“What’s wrong with princesses? Who wouldn’t want to be a princess?”
Quite often, when I express my passion for better superheroes and other aspirational images for girls, that’s the response I get. And it’s soooo easy for me to start bashing princesses, because, really, I’m not into them, myself. But you know what? My daughter loves them. Of course she loves them!
It’s important not to get sucked into the either/or narrative. I’m not taking a “you’re either with us or you’re with the princesses” stance here. My daughter has seen “Frozen” countlesstimes and can recite it by heart. I’m not a “princess nazi.”
There is room in this world for princesses, supermodels, engineers, rockstars and superheroes.
The problem, as I see it, is when the options are limited. When princesses are dominating everything, heavily. Just go to Toys R Us and check out the “girls” section and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I know that people will say that the toys manufacturers are just catering to the market. But those toys manufacturers have deep ties to the entertainment industry. And the entertainment industry *creates* the market. Entertainment companies, toy marketers, retailers all have a bottom line that must be satisfied. They do not have time (so they believe) to contribute positively to society. They do not take risks. They do what works.
But you can just imagine how this spirals, right? One princess is a huge hit. So more princesses are pumped out. Those princesses sell well, because princesses are fun, and well, nothing else is really for sale. Confirmed: princesses sell. Nothing else gets tried. The lowest common denominator rules.
There’s a story that goes around that when a pink train was marketed, it failed. The conclusion was then made that girls don’t like trains. Not even making them pink will sell them!!!This is the kind of thinking that drives kids products marketing. Could it have been that it isn’t about the color? Perhaps girls desire a different kind of train that does different things or goes different places.
Of course princesses are fine and even fun. But they shouldn’t be the dominant option.