my friends, independent, cultured, creative women, are helpless in the irresistible tide of pink princessiness. Because it doesn’t matter what you say, what gorgeous alternatives you eventually manage to find in red or blue or purple, when she gets to nursery and her friends have bubblegum pink trainers that light up, you will lose the battle. And when her fourth birthday rolls around, she will beg and plead and weep for a Snow White, or Cinderella or Ariel outfit, and you will be forced to endure a Disney Princess party. With a castle cake. And a wand that lights up. Sorry.
Yes, we can rage and scream and argue. We can point out that the modern equivalent of a Disney princess waiting in a tower to be rescued is a WAG, and that we want more for our daughters than that. Or we can choose to look at it another way, and beat the Marketing Monster at his own game.
Firstly, it’s not the fault of the colour pink. It’s not my favourite hue either, but a colour does not a gender enslave. In fact, in Victorian times, boys were dressed in pink as it was considered a more regal colour, and girls were dressed in blue, to look more demure. It’s a modern advertising construct, not an irretrievable and tragic life choice. Pink will not make your daughter silly, won’t make her want to stay home baking with her plastic cookware or nursing dolls, and won’t make her shun an education. It’s just a colour, so get over it. Let her wear it if she wants to. I guarantee she won’t be seen dead in it when she’s 15 and going through her Death Metal/Emily Dickinson phase.
Secondly, let’s talk about being a princess. I think we’ve all got caught up in the negative implications of princessdom: the idea that princesses are pretty, passive creatures waiting for a prince on a white horse. That they’re spoiled and need looking after. What we forget is that a Princess is a young woman preparing to become a queen. And I’m thinking Cleopatra. Elizabeth I. Boudica.
Put aside your misgivings about hereditary monarchy, modern royals or male primogeniture. If our daughters aren’t just Disney-style princesses, they can be any kind of princess they like. They can claim all the best bits of being royal. After all, a princess is the heir to a great birthright.
So here’s my charter for modern princesses, for both little and grown up girls.
- A princess knows that one day, all this will be hers
- A princess knows that with great power, comes great responsibility, so she treats all people with respect and kindness
- A princess knows that future rulers have to be wise, so she works hard at her studies and has an open and enquiring mind
- A princess knows that people look up to her, so she dresses appropriately, and with the class and style that befits her station, and she is ALWAYS polite
- A princess listens to advice, but knows she is queen of her own destiny, so she makes her own decisions and takes responsibility for them
- A princess is responsible for the wealth of the kingdom, so she earns her own money and knows how to take care of it
- A princess knows she is one in a million, so she doesn’t squander her energy, emotion or her body on people who are not worthy of that great gift. As a result, anyone who speaks ill of or to the princess or treats her badly will be banished from the kingdom, never to return
- A princess is head of the armed forces, and she knows if someone gives her grief, she can bring out the big guns and whip some ass