“I Don’t Want To Be A Princess” reminds girls they have career options other than royalty
Let’s get one thing straight — if your daughter says she wants to be a princess, that’s totally cool. Buy her the dresses, help do her hair and make-up, play pretend games — the whole nine yards. Because if that’s her true interest, support it. It only becomes a problem when being a princess is presented as one of the only options. And that’s why it’s crucial our daughters know — they can be plenty of things other than a princess.
As mom Beckie Thompson explains to The Huffington Post, “A princess is not really a career to which one can aspire. Rather, it’s an adjective we throw at girls. I’d rather throw different adjectives at them.” To that end, Thompson has developed a website called I Don’t Want To Be A Princess that features stories from strong women in several career fields and sells t-shirts sporting many adjectives not having to do with royalty.
The idea was born out of an experience at Disney World in 2011 when her then 4-year-old daughter Keira got a little tired of the park staff calling her a princess all day saying, “Mommy, this is so annoying. I don’t want to be a princess. I want to be a pilot.” The site launched on April 11.
Thompson emphasizes that she has no hate for princesses, but felt something was lacking for little girls who might not be into it. “By no means am I criticizing girls who want to be princesses. Rather, as the mom of a girl who didn’t want to be a princess, I found few to no alternatives existed. I want to give all girls the confidence to be who they want to be.”
Any mom who’s shopped for a little girl’s Halloween costume knows that what Thompson says is true — princesses are big business and even the non-princess career costumes thrown at girls are typically feminized and pretty. Even little girl cop costumes have skirts. We go to great lengths as a society to remind little girls to be adorable, and the princess thing is just one more layer of that.
Along with t-shirts showcasing adjectives other than “princess,” Thompson’s website offers information for young girls about legendary women such as Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie and Jane Goodall. It also features stories about “real” girls, like Gianna Ferreri, the only girl on her school’s football team.
The t-shirts the site sells are emblazoned with words like “amazing,” “confident,” “creative” and “strong.” All words any parent would want associated with their daughter, and words that likely describe so many little girls today. Unfortunately, princess culture pervades with the wildly popular Disney princesses and so many adults assuming that’s what all girls aspire to.
Well, guess what? It isn’t.
As mentioned above, it’s totally OK if being a princess is a little girl’s goal. As life goes on, she’ll come to learn that it’s not a realistic career plan and she’ll find something else to do. It’s when complete strangers repeatedly call a little girl “princess” as a default that it becomes limiting.
I have a daughter who certainly appreciates princesses and that brand of femininity, but finds herself drawn to sports and science too. We’ve always encouraged those interests and supported the princess whims as well, but as she approaches her tween years, it’s clear that she’s more the sports and science type.
She’s been adamant since preschool that she wants to be a pediatrician, and we’re thrilled. That “amazing” shirt would definitely be a good fit for her. But if she wanted to wear ballgowns all over the house? That’s fine too.
The point, she’s always had choices. And she always will.