A few months ago, the fantastic editorial team at Today’s Parent asked my husband and I if we would go head-to-head in a written debate for the September 2013 issue. We excitedly agreed and the assigned topic turned out to be, ‘Should you let your girls play with princess stuff?’
Ian and I decided that he would write the ‘Yes’ side and I would author the ‘No’ side. I was thinking the assignment would be a total walk in the park, but it turned out to be a very interesting challenge for a number of reasons. First of all, it was *tough* to summarize my thoughts in just 375 words! Most of my blog posts are (at least) 500 words, and it was amazing what a difference it made to have to be that much more concise.
It was also a challenge because truthfully, princess stuff is really not something that I’ve had to deal with – despite the fact that I have two little girls. While I have never once attempted to sway my kids “for” or “against” princesses, the reality is that neither one of them has ever shown any interest. While other three-year-old girls were putting on puffy, pink dresses, my eldest daughter was busy memorizing the names of dinosaurs. Now nine years old, Elissa continues to be much more interested in animals and science than dressing up. My youngest shows more stereotypical gender tendencies in her play, though the emphasis tends to be more on fashion – for herself and her stuffed animals – than princesses per se.
The assignment got me reflecting on the many social influences that kids are now exposed to. I don’t think that the whole world of princess stuff is inherently bad, but I do sometimes question the stereotypical gender messages it sends to little girls. The debate seemed to generate some good discussion on a common issue; read the full debate here and let me know what you think!