Raising a houseful of princesses comes naturally to me. I've raised three of them. They are smart, girl-power-super-strong-and-independent, sparkly sprites who love to dress in fluffy pink things when they are small and sometimes even when they grow up (where the sparkles miraculously turn into jewels). They also love boy stuff. But at the end of the day, if they had to pick one thing in their heart of hearts, it would be a princess. But the other day, it occurred to me...where are all the princes?
Disney has capitalized on and profited from the innate desire of most young girls to be princesses, and you can choose your perfect match. Snow White or Ariel? Belle or (my favorite) Mulan? There are princes in all those movies and stories, too. Heroic princes. Princes who love the princesses and stand side-by side with them to face any challenge. Princes who often can ride horses, fight to the death, waltz (!), and sing love songs. But if you go to Disney, there are no prince costume stores. No prince makeover salons. No princes you line up to get your picture taken with.
Even generic holiday costume catalogs have avoided the entire prince category. Boys can be superheroes or serial killers, pirates or zombies...but no one seems to be enabling little boys to be princes.
This prince deficit is troubling to me for a couple of reasons. The primary one being I don't want my little princesses to grow up and have to settle for a zombie. But there's an even more troubling reason. Being a princess isn't really just about dressing up; it's a way of being in the world--a way of kindness, helping others, responsibility, honor, and faith in the power of love. How are boys learning these important lessons?
Ironically, we have real princes in real life who are pretty cool and any small boy should look up to: Prince William and Harry play a mean polo, fight for their countries, undertake humanitarian missions to dangerous places, AND get the girls and the yacht vacations...all while demonstrating highly appealing smartass senses of humor. The only question is, can they waltz?
It could have to do with our conflicted feelings about royalty and monarchies. We are a democracy, after all. But even so, one of the good things about monarchy, when it works, is that the best leaders take the long view, since their power comes from and depends on succession. Of course, not every prince or princess is perfect--nor is every person, for that matter. But it does seem like the world could use a few more princes these days. I know a few princesses who will be looking for a prince. And I sure hope they find him.
Disney, are you listening?
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com