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The Princess Debate
December 3, 2013
Man's heart away from nature becomes hard.
-Standing Bear

"Marketers can claim 'princess' has the capacity to empower girls all they want; but at the end of the day, in the marketplace, princess culture always reduces girls’ interests to being pretty and finding romance," observed Rebecca Hain in her article "Anti-princess branding beyond the bandwagon" in Christian Science Monitor.

"As a result, the ubiquity of princesses actually limits young girls’ imaginations.  They aren’t seeing many other versions of girlhood promoted to them.  Although Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies is always reminding people that there are many ways to be a girl, pop culture is showing girls too many minor variations on the princess theme and calling these similar items 'choices' — selling girls short in the process.

"The upshot is that today’s girls are like the sailors in Coleridge’s famous, poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.'  They’re adrift in a sea of princesses, and their imaginations are parched.  Being sold princesses everywhere they go — from toy stores to grocery stores to hardware stores — makes our girls’ worlds shrink."

In her article, Hain goes on to discuss the "princess pushback" and how some of the anti-princess branding has limitations of its own.

Educators must act with knowledge and purpose to make sure young children acquire the skills and understanding they need to succeed. Intentional teachers keep in mind the key goals for children’s learning and development in all domains by creating supportive environments, planning curriculum, and selecting from a variety of teaching strategies that best promote each child’s thinking and skills.

The Intentional Teacher considers how and when each type of learning (child-guided, adult-guided, or a combination) is most effective, and what teachers can do to support them.

"This is one of the best early childhood books that I have ever read, and I have read a lot of them. It takes on a difficult topic about which little direct research exists and does an outstanding job of framing the discussion in ways that not only will push the practice of current teachers, but will also provide a new theoretical framework for pushing a new generation of research in the field."
— Sue Bredekamp, Council for Professional Recognition


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Comments (4)

Displaying All 4 Comments
Emlyn Addison
ixwa Creative
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
12/10/2013 06:37 am

Having just spent yesterday shopping for two young girls--this at a very respectable toy store in a crunchy granola neighborhood--I was fairly stunned to see the walls of icky pink and purple princess schlock being hawked.

Of course girls may possess some innate attraction to these, but that this *single* area is so over-saturated speaks to a lack of imagination on the part of toy designers and, more likely, a profit-motivated priority for the companies that sell them.

Julie Hendry
Orlando, FL, United States
12/03/2013 08:55 am

I loved reading this...and agree, it would be wonderful to have this conversation on more social media like Face Book. I appreciate hearing someone sharing that we should never limit a child...and that the "Adults" shaping these young girls need to think in a different direction...there are no thrones when you grow up...only opportunities to make a difference and serve our communities.

Sandi Dexter
Seattle , WA, United States
12/03/2013 06:43 am

Rebecca nails it, in my mind, when discussing the princess phenomenon. I wish there was a way to share these articles on facebook!

Alice Whiren
United States
12/03/2013 05:26 am

On the one hand, marketers, toy manufacturers, apparel designers can present an image of the princess to little girls. On the other hand, parents, teachers, extended family members either support that image or present other competing images. Children attune to those people closest to them as they develop their identities so the latter is more powerful by far. I think that there is a little bit of princess identity in most females as there is also a little bit of the hero identity. Being a girl /woman is so complex, I think it is better to deal with the whole than just one piece of it. We cannot let merchandise usurp the roles of caring people, nor can we neglect to to provide girls with images of themselves as a scientist, worker or whatever. In the end, children will form identities based on lots of things and loving adults are the best source of the most powerful ones.

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