10 Lessons From A Birthday Party Princess [ILLUSTRATIONS]

"Real" fairy-tale princesses -- i.e., fantasy characters -- wear impossibly beautiful clothes, court classically handsome princes and live happily ever after. "Fake" fairy-tale princesses -- or performers who dress up as royalty -- wear normal clothes when they’re not on duty, use makeup to achieve picture-perfect complexions, and hope to collect a tip at the end of every gig.

All this and more is explained in a lengthy online forum thread where "entertainment princess" and graphic artist M. Alice LeGrow invites readers to become part of her world.

"There's a disturbing culture of Princess worship in America's little girls these days and even in older girls who love Disney princesses, because they're America's royalty," LeGrow writes. But, the actress is empathetic. "A Princess is a thing they all want to become some day. She's a grown up, she's beautiful, she wears fabulous glittery gowns and no doubt owns a pony. She lives in a big pretty castle, she never has to clean her room and she gets to eat cookies for dinner if she wants.”

We’ve culled more of the most illuminating lessons and quirky illustrations from the exchange below. Click over to the forum for more -- and keep an eye out for the book of art she's currently working on.

1. Princesses arrive in carriages, not cars -- so the act begins at dropoff.
“We park our cars down the street and out of sight and always approach/leave the house on foot,” LeGrow writes. “Distractions can and will be deployed, like princess smoke bombs, to avoid ruining the illusion of our ‘carriage’ that supposedly picks us up."

2. In Disney movies, life can be an effortless song -- and music also makes professional princesses happy.
"I try to... listen to lots of happy music [before a party] so I show up in the right temperament for the job. I have a CD of princess songs and, unfortunately, My Little Pony music. Their songs are just SO DAMN HAPPY without being too grating, they put me in the right frame of mind.”

3. While fantasy princesses are used to having things done for them (even Cinderella had little critter friends to help her out), being a birthday party princess is hard work.
“Parents expect you to get into it. ... Mostly they want to know that you are happy and sunny and have a routine set up to entertain the kids, not just show up and smile at people and do nothing.” Sparkles aside, “pretending to be a really flimsy damsel for an hour requires an ironic amount of muscle.”

4. Princess power disappears when you enter the birthday girl’s domain.
"We do not say NO to children, or ask or order them to do things, even in games," LeGrow writes, adding that she also can’t "ask for water, ask to use the bathroom or ask for tissues or things from the parents," according to her boss’s rules. ("Anyone who still has to pee after that and can't wait a whole hour is in the wrong line of business," she elaborates.)

5. Chivalry is not dead.
“Some little boys … get little kid crushes on the princesses. … They want to answer every question first and win every game in your honor. They pull your seat out for you to sit down and hand you your storybook. They want a picture with the princess," LeGrow explains -- also revealing that they "get mercilessly teased for it by their parents, who are apparently hateful bastards." Oof.
[Lessons continue below slideshow.]

Birthday Party Princess Art And Photos

6. The only thing princess-crazed little girls like as much as princess stuff is telling you about their princess stuff.
"In between the Greeting time and the Story time in any house party is what I call the Catalogue. Little girls will start to rattle off every item of princess merchandise they own in great detail, then move on to general Disney toys and movies, then recount every viewing of every princess movie. It never fails. Little boys seek to baffle princesses with weird questions or impress them with feats of parkour-esque agility. Little girls try to appease them with faithful consumerism."

7. It pays to fight fire with fire.
When kids ask unusual questions (e.g. "You wanna see my underwear, Rapunzel?"), “the best way to distract them is to ask a banal question in return, because … by the time they get to the answer, they usually forgot what the question was or have lost interest.”

8. Rapunzel wears the least restrictive dress.
Who’s the fairest of them all – or at least, the most pleasant princess to impersonate? Apparently, “they all have their ups and downs.” For example, Cinderella’s “story is easiest to manage” but she “has the most accessories”; even though “Rapunzel has flat shoes and a less restrictive dress that's SO much easier to move around and drive in, … I'm always stepping on the long wig if I bend over or sit.”

9. What makes this party princess truly happy is spreading joy to children of the 99% who buy into the dream 100%.
She’s not affiliated with Disney, and can’t use Disney copyrights, but she can still cater to the fantasies of petite princess acolytes. “We give magic to the little girls who will never see Disney World, because it's too far away and too far out of the parents' budget,” she writes. “We do what the parks can't do...we bring the magic to them. To lower class kids, to kids in hospitals, to kids with special needs who can't travel far. They deserve magic too. And we bring it to them” -- even if it means pumping gas with “a pair of opera gloves in our mouth to keep them clean” or “chang[ing] between gigs in rest stop bathrooms and put[ting our false eyelashes on, bleary-eyed, in the medicine cabinet mirror in the morning.”

10. Princessing is a recession-friendly job.
“Oddly enough, quite a lot of new princess businesses seem to be cropping up lately, due to people losing their jobs and wanting to start their own side businesses.”

Speaking of which... “Don't put yourself in the situation where you might incur the Princess Smiling Death Gaze.” I.e., Don’t forget to tip.

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