Assessing the Princess Obsession

tutugirlOne day, about a month before her birthday, I casually asked Aubrey what sort of party she’d like.  She stared at me blankly.  Because I’m not a do-it-yourself kind of girl, I thought of the limited party-plate selection at Wal-Mart, and prompted, “You know, like a Dora party or a princess party?”  Aubrey considered for a moment, then announced, “I want a princess party.”  Okay, done!  Immediately I thought of the $5 Ariel costume I’d picked up at a consignment sale for trick-or-treating.  Perfect!  The simplicity was satisfying—there were 86 billion princess party supplies at Wal-Mart, and she would get 2 uses out of her Ariel costume.

But in the weeks that followed, I began to have second-thoughts.  As Heidi’s birthday came and went, Aubrey grew increasingly excited about her upcoming princess party.  She talked about princesses, wanted to watch movies about princesses, and adoringly dressed the Polly Pocket princesses at her friend’s house.  My doubts grew.  But I’d already told grandma about the princess party, and the day after she heard, all 86 billion princess party supplies from Wal-Mart were deposited in my dining room, along with a few princess coloring books just for fun.  Before long, Aubrey knew all the Disney princesses by name and dress color.  Finally, one night, I voiced my concerns to Clint.  “You know, I’ve been thinking…what if we did a ‘God’s princess’ theme?  We could put up a big sign that says, ‘I know I’m a princess because my Father is the King of Kings!’”

“Sounds kinda cheesy,” Clint said.

*Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.  In the end, I’ve chosen to keep the princess party theme, although it will hardly be a “Toddlers in Tiara’s” extravaganza.  In fact, only grandparents have been invited, so there will be exactly one dress-up princess in attendance—Ariel.  But the whole ordeal has caused me to consider carefully the messages and media I’m encouraging in our home.

There is something beautiful and dangerous in the “princess” theme.  I never taught my daughter to find pink puffy dresses and princesses fascinating.  I doubt many moms do.  Nevertheless, the phenomenon lives.  Why?  Because it captures the female heart.  It speaks of our desire to be precious, to be valued and treasured and loved.  All of these messages I want to drive deeply into my daughter’s heart—you are precious, you are valuable, you are of incredible worth because God Almighty created You, gave His very life to redeem you, and pursues you even now.  You will never meet a King as mighty, nor a Prince as romantic as Jesus Himself.  In belonging to Him you will find all the worth your soul ever craves. 

But this is only one side of the coin.  The princess theme is also engaging because it caters to our sinful longing to make much of ourselves.  And that is the aspect of the princess obsession that I despise.   Not the desire to be special, but the desire to be the most special, the most beautiful, the most important, the most glorified.  As a mother who desperately loves my daughters, I see a powerful beast alive in the princess mentality, and it makes me want to don some knightly armor and rescue my daughters myself.  I want to protect them from the arrogance of entitlement, the addiction to self-glory as ancient as the Tower of Babel.  But the truth is, plastering a cheesy banner across my living room wall doesn’t make me a knight any more than fastening orange extensions into Aubrey’s hair makes her Ariel.  There is only One Warrior with the ability to protect my daughters, only One Hero with the capacity to satisfy them.  And my greatest hope for raising my girls in godliness is daily throwing myself upon His mercy.

5 thoughts on “Assessing the Princess Obsession

  1. You write so well! You capture what’s at the heart of your topic & you speak to my heart. How do you do it?

  2. I love your assessment of this obsession and your desire to have your daughters know “are of incredible worth because God Almighty created You, gave His very life to redeem you.” This is what I desire to express to my little girls (2 & 3) when they seek approval over their hair or say they are beautiful b/c of their dress up clothes or fancy dresses.

  3. I have been studying this very topic in preparing for this year’s VBS. I’m using revelation 19:7-8 the description of the Church as Christ’s Bride dressed in her beautiful wedding clothes; paired with Colossians 3: 12 &14. You can delight in the stories of princesses, and fantastic weddings and knights-in shining armor because that is the story of God. The King who comes in disguise, rescues the lady (who is really a peasant and only becomes a princess by marriage), comes back on a white horse with the shining army behind him to defeat evil, makes everything right again in the kingdom, and then brings his chosen lady forward, now clean and beautifully dressed in garments given to her by the King to become his bride. Just as I don’t teach my sons that they are THE Prince (Jesus has that role already – they are knights in his service). So I try to teach the girls that they are Ladies-in-waiting, the servants of the princess-to-be, making her dress beautiful by following God (putting on mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love) and looking forward to the greatest wedding day of all. That is when our true beauty will be revealed and we will receive our inheritance as children of God (see also colossians 3:4 and Romans 8:23 – in fact all of Colossians ch3 is full of good stuff). You don’t have to be the lead character to love the story.

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