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VCA010-DISNEY-PRINCESS-follI apologize for being absent the last week or so, having been caught in a storm of work, home and school assignments. I am now, however, caught in the act of procrastinating so I might as well make the best of it and share some observations on the subject of Princesses. 

I am being swarmed by Princesses. We have princesses on light switches, backpacks, socks and toothbrushes. Princess notepads, colouring books, coloured pencils, cut-out dolls and markers. I found Sleeping Beauty staring at me from the bathroom doorframe the other day, where a small hand stuck her, having peeled her away from friends Snow White, Belle, Jasmine and Cinderella who linger, until the next time, on the Disney Princess sticker sheet. 

Anyone who knows a five-year-old girl, or has been one recently understands that Princess is a real, actual profession. If you ask, you will find out that Princesses live with their friend Hannah Montana in Disneyland and you have to ride a plane to see them. They wear beautiful dresses of pink, yellow and baby blue, favouring bows, ribbons, roses and crowns as accessories. They do not have body hair, toenails or bad teeth. In fact, if you look closely, you will find that their teeth are actually one solid mass of grinning white, beneath perfectly shaped Princess lips.

The downside to all this is the fact that there is only one Prince. When Cinderella and her girlfriends go to the Ball, they have to wait for the Prince to choose which one he will dance with and then marry, and then spend the rest of his life with. Happily Ever After. 

As my mother’s daughter, raised in the empowerment age of the 1970s and 1980s, it is mildly horrifying to me that my own child thinks these things and more – doesn’t believe that Princesses have armpits.

Just yesterday, Lucy and I were playing with cut-out dolls (Cinderella and Belle) on our sunny garden deck, putting stickers shaped like jewels, bows and flowers on their massive magnetic ball gowns when talk turned to armpits. 

Me: Lucy, that dress goes just under Belle’s armpits, you might need to stick her fur stole on her shoulders in case it’s cold at the Ball.

Lucy: Mommy, Princesses don’t have armpits.

Me: Of course they do, sweetie. And I bet they have to shave them too.

Lucy: No Mommy, they don’t. They are Princesses.

Me: (Masking growing hysteria, attempting ‘teachable moment’) Lucy, Princesses are grown-up girls. They have armpits and vaginas and belly buttons and all the things that real women have. Just because they….

Lucy: (Closing eyes, covering ears with hands) NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOO!!

I played with Barbies. I loved their long hair and strange bodies and the fact that their feet never rested flat on the ground. I don’t think this scarred me. I read all about Princess too, and never thought it meant I needed a Prince to complete my own story. I have a busy full-time job and a husband who bakes bread and does the laundry, in addition to his busy life teaching university students how to think and write. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is definitely a prince, but not the kind who rides in on the white horse to rescue me from some evil fate. 

Lucy is surrounded by strong, capable women who have jobs, body hair and brush their teeth. Her teachers, her sisters and my friends and I are all as real as they come. I hope we are modeling a reality check to that Princess fantasy so brilliantly commercialized by the Disney Corporation. I think this will all turn out okay in the end. 

After all, while I couldn’t convince Lucy of the proper anatomy of a Princess, she was the one who took off their ball gowns and sent them off to their pretend jobs with packed lunches and pretend cellphones. For the record, Belle works full-time in a candy store and Cinderella is a unionized bus driver who carries her job manual in a sparkly pink purse.

July 2018
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