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Princess Culture Might Not Be Healthy For Girls

I know a very smart, independent, tomboyish 5-year-old who is enthralled by the idea of being a princess. It was Fiona from the Shrek films that got her hooked.

Girls have always loved playing with dolls and pretending they're princesses, but it appears to be crammed down their throats even more now by toy manufacturers and movie studios. There are princess baby clothes, princess-related Barbie items, and the entire Disney Princess franchise, featuring characters from Sleeping Beauty to Mulan. Even tough chick Dora the Explorer wears crowns sometimes!

Many people who are trying to raise nonbratty girls with aspirations beyond being pretty and glamorous worry that selling the princess ethos to girls might be a bad idea. Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State and author of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, worries as well. She argues, "It just encourages parents who put their kids on a pedestal — and who encourage their kids a lot and rarely criticize."

Twenge and her co-author W. Keith Campbell found that although a study of college-age men and women showed that men in that age group are more likely to exhibit narcissistic traits, the rate at which college-age women were developing narcissistic traits was four times that of the men.

Is the fantasy of being a princess just an inevitable rite of passage for girls? Or would girls be better off heeding, "Do not pass Princess Lane, do not collect crown"?


Amanda-La Amanda-La 8 years
I watched the little mermaid last night for the first time in years and all I could think was, I wouldn't want my daughter watching this. Ariel's sunken stomach and perfect boobs and hair. It's not realistic and this is what we're raised to believe is beautiful no wonder girls are anorexic. It's sick. Disney, shame.
RachLA RachLA 8 years
I think the entitlement comes from spoiling kids more than from showing princess movies... Separately, my fear about showing my kids princess movies would be making the girls seem like just vapid, pretty things who depend on men.
Rebecca14916991 Rebecca14916991 8 years
@ Janine - the villain in Beauty and the Beast was definitely male, as was Jafar in Aladin, and Ghengis Khan in Mulan, and the evil governor in Pocahontas. I know that the first three Disney princess movies had female villains, but it's not like they all do. And please tell me how Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan or Belle were simply passive. I think they were the opposite. JMO.
ferret ferret 8 years
I blame Paris Hilton. lol
bransugar79 bransugar79 8 years
I don't think it's the princess merchandise that's making girls into whiny simpering idiots. It's an overall degredation of society into materialistic cliques that is becoming pervasive among younger and younger groups of people. The truth is that a greater number of people were raised without boundaries and without the idea that they are a part of a larger group intead of the center of their own world. If people take the time to instill those values in their children more of them would reject the "I'm a princess" attitude because they would have a different perspective on the world and their place in it
WeTheLiving WeTheLiving 8 years
I think it's technology that's making people narcisstic. I get on Facebook and everyone just has tons of pics of themselves & my younger sisters even are always so obsessed with getting pictures of themselves. The point of pictures to me is to capture memories of friends and family and places, not just to show yourself to the world; but all these outlets for displaying pics has made people so self-important imo.
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
I only have issue with the I need someone else to save me mentality. I have seen little girls play princess and while playing they laid down and waited for the prince to come.. Characters like Mulan, Fiona and even Pochontas don't promote this; unfortunately they are not even a part of the Disney Princess line.
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
Why are people mentioning Mulan in this discussion. Mulan was never a Disney princess. She was a Disney character yes, but never a princess.
Janine22 Janine22 8 years
I think that there are 2 issues within the princess thing that bother me more. One is the whole 'being rescued by prince charming idea', which unfortunately too many girls and women still fall into. There is no perfect prince charming, let's start rescuing ourselves instead, ok girls? The other is body image and appearance. It bothers me that all of the good female Disney characters are beautiful, slim, young and passive and the bad female characters are always old, ugly women. (not to mention the fact that young girl characaters are portrayed in a sexualized way). Think about it, how many evil characters in Disney movies are men? I can't think of any. I think that there is a hidden agenda here, and it makes it very clear that the majority of writers and animators in the Disney corporation are men. Most of the female main characters do not have moms, or good older female role models for that matter. What message does this send to young girls? If you think about, it is unconsciously drummed into girls at a very young age that you need to be physically beautiful and subservient for a guy to really like you. NO, I don't think that these movies are solely responsible for the way a girl turns out. But society plays a big part in shaping our ideas, values and self-perception. You can't deny that, and the people that hold power are the ones that control the messages. (rich, white, older men). You can't bury your head in the sand and pretend it is not so.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
let girls have princesses, or whichever role model they want. I had princesses, American Girl dolls, Amelia Earhardt, Christina Rosetti, Princess Diana (a princess, but a philanthropist!!)........ and then my mother and father raised me to understand the value of hard work, to appreciate the things I earn and am given, and to know fantasy from reality I am so tired of parents/sociologists blaming everyone BUT parents for how children turn out!
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
I always wanted to be like Mowgli, raised by wolves. I never had the princess fantasy.
