I heard it again yesterday.
“What do you want, princess?” cooed a mother in the Target checkout line. My eyelids started to twitch. I had to choke down a sigh. Because lately I’ve heard way, way too many women calling their daughters Princess.
Like, “Princess, which underwear do you want?”
I’ve also heard too many women refer to their daughters as princesses in person and online: “Oh, my princess won’t wear jeans,” one mum lamented. And then I saw the eye-searing portmanteau “twincesses,” and I nearly banged my head against the wall.
Mums of daughters, just stop it. Your daughter isn’t a princess. The Princess Industrial Complex notwithstanding, unless you’re the Duchess of Cambridge, your daughter isn’t actually the offspring of royalty born to untold riches and privilege.
You may love her; you may think she’s worth all the royalty in the world, but it doesn’t matter.
When I was a little girl, I played princess a lot. I had a special blue dress with feather edging; I wore my clunky heels and a pretend crown. My mother smiled indulgently.
But never did she actually refer to me as a princess. Princesses were for play. And despite what the Disney marketing would have you believe, they still are.
Here’s why: princesses are passive ornaments.
They’re dressed up in pretty clothes and paraded around at various functions, including (according to Princess Kate’s calendar) school openings and horse races. Their clothes are selected to reflect the dignity of the throne; they don’t get to pick. Their days are planned for them. Is this really what you want for your daughter?
In addition to opening charity hospitals, princesses have one function: breeding.
Traditionally, princesses were pawned off on husbands that helped cement global alliances. Once wedded, their chief duty was to lie in the birthing bed, where they’d be expected to produce heirs, spares, and as many children as possible.
Princesses weren’t given a choice in their selection of husbands. This is no “someday, my prince will come.” Princesses are passive, dependent on the men around them to make decisions, and used sexually in ways they don’t choose. It’s basically rape culture.
Princesses do come with untold riches, though — at least, most of them do. But is that really your highest goal for your daughter?