From the moment I found out I was having a baby girl, I have not stopped hearing the word “Princess.”
“Oh, she’s going to be such a little princess!”
“You must be so excited about finally having a princess!”
“With two big brothers, she’s going to be treated like such a princess!”
The variations of this statement are endless. What I fail to understand, however, is why having “little girl parts” automatically means that a baby is precious in a spoiled, pink and purple, frilly, and somewhat entitled way. Maybe I have a different understanding of the meaning of “princess” as it pertains to little girls. However, I don’t think that is necessarily the case.
I was a little girl once. I was expected to be “prim and proper.” I was expected to wear frilly dresses to special occasions. I always had to look pretty.
I watched a lot of princess movies. Especially those Disney classics… Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty… And these movies all propagated the idea that little girls grow up to be pretty and submissive women who wait for their handsome, rich prince to come and save them from themselves and provide a life that they would never have had otherwise.
“Princess” comes with it’s fair share of connotations and stereotypes… For sure.
I realize that in today’s society, girls are more empowered, even than they were when I was a kid. Women are making up their fair share of the workplace, including in professional, often male dominated, areas. It is a great change to see. Regardless, there is still some kind of stigma that surrounds girls and women. Somehow “empowered” in relation to women has been translated into being beautiful and proud of your body (just take one look at the nude selfies of famous, beautiful women that come up on Instagram when you search #empowered). Or even something as simple as the idea that a baby girl is expected tone raised and treated like a princess.
After all, I’ve given birth to and raised two little boys and I never encountered even a fraction of the comments (or articles of clothing) suggesting that my cute, precious, and adorable little boy would be a “prince.” (I can’t even think of one)
I’m not against pink and purple (just as much as I’m not against blue and green, or any other colour for that matter). Fluffy tu-tus and frilly dresses are certainly very cute and belong in any little girl’s wardrobe – if they want them! I am not an advocate for complete gender neutrality when it comes to raising children. Boys and girls are different in some ways and it is perfectly acceptable to embrace these differences. It is also perfectly acceptable to breakdown stigma and stereotypes – and for that reason I let my boys play with My Little Pony happy meal toys if they want them, and I paint their finger and toe nails when they ask me to.
I am certainly very excited to be having a little girl after having two boys. I am looking forward to the differences I will encounter in raising a different gendered child. I am also looking forward to seeing how my boys will react to, and interact with, their baby sister. I am looking forward to venturing into the other half of the children’s clothing stores, brushing and braiding hair, and bonding with a child in a different way than I have with my boys. All of this doesn’t mean, though, that this baby inherently deserves to be spoiled, or doted on, or fawned over in a different way than my boys were just because she’s a baby girl.
I want the best of everything in the world for all of my kids. I want them to accomplish their dreams, whatever they may be. I want them to have the same opportunitiesas all other children. Most importantly, I don’t want any of my kids, especially my daughter, to be treated differently or have different expectations in their lives because of their gender.