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Apr 28 2011

Don’t Let Your Daughters Watch The Royal Wedding

By at 9:47 am

The official photo of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

In all likelihood, I’ll be up early Friday, watching the royal wedding from my East Coast US residence with my daughter. That’s largely because my daughter’s manners, after 30 weeks of residence in my uterus, are still somewhat unpolished. So she hasn’t been born yet, and the odds are that she’ll have kicked me awake well in time for the sounding of the bells at Westminster Abbey.  In the event that I had an already-born daughter, however, I’d strongly prefer that she sleep in this Friday morning.

Is it really so important to get our bleary-eyed little American girls out of bed to show them that princesses are “real” and that “fairy tales can come true”? Not only would I say “no,” but I’ll go even further and say that it’s actually kind of creepy. Disney’s Princess industry is a golem of a marketing tool, aptly skewered by Peggy Orenstein‘s Cinderella Ate My Daughter, as well as others.  Yes, girls can be heroines too. Hooray. But Mulan – kick-butt Chinese warrior – is surely preferable to Cinderella – the girl who can’t find her way out of her own problems without a fairy-godmother bestowed dress, pair of shoes, and prince.  It’s important to note that Kate Middleton, whom I’m sure is a perfectly nice person, is going to have the world’s attention on Friday not because she’s cured cancer, but rather, because she’s done the best job of “marrying up” of anyone on the entire planet. And I’m sure she’ll look stunningly beautiful doing it.

So when you wake your daughter up early to watch the wedding, you’ve got to ask yourself: what are you celebrating, and what are you teaching your daughter to celebrate? Because it seems an awful lot like you are celebrating social stratification, and endorsing the belief that marriage is a best-bet ticket into a better life. As someone whose first marriage ticket was for a flight of fancy that was rerouted into tremendous turbulence, I’d have to say no to espousing that particular belief. No offense to Prince William, or my new husband, for that matter, but there is no Prince Charming. There’s no one guy who is going to be the magic bullet of your life, righting all wrongs and making everything beautiful and perfect and okay. And nurturing that fantasy is a one-way ticket to heartbreak and perpetual feelings of inadequacy. That’s not what I would want for my daughter.

The irony of celebrating a royal marriage as the height of fulfilled bliss is especially sharp in light of this particular young prince’s mother, Princess Diana, whose thousand magazine covers paved the way to her early death in a Paris underground tunnel in 1997. She died due to a car collision with fervent paparazzi in pursuit of her – paparazzi made fervent due to our collective, overly-prurient interest.  The lesson is almost too pointed to bear. Surely Friday will carry with it ample fawning reference to the beautiful dead princess, neglecting to mention that, at the end of the day, it was us who killed her.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m going to watch the royal wedding. I’m going to watch it because I do things I shouldn’t do all the time, like skipping out on going to the gym and eating too much ice cream instead. Yes, these things reap tremendous cognitive dissonance. But while I’m making snarky comments, I’m also going to take the time to think about why I’m watching and why we care so much, when we probably, if rationality were to come to the table, shouldn’t. So until your little princess can understand what irony means, I’d suggest that she take the morning off.

Feb 28 2011

Sigh. It’s True. Mommy Wants to be a Princess

By at 12:09 pm

Kate Middleton will soon become a princess when she marries Prince William.

The other day at dinner my not yet 2 ½-year-old daughter, Frieda,  happily announced that she and her 8-month-old sister, Rosie, “are princesses.”

And so it begins.

Being the over-educated, Subaru-driving, Whole-Foods-shopping Mama that I am, I was horrified.  What does this mean?   Who could she possibly have learned this from?  I immediately placed the blame on Theresa, that feisty 4-year-old who should have gone on to preschool last year, but is still spending her days loitering at daycare, corrupting my daughters.  But I put on my game face, and decided not to make an issue of it.  By the time I refocused my attention to the girls, they had moved on.  I was relieved.

I’m trying hard not to worry about the princessification of my daughters.  At least not yet.  At this point, Frieda doesn’t really know what a princess is; in her mind, the concept of “princess” is vaguely related to pink, fancy, and shiny, and therefore it is desirable.

The truth is that Frieda isn’t the only one with princesses on her mind these days.  I must confess that ever since the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced, my interest in the royal family has been piqued.  And even though I wasn’t so into the princess thing when I was younger (He-Man and She-Ra were more my style), I’ve got a new perspective on it these days.

Yes, you got it right.  I want to be a princess. Read the rest of this entry →

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