By Tracee Sioux
No princesses, Bratz or Barbie gifts, read the invitation for my daughters 5th birthday party this year. The week before we had gone to the used bookstore and sold all Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid and Barbie books. She was allowed to pick other, healthier, books to replace them.
I was bracing myself for a big crying fit when I told her we were banning princesses and Barbie. We had never allowed Bratz because obviously they look like hoochies and they are brats and I certainly dont want her immolating that kind of garbage. But, really it was all very easy and calm and I think she even enjoyed the extra attention given to her girlness and her ideas of girlness.
Were going to the used bookstore, I told her one morning. Why dont you gather up all your princess and Barbi books so we can sell them and get other books.
Why cant I keep my princess books Mommy? she asked.
Because all those princesses just sit around waiting for a man, the prince to come save them, I told her. And you do not need saving.
You can wake yourself up, you dont need some guy to show up and kiss you to wake yourself from a nightmare, I said emphatically.
This seemed to make sense to her, as I had already taught her how to wake herself up from a nightmare.
Well, Belle doesnt need a guy to wake her up, she said.
Belle gets kidnapped and then she turns the beast into a prince with her love, I explained. You dont fall in love with someone who kidnaps or traps you, thats called Stockholm Syndrome, and I guarantee that if you marry a beast someday, he will stay a beast and never, ever turn into a prince.
Ariel doesnt wait for someone to wake her up, she said thoughtfully.
Worse, I told her. Ariel gives up her gift of voice and her entire family for the first man she ever sees!
You should never give up your gifts to get a man, especially not your voice or your ability to say what you want, and you should never let a man isolate you from your family and you not marry the first man who likes you, you should date a few more to find out what you want, I responded.
Cinderella could have rescued herself from her stepmother if she had got good grades and went to college to be a lawyer or a doctor, then she wouldnt have had to deal with her step mother or her step sisters. She didnt need Prince Philip to find her glass slipper and marry her away from them. She should have saved herself, I said.
What about Barbie? she asked.
Barbie doesnt ever DO anything, I explained. She just sits around looking pretty or buying big houses or flashy cars and a bunch of clothes. Really, dont you think there should be more to life than buying stuff? How does Barbie make the world a better place?
I dont know, she said.
Well, I want you to be able to do things for yourself when you grow up, I told her. So no more princesses or Barbie.
Okay, can I keep this one? It has Alice in Wonderland in it and other stories too, She asked.
It was an expensive collection of stories my mother had given her and I wasnt yet ready to offend my mother by selling her gifts to the used bookstore, so I relented.
And we only had to return one set of princess flash cards on her birthday. After a few tears she was pretty happy about the paint set she chose instead. And really, surprisingly, I think she really gets it. I think she really does understand that its important for girls to do stuff and not wait around for boys to come save them. Or at least on come cellular level she gets it and my struggle will not have been in vain. Now when we go to the store, she just accepts that its a rule. Like not being allowed to buy Bratz or Cheetah girls paraphernalia is a rule because they seem to have lost or grown out of all their clothes.