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October 24, 2007


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Very well said. About the in-laws, we don't live with them but they still manage to spoil our kids especially my son as the mind him from time to time.

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Slouch socks. I haven't thought about slouch socks in so very long.

poignant post, thank you...

C, 3 and a bit, is deeply into: cars, trucks, trains, painting, drawing, reading etc, but *not* into dolls, princesses...

My mother is convinced that we are not letting her 'be a little girl'.

No mom, I'm just not going to let her be a passive consumer of Disneyfied values. And it's not that she hasn't been exposed to it (her very very best friend is a princess-holic), she just not into that!

Oh, and the poor little tyke isn't allowed to wear hoochie clothes either. Just shoot me now for being a rotten parent....

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Buy it. Read it. Love it. I have it memorized. Now there's a princess!!

My hat's off to you. I, too, am a firm believer in raising a young lady that will not be told to play in the kitchen or in the nursery.

I'm totally with you on the commercialization aspect and as a mom of an older girl who LOVES dolls and stuffed animals etc, you might take comfort in the fact that the princess fixation does seem to fade away around age 6-7, as per my observations of my daughter and her friends.

Umm hmm lost comment.

More or less said this was a really emotional post in a way for me.

And said good for you taking back the bridle.

Using My Words

What a great post. We've got a few princesses here as well. Thanks for the laugh.

I know what you mean, and it is at times like this that I thank God even more we only have a son. Bringing up a girl here in Egypt, it would have been doubly hard to isolate her from all this girly crap.
Although bringing up my son gender-neutral without any of the gender stereotypes influencing him is going to be soooo hard. Me and my DH were recently having a discussion about whether we would let our DS play with dolls or not. My DH is not opposed to the concept, but is afraid that he'll be ridiculed if he grows up loving dolls and stuffed animals. Not only by other kids but by their parents also. So we agreed that we wouldn't encourage any kind of gender-toy either way (dolls, guns, swords, etc..). But if he showed a specific preference we wouldn't discourage it too.

I just watched the South Park where there is a terror attack on our imagination (w/o the kids!) Should I be worried my boys would way rather have all the evil characters (storm troopers, robots, transformers) than the "good" ones? One good thing about not having boys, no princesses... they do like the pink power ranger and Dora, though.

Hate all the crapola but we accept the grandparent infusion of plastic junk. Within the hour it's in the trash.

I quit trying to educate the grandparents. It's pointless. However, when you lived them the in-laws how did you not chew your arms off?

i get it.

A__ isn't quite there yet (being 13 months). so far i've only had to contend with "toys that make music..uh, make that NOISE." everyone knows i don't buy them for her and when she gets them as gifts, she only gets one at a time. the rest live in the closet. i don't know how people can have multiple singing toys out at the same time. it would drive me crazy.

i give her toys that she has to manipulate, build, create and sort herself. i also happen to keep the tv in the closet.

keep sticking to your guns. i think it's worth it.


Point taken :)

I see what you are saying about the princess thing. My daughter has watched some of them, but she's more in to the stories like the 'Because of Winn Dixie'. Stories that focus on family and being true to who you are and who you love.

When the stuffed animals do come out, she makes up her own scenes and pretends like some of the other posters have mentioned.

And, for the record, my daughter didn't have Barbie at age 3 either :)

To respond --

I don't think it's about fostering someone's individuality. For me, it's about giving her toys that don't already tell her story.

The Disney Princesses tell her the story that she's being saved by a Prince.

I don't mind if she dresses up like a Princess or a Cow or a Hooker.

Okay. I care about that.

But my point is that those stories are being told already. I want her to come up with her own. And she will. Cripes. Those damn princesses aren't leaving my house anytime soon.

As for the Barbies, there's no reason for her to have them now. She doesn't need a boobified doll who wears slutty clothes.

Sorry. When she's older and has friends and they are playing with barbies then I'll entertain it. But a three year old? No way.

And honestly, she wouldn't have had them or the bratz or any of that other shit that's out there because I would have grabbed it and tossed it.

She doesn't miss the barbies. She doesn't even know that they are gone.

So maybe they weren't that important to her.

It's not that barbies will make her be a barbie, it's that she sees these mostly blonde, boobalicious women wearing incredibly inappropriate clothes and personally, I don't feel she needs to have that as a three-year-old girl.

They see this crap and they think that girls can't wear a fucking pair of pants.

And that pisses me off.

