Pretty, Pretty Princess


“Mommy, I a PWINCESS!”

I hear these words at least once a day. My oldest daughter is 100%, all-in, through and through, a girlie-girl.

Pink and purple.

Baby dolls.


And princesses. Everyone is a princess. She’s a princess. I’m a princess. Her baby sister is a princess. Sometimes even Daddy is a princess. Every book is about princesses. There are poofy dresses and glittery high heels and tiaras everywhere.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “How sweet! I would love to dress a little girl up in ribbons and curls.”

But for me, this is really hard and not very enjoyable.


I was never into Barbies or baby dolls or dresses or glitter. I was gladly wearing my brother’s hand-me-downs and collecting rocks and reading and playing outside. I was about as opposite from my daughter as possible.

How do I relate to an almost 3-year-old who wants to have tea parties and play with baby dolls and read about princesses?

We were recently reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This book is about a heroine who was kind and sweet, but more important than that, she was quite beautiful. So beautiful that her evil step-mother wanted her dead. So beautiful that it outweighed every other virtue. So beautiful that a random man (ahem, prince) saw her days-old corpse, instantly fell in love, and sexually assaulted it. I mean, kissed her dead, decaying mouth. (Okay, maybe the book didn’t use those adjectives, but come on.) Then she magically wakes up, and the prince carries her off on his horse into the sunset, to a life full of happiness and probably more beauty. Because she was so beautiful. The most beautiful. And she needed to be rescued. So thank goodness she was so pretty.

These are the princesses I grew up with. Beautiful, helpless women who need saved, who are incapable of solving their own problems, and who wistfully and dramatically wait for someone to show up to rescue them.

I’m reading this book to her, my sweet “pwincess” daughter, and my skin is crawling. These are not the ideals I’m trying to raise her with. I don’t want to give her mixed messages. “Be strong and independent, but let’s read about princesses who are just so beautiful and one-dimensional.” Her physical appearance is not what she should put the most emphasis on, and she certainly shouldn’t rely on anyone else to solve her problems for her.

But the girl loves princesses.

I’m so grateful that my daughter was born in 2017, in the wake of the Me Too movement, in a time when it’s okay to be a strong woman and to celebrate feminism. It certainly makes my job easier. If she was born in the 1930s, when our dear Snow White made her appearance on the big screen, my job would be infinitely harder. Even if she was born in the 1980s with me, raising her to be strong when everyone else is telling her to be pretty and polite and helpless would be almost impossible.

Disney is getting it together. No more Cinderellas or Auroras or Snow Whites. Instead, they’re pumping out Moanas and Elsas and Annas and Meridas and Reys. Keep ’em coming, please. Because these modern “pwincesses”, whom my daughter also adores, are strong and driven and competent and self-loving and, most importantly, not focused on anyone else saving them. And truthfully? She loves them even more than the princesses I was raised with because they have these awesome special powers and fight and voyage and use lightsabers and are so strong. Cinderella is boring, but Elsa shoots snow out of her fingers and loves her sister. Aurora pretty much snoozes prettily through her entire story, but Rey is out leading the resistance and saving the universe and being brave.

So I’m learning to embrace the princesses, glitter, pink and purple, and dresses. I work every day to teach my daughter things, but this time, she’s teaching me that being a “pwincess” doesn’t have to mean being helpless and weak and beautiful. Maybe it used to, but now it means being a kick-butt warrior who also just happens to wear really, really, really pretty dresses.


  1. Love the message behind this. My daughter is the same and I love that Disney is now going in a new direction.

    • Me too. It’s important to not limit our girls; to show them that they can love being girlie while also being confident and powerful!

  2. This is such a phenomenal piece. My daughter is only 10 months old, but I am already trying to instill her values of strength, power, and resilience instead of “relying on a man.” I love a good Disney story, but I also love supporting women! If Ana chooses to wear tutus for days on end, so be it. If she chooses to pull off any bow I put on her head, that’s fine too.

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