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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"?

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