I have to admit I like the Princesses - and I buy them for my nieces because my sister has a problem purchasing all the princess stuff but doesn't mind it in her house.
The way she's justified it is that they get to play princesses and barbies with their aunt but it's not a mommy thing. I'd never impose if she didn't allow it.
I think her time and place rule is a good one. They are also allowed a shit load of junk when they are at my house and they would never get that at home.

wow....this all seems a little dramatic to me but what do I know.

My almost 8 year old daughter is a Girl Scout, loves sports and the outdoors, Judy Moody and anything with animals. Her fave shows on tv all reside on Food Network, Discovery, Animal Planet or Nat Geo.

She is a book FREAK reading at 10th grade level. She would bury her nose in one for 8 hours a day if she could.

She will color, paint, create and build with anything.

She's socially and environmentally aware and is constantly trying to find ways to donate food or clothes or help those less fortunate than us. As we walked into Henry's (local grocery store) last week we passed a young mother with three kids. She didn't appear to be homeless, perhaps on the verge, and was asking for money. While we were in the the store my daughter asked if we could help. She decided to get them a gift card to the store so that they could pick out the food they wanted and needed.

She also loves Hannah Montana, owns Barbies, plays with My Little Pony, Hello Kitty and likes to play dress up. And you know what? It's okay. Pretty damn balanced in my opinion.

I want her to be what SHE wants to be, not what everyone else wants her to be.

Oldest daughter was princess obsessed and saturated with it. I have too many nieces to have kept it from her. But now that she's been there, done that and this year asked to be a ladybug for Halloween. She's only 3, so I can deal with that!

Didn't read all the comments so forgive me if I repeat.

If we want our children to be individuals doesn't that mean that they shouldn't be mirror images of us either?

I want to expose my children to the things I think are "good" and "healthy." Not necessarily what I like. I'm not a toddler. But watching those stupid Little People videos calms them and talk about being friends, and helping, and treating each other fairly.

As for the princess stuff, I think it'd happen whether your inlaws drowned her in Disney. I think your take on a princess who eats her vegetables, or makes her own bed, or grows up to be a doctor is enough.

Our job is to let our kids know what our values are and raise them accordingly. One of my values is to help them be individuals.

I guess I'm lucky that I haven't had to deal with the princess obsession yet - Cordy couldn't care less.

And if she does develop an interest, I'll whip out my Sailor Moon DVDs - a magical, super powered princess who, while whiny and shallow at times, saves the universe and learns to believe in herself.

I dont know why people get so bent out of shape about toys. Unless my kids are just weird, todays favorite must have toy is next months Goodwill donation. Granted, they are toddlers and their attentions span, it is lacking.

But the whole point of play is PLAY. Playing at house, playing at firefighter, playing at artist or chef. I dont think encouraging my boys to play with baseballs will make them a professonal baseball player any more than encouraging them to play with Barbies will make them want to BE Barbie. I hate legislating play by trying to control what my kids play with. I feel it can only backfire into making the banned toy all that more desirable.

Isnt that why I liked wine coolers and guys with fast cars so much when I was 17?

I got my son a baby doll awhile back. You know, to nuture his sensitive side. He plays with the doll alright. He throws it up in the air and hits it with his light saber. Because the baby is Darth Moll and of course, he's trying to kill the evil bad guy.

So although I don't have a girl, I can understand how you're TRYING to get past some of those stereotypes but thanks to outside influences, its more difficult than you realized.

I told the boy if there is any more talk of killings, swords or other weapons, his shit goes in the trash.

Bella has been princess-obsessed since practically birth, it seems. My MIL made her GORGEOUS dress-up gowns and even a "fur" capelet. And then she started preschool, and suddenly knew about the Disney princesses. For Halloween this year, I had to beg her to be something else.

I am trying to throw a commercial free birthday party. Cups and plates without Disney characters are hard to find. To make matters worse my kids middle name is Elmo. Guest what people think it is cute to buy him? Drive me nuts.

