Imagine a young girl feeling so joyful and fulfilled with herself because she was told a story of a princess who overcame adversity to have a happy ending. This little girl’s future is ahead of her and she wants to make an impact on the world. She cannot wait to be able to live out her dreams and goals. She knows how to believe in herself and not give up no matter how hard life can get. The princess fairytale taught her to have an imagination and to stay positive. That little girl is me, a girl who loves math and science and wants to become a doctor. I am confident, self-sufficient and still believe in myself as I did when I was that young girl. Princess culture that can be a positive influence on how a girl views herself because it can empower her and inspire imagination.
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Originally princess fairytales, a type of folklore, were told to teach people, and specifically children the dangers of the world and were passed down orally from generation to generation until the written word existed and were written down. The princess archetype has existed for a couple of thousand years and has evolved throughout history to what is it today. Currently in the world there are 28 monarchies ruling in a variety of capacities (Public Radio International). Although, what can be primarily attributed to princess culture, aside from the real-life figures, is when a Disney executive saw young girls at a “Disney on Ice” show in 2000 reusing Halloween princess dresses and had an epiphany to take advantage on this consumer interest. Thus, the pink princess culture phenomenon was created and has exploded into a large multi-billion-dollar marketing industry. There are 12 officially Disney princesses who represent the Disney Princess brand. This includes films, television shows, clothing, household ware, toys, and a variety of other items, that are used to capture a girl’s attention.
A young girl can become empowered by expressing herself as a princess as well as form her voice and identity. A mother who supports her daughter for loving princess culture, Crystal Liechty, questioned, “So what’s so offensive about this? We don’t want our daughters learning that if you work hard and are good and sweet, even in the face of difficult circumstances, you’ll find happiness?” (468). The author wants her daughter to grow up and know how to treat and be treated by others. From my own personal experience as a young girl, learning to balance the world of being a “pretty pretty princess” with the real world was what guided me through any difficult times. I recall not being the girl waiting for her prince charming to save her, as a matter a fact, I have to thank my parents for helping me not focus on that aspect of being a princess. A girl can feel even more empowered in the age of inclusive Disney princesses as a response to changing social standards. The most recent Disney films, The Princess and the Frog, Brave and Frozen feature strong central female characters who are not like the previous Disney princesses. Also, the characters from each movie are shown in roles of being an entrepreneur, participating in a skilled sport and showing true love for a sister rather than a man. This can be even more enlightening to a young girl who is idealistic and holds the world to be hers for the taking.
On the contrary some would say that princess culture is detrimental to young girls because it can lead them to become entitled. The concern comes primarily from parents who do not want to spoil their daughter with unrealistic expectations. As eloquently stated by Calah Alexander, “… more subtle and far more sinister is the fact that she will consider herself more important not through any virtue that she possesses, but simply by the very fact of her existence” (466). The author points out a logical argument against princess culture because if a girl is to think that everything she does is special and magical without ever learning any values or morals along with this praise, then it may lead her to entitled tendencies. That is not to say a girl cannot have self-esteem and value herself, but it should be based on character and actions she does. More specifically by being respectful of others’ opinions and feelings. In the same article written by Calah Alexander, she even points this out herself, “If she truly wants to become Somebody, to distinguish herself from the millions upon millions of other souls in the world, then she needs to work hard for it, and she needs to choose work that is worth doing for its own sake, She has no innate gift that makes her more, or better, and the sooner she realizes that, the better person she will become” (467). Furthermore, agreeing with Alexander that a girl should be taught to value herself for her abilities is sensible but, it should be noted that not allowing a girl to live a princess fantasy if she wanted to would rid her of a chance to give her happiness or imagination. This would deny her the joy of being enamored by the storyline and music of movies, playing dress up and singing aloud, and creating childhood memories that would last her a lifetime.
As a final point, princess culture can help a girl become a queen ready to set and achieve her goals. Princesses have been misinterpreted for being poor role models for a girl to look up to have been looking at it from a negative perspective. Once again picture being the little girl who felt so inspired by the magic of being a princess. These girls exist and I am one of them as proof.
- Alexander, Calah. “The Dangers of the Princess Culture.” Elements of Argument, edited by Annette T. Rottenberg and Donna Haisty Winchell, Bedford/St. Martins, 2018, pp. 464-467.
- Liechty, Crystal. “In Defense of Princess Culture.” Elements of Argument, edited by Annette T. Rottenberg and Donna Haisty Winchell, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018, pp. 467-469
- Public Radio International. “There Are 28 Other Monarchies in the World.” 18 May 2018, www.pri.org/stories/2018-05-18/there-are-28-other-monarchies-world.