Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grandma gladly bows to princesses, for now

May 14, 2008

I am blessed with two preschool granddaughters, one who lives near me, and another who lives on the West Coast.

Both are smart, beautiful and independent in spirit. They are also proud princesses. It doesn't matter that they are descendants of people who have long lived in this country, people who long ago eschewed any association with royalty. They insist on their rightfully self-anointed positions as princesses of the realm. And, they are not alone in these visions. There's a whole generation of little princesses waiting to claim their kingdoms - a whole nation of would-be female royalty.

I suppose being a princess is the young female's answer to her brother's male assertions of supernatural strength as Batman, Superman or Spider Man. However, being a princess doesn't necessarily need any attributes of super strength or super speed. It mostly seems to require outward beauty, a girly wardrobe and an attitude of entitlement. The operational models seem to be the Disney princesses including Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle. Everywhere one looks, there are t-shirts, dresses, lamps, toys and a bewildering array of princess finery.

My oldest granddaughter, 3 1/2-year-old Lena, has a cardboard trunk of princess costumes including glass slippers, velveteen capes and sateen and net dresses. She has a large supply of princess figurines and accoutrements, which she arranges endlessly, talking the whole time about what they are doing. When she dresses up in tiara and her princess dress, she becomes the essence of imperial, ruling her kingdom with wisdom and consideration for all who inhabit it. Her pet pug dog, Lucy, becomes an attendant complete with velvet cape as the story of her castle in the woods unfolds. Lucy's puggy face evokes thoughts of gremlins rather than a lovely lady, but surely she is just a prince's kiss away from beautiful and her patience and loyalty earn her rights as the fair princess's lady-in-waiting.

Princess is a title that belongs to many young girls of this generation. Even my 21-month-old granddaughter, Charlotte, is not too young to think of herself as royalty. When her mother puts a ribbon in her hair, she struts around saying, "pitty pincess." She loves her lamp given to her by her other grandma. It features three Disney princesses who twirl about in a swirl of music when a button is pushed. Her wardrobe is replete with princess-adorned T-shirts and pink clothing in general, which shout "princess" to the world. She even has a magic scepter obtained with a fast food meal that features a Disney princess and lights up. Of course, she is delighted when her family gives her the homage she is due. Her father, big brother and mother all love to obey her commands as long as she isn't too outrageous. Sometimes, when her wish is not granted, she engages in a most unladylike tantrum. But, on the whole, she is a beneficent ruler giving most generously her smiles and hugs.

The princess phenomenon is not entirely new. Young girls have always yearned to be princesses with all that entails. I don't see any harm in it, as long as they eventually face reality. After all, it's a way for these youngsters to think of themselves in a strong position as long as they are not waiting for a handsome prince to come along and rescue them from life's responsibilities. My granddaughters don't seem too involved with the prince aspect. They think of themselves as sovereign rulers. Perhaps one of them will be a candidate for president of the United States someday.

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