c4rolin3 c4rolin3 8 years
amieelo- i also did a feminism paper on females roles within fairytales. if you've not read angela carters 'the bloody chamber' short stories/take on fairy tales then i do recommend you do as she challanges the usual roles of women within fairytales. women as the savours/heriones, little red riding hood seducing the wolf.... obviously that's me going off on a tangent and that's interesting adult reading - not for children! :) i've always watched disney films and i've always been daddy's little princess, but never been spoilt and always been brought up to value the right things and to work hard in order to achieve success. exactly in the same way that video games and films apparently turn children into killers.... disney films can hardly turn little girls into demanding trolls- it's the parenting which is the most important thing. because of belle i started to read more when i grew up :) surely that's a great influence!
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
Ridiculous. I loved all those things growing up but my mother raised me right so none of it ever went to my head. It really depends on the parents.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I love old disney movies. I always wanted to grow up to be Belle. :) I dont think watching those movies gives anyone a sense of entitlement. If anything they become "Daddy's princess" which I think is an important part of growing up. Eventually they also separate fantasy and reality and only grow up to be "Princesses" if they're incredibly spoiled.
Aimeelo Aimeelo 8 years
I wrote about his subject for my final paper in one of my college classes, except mine had to do more with instant love and happy endings than feeling entitled to stuff. I do not think any of the Disney princesses give off entitlement vibes, except maybe Ariel, but we all knew she was a b*tch anyway.
satoriv satoriv 8 years
I hate when my little cousins play ¨"princess" and they are just waiting for a prince or cleaning the castle. I die inside...
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
In my opinion, the princesses in popular fairy tales are good role models. They are all kind-hearted, sweet, and smart females. Read the stories more carefully. Cinderella was basically mistreated and abused by her stepmother and stepsisters. Yet, she remained positive and sweet. Snow White was similarly mistreated by her stepmother, yet remained a benevolent, kind person. They're beautiful on the outside AND the inside, in spite of childhood abuse. These females had a rough start in life, and were able to obtain a happy, fulfilling lives as adults (when they became of age). If anything, these stories are about optimism and hope. They're about females who held on to their goodness under trying circumstances. To me, this is what's truly beautiful about these females (while I appreciate their outer beauty, too). As far as I'm concerned, I think these female characters deserve their happy ending. Their stories send a good message to young girls. (I fancy myself a princess enjoying her happy ending, and I'm grateful for it. ;) :))
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
Oh my God. I can't believe people would say princess movies, toys, etc., would give a young girl a sense of entitlement. Have parents really forgotten that they are some of the more influential people in a child's life? Have parents forgotten that they own the biggest part of their child's behavior? Kids do not become brats by watching a movie, playing with toys or anything like that -- they become brats because parents spoil them, because parents themselves may act as though they are entitled to things, and most importantly, the kids haven't been told that they are not entitled to everything on the planet. Let kids be kids. They are just princesses! And, as a dose of reality -- if you teach your kids right, they will know being a fairy princess or whatever is not real. When I was a little girl, I never aspired to be a princess? Why? Because I knew it was all bull*hit. My parents told me that it was not real -- and I got it. Kids are not stupid, if you say something that simple, they WILL understand it. I have never met a kid would was a moron. If you explain it in their way, they get it. Let them watch their damn cartoons and have their toys. That is not why our children are spoiled brats. It's because the parents who are raising those kids are obviously doing something wrong -- but since they usually believe they are infallible, blame everything else.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
#11, I haven't read the books, but based on what I've seen in the movies, I have to disagree. Most of the princesses in the movies want to be happy/help their families/find adventure. Of course romance is a part of children's movies, just as it's a part of adult movies. But, that doesn't mean that the princesses weren't motivated by other goals.
cowgirlredd cowgirlredd 8 years
so i think the title 'parents who buy into princess culture, etc...' might be more appropriate for this post, eh, tres?
Pistil Pistil 8 years
If a little girl grows up to be a spoiled entitled princess, it's the parents who enable her. You can't be outraged at the crap that's marketed to kids when it's the parents who buy into it and can't say no. I never liked Disney, but I enjoyed fairy tales and a healthy dose of fantasy and exercising my imagination as a kid. I didn't grow up to be a narcissistic brat.
janneth janneth 8 years
It is totally the parents' fault if a girl has a spoiled princess mentality, I agree. Anyway, I really liked Belle. She had brown hair for one thing, and always had her nose in a book.
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
I can't stand when movies and toys are blamed for the downfall of society. It's the parents job to parent their children and teach them what is real and make believe and what is right and wrong. I grew up watching disney movies and my nickname was princess because I was the only girl. I never actually thought I was a princess or wanted to be one. I didn't want have to marry a prince, yuck! Parents are responsible for what their little girls grow up to be. I didn't want to grow up to be just like the princess in a cartoon. I wanted to grow up and be just like my mom and dad because I looked up to them, not some fictional character.
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