Friday, August 17, 2012

The Princess Syndrome

These days, if you read an article about little girls, it's often bemoaning their enslavement to Disney Princesses.  They only want to dress in pink and pretend to be a princess, mothers bewail.  This is not progressive or even aesthetically desirable.

But personally, I find the princess backlash confusing because seriously, who the fuck didn't want to be a princess?  Long before Disney princesses, before the Princess Diaries, there was still Sara Crewe and her eternal pretense of princesshood.

For those unfamiliar with the 1905 Francis Hodgson Burnett book A Little Princess, it is the story of a pampered child, who, thrust into adversity and servitude as a London slavey, uses her imagination to sustain herself and others.  Sara's longstanding "pretend" is of being a princess, and she comports herself so admirably that all who behold her are moved by her grace and generosity.

This was a touchstone book for me as a child--I, like Sara, had a great many pretends and plays that shaped my character.  Like Sara, I loved beautiful things and imagined my world into something far grander.

I found myself considering this question tonight as I realized that I, thirty-two, fat and dissolute, still want to be a goddamn princess.  So why, I asked myself, is this still a thing?  What is it about princesses that makes them so special?

Then it occurred to me--what other type of woman, in our shitty society, is automatically valued simply for who she is?  For the effortless task of being born?  She walks into a room and everybody pays attention. Her likes and dislikes matter. Her interests are encouraged. She is an object of beauty in and of herself.  I'm speaking, understand, of the idea of the princess more than actual princesses.  Actual princesses seem pretty miserable, which is a shame, but doesn't change the ideal at all.

What of you, dear reader?  Were you a princess or did you have more progressive dreams as a child?

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