My son wouldn’t know a Disney princess if one walked up, shat sparkles and pissed glitter in the midst of a royal coronation. I have two boys and a feminist outlook, so my preschooler really surprised me with this fascinating little exchange the other day:
A-man: You be the princess. I’ll be the hunter.
Hugzilla: Why do I have to be the princess?
A-man: Because you are a girl.
Hugzilla: But girls can be hunters too.
A-man: (looks shocked and puzzled) Uh?
Hugzilla: I don’t want to be a princess. I want to be a hunter.
A-man: But, but… you are a girl. Girls are princesses.
Hugzilla: (sighs) What do princesses do?
A-man: They….uhh… sparkle.
Hugzilla: What do hunters do?
A-man: They do stuff.
Hugzilla: Well, I don’t care. I’m a hunter.
Princesses sparkle. Hunters do stuff.
Girls look pretty. Girls decorate space. Girls are valued for their appearance.
Boys do things. Boys master their environment. Boys are valued for their ability.
We need to stop telling young girls they are gorgeous and start telling them how accomplished they are. We need to stop dolling them up in lace and glitter and start sending the message that they are perfect in their natural state. We need to stop complimenting them for being compliant and meek and start encouraging them to be fierce and forthright.
We need to tell them they can be hunters. Because not all of us want to be princesses.