Sometimes my daughter Matilda and I have tea parties together where I’m the Queen and she’s the Princess. This afternoon she got her tea set out and asked if I would play with her. I told her I would.
She said, “OK mummy, you need to go and put a wig on because Queens don’t have bald heads” – my first thought was “wow, way to make your mother feel like shit” but I collected my thoughts and realised she needed a little lesson in feminism.
I have breast cancer and she didn’t mean anything horrible by this. She’s the sweetest little thing but unfortunately she has that whole Disney fairy-tale approach to tea parties and all things princess.
I sat down with her and said:
“Honey, having long hair doesn’t make you a Queen. Being beautiful, or having the best dress doesn’t make you a Queen. Do you know what makes a good Queen? Queens are the most powerful women, they’re good Mummys and strong people, they’ll protect you and they’ll love you and they are so much more than long hair or a pretty dress. To be a Queen you just need to be a strong woman.”
She looked a bit bewildered but answered, "You're right mummy," and handed me a tiara.
We talked about how the most beautiful people are beautiful because of their soul and their smile.
I think she understood because later in the game she told me to "have a rest" and that the Princess would be looking after the Queen today. She then went to 'Princess School' where she's the teacher and told all of her little dolly pupils that Queens don't have to have long hair.
I'll be keeping a close eye on her and making sure she doesn't grow up believing what we're all told in the fairy-tales about Princesses from such a young age, from body image to marrying a Prince.
It's funny because Matilda is a great balance between tomboy and loving all things fairies, princess and Disney. I think Disney have come a long way in breaking away from the 'typical' fairy-tale but Matilda is only five years old and it worries me what other concepts she has in her mind that could be damaging.
I don't want her ever thinking that you have to look a certain way to be a 'princess' or a little girl. I want her to enjoy all those things but for her to know that it's not everything. That there's more to people than what they wear.
This post was originally published on Hayley's blog and was republished with permission.