My tween is done with the princess phase, but when she was in it, man was she IN IT. And truth be told, while she'd never admit it, I think she still has a soft spot for princesses. But a princess debate rages, this time pitting Disney against the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor appeared on Sesame Street telling Abby Cadabby that "princess" is not a career option and that "pretending to be a princess is fun, but it is definitely not a career." She proceeds to tell Abby what a career is and that options available to her include teacher, lawyer, doctor, engineer, and even a scientist. You can view Justice Sotomayor's talk with Abby here
“You can go to school and train to be a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer and even a scientist,” Sotomayor said. “I am a United States Supreme Court justice. I went to school and studied law and then became a judge.”
Even at the height of her princess obsession, my tween said that she wanted to be a "doctor/mommy/teacher." The bigger issue I had was explaining that she could be a mommy and have a career. The princess thing was secondary. And if she'd wanted to be a "doctor/princess/teacher," I would have had absolutely no problem with that.
On the other side, the Disney Channel has recently aired a commercial-length segment entitled "I Am a Princess" that bridges the little girl and tween divide and makes it clear that all girls, of all ages and races and interests, can be princesses. Watch it here
The commercial is a montage of video of girls playing and interacting with their families and peers. The girls are of an age range that I'd guess is about 6-12, with a few of the younger ones in princess gear, but most of them not. The voice over is a girl talking about what makes a princess.
I am a princess. I am brave sometimes. I am scared sometimes. Sometimes, I am brave even when I am scared. I believe in loyalty and trust. I believe loyalty is built on trust. I try to be kind. I try to be generous. I am kind even when others are not so generous.
I am a princess. I think standing up for myself is important. I think standing up for others is more important, but standing with others is most important.
I am a princess. I believe compassion makes me strong, kindness is power, and family is the tightest bond of all.
I have heard I am beautiful. I know I am strong.
I am a princess. Long may I reign.
Frankly, I'm fine with that definition of "princess." I'd love for all girls to be strong, brave, kind an generous. Why is that and a career mutually exclusive?
I really liked the Disney piece, and my tween and I watched the piece and talked about it. She said the line that stood out for her was, "I am brave even when I am scared." Maybe it's because it was early in the piece, but perhaps not. My tween said it is true that you need to be the bravest when you are the most scared. Very true, and something I believe that tween girls need to hear. There are times when adolescence and the situations that accompany it are scary.
I liked that the girls in the Disney ad were a variety of races doing a variety of activities, including archery, driving go karts, swimming and reading. They are not all stereotypical girl activities. It reinforces traits that I want my daughter to have. I want her to stand up for herself and others and be kind and loyal and generous.
You don't have to be a princess to be those things, of course. If I had a boy, I would want him to be those things as well. I know that there are princess haters out there. And yes, "princess" is not really a career option. I agree with Justice Sotomayor that girls should dream big about their careers.
That said, I went to law school, and while I prepared for a career, I knew my chance of becoming a Supreme Court Justice was only slightly better than my chances of becoming a princess. In that regard, I'm a fan of dreaming big no matter what as long as when you are an adult you are both self sufficient and kind to others.
What do you think - can Justice Sotomayor's viewpoint be reconciled with the Disney approach?