I like how my daughter takes all her little Disney character figurines and mixes them with the wood-headed dolls from her wooden doll house and makes up stories that are some weird mix of horse-stories-princess-stories-monster- stories (the Disney dudes have the names, Cinderella, Mulan, Sully, etc, but don't play out the stories from the movies), always something new and wonderful. I thought, when I was pregnant, that we would have a Barbie-free zone. Turns out that my daughter talked my dad into one, and then she won me over after I watched what she did with it. So when she asked for a couple more for her birthday, I got them. Her dolls are all heroes, smart and strong. There is the occasional wedding, for which she has one Ken doll, but there's usually something funny, like the dog eats the cake, or the horse steps on the grandma. For a Barbie alternative, check out Only Hearts Club dolls. They're soft bendable Barbie-sized dolls, they're teenagers I guess, they have flat chests and regular clothes like pants and sweatshirts.

I find my princess issues fading.

When Lizzy was born, I felt strongly about subverting gender roles and stereotypes, as well as about her exposure to princesses and co-dependent role models. My family, bless them, were annoyed with me yet complied with my wishes about toys and movies.

It did squat.

Well, let me re-phrase that. Early shielding made later acceptance of the influence easier to swallow and to mediate. She went to school and discovered what I'd been hiding: Littlest pet shop, barbies, ponies, princesses. BUT, having shown her movies like The Incredibles long before Cinderella, she chooses to be a super-hero princess. I can deal with that. For Halloween she chose to be a pink unicorn, but that just gives me the opportunity to share ancient myths about unicorns, not resign myself to girliness.

Also, and please don't bite my head off here folks, I'm recommending the movie Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses. (Seriously, stand back...) The princesses are athletic, bookish, love bugs, and ride horses. They do dance and there is a wedding, but they also save the day and their ability to live and think independently in the face of an evil cousin who seekes to make them "proper." I was wary and cranky when she unwrapped it at her 5th bday party, but I can make a case for it as a feminist manifesto. Really.

In the end, it has occured to me that I played with princesses and Barbies and still grew up to be a strong, intelligent, critical thinker. We limit and we control (and I do that all too...), but more importantly we should teach them early on how to confront the stereotypes they'll inevitably encounter.

Have you seen the commercial for those Dream Town play sets? http://www.hasbro.com/dreamtown/

Last night this commercial came on, and before I could even spout off my feminist rant about the little house that opens into nothing more than a nursery, and a kitchen (because, after all, that's all girls need to learn about) my husband looked at me and said "Oh My God! So little girls are reduced to nothing more now than mommies and maids?!?!" I was so proud of him. :)

My son's favorite thing to play with at Daycare is the Little Tykes Kitchen, so that's what HE is getting for X-mas this year.

Screw those gender stereotypes. Maybe he'll grow up to be Emeril.

Maybe THIS is what Freecycle is good for!

Have you seen the Groovy Dolls? My nieces love them. Then again, they also love Barbie and all that princess crap too. I'd rather the Princesses than Barbie, but it's all better than those Boobz, I mean Bratz.

My oldest niece is 6 and she's moving on to those little pet things, which are just pains in the ass to step on, but not so bad image wise.

ROFL! I know this anti-princess stuff is serious business, but I'm dying laughing at leaving the Princess bike on the front lawn for a thief!! I, too, have an unwanted Princess bike I'd much rather never had become part of the family. I just might have to leave it out front. But in my 'hood...it'll be gone by sun up.

I've also had to add some creepy Curious George books AND Snoopy and the Red Baron books to the paper recycler just recently. Who's great idea was it to write a book about kidnapping a monkey from his home in Africa, dragging him home in a BAG and telling him he'd be very happy at a Zoo in New York City? Then there's the Snoopy book written about Snoopy dodging machine gun bullets in his WWI airplane. I realize so many of these books were written in the '50s and '60s, but didn't kids in those days have nightmares? I can just hear the conversation that starts out as my husband leaves to go fly... "Mommy, will the Red Baron shoot my daddy out of the sky when he's flying an airplane?".

I've written down all the alternative princess book ideas! Thanks Jozet for those!!!

P.S. The only barbie in this house is the Native American Barbie and my SON is the only one who plays with her. I figure, that's good enough for me. Once he figures out how to pull her head off, she'll be outta here.

my daugther wears her belle dress with her angels baseball hat so I guess there's a balance there.

i've been through this before with my 9 year old who used to draw her own self portrait as Jasmine. i was a tad worried then but now she plays volleyball, dances hula, reads the series of unfortunate events, hates hannah montana, is a girl scout and thinks she just might run for president. i'd say it all worked out even if there was princess stuff in our house.

My grandfather-in-law bought my daughter the Disney Princesses bike last summer and I had a hard time holding back the puke. He's of an age and temperment that would not understand (or even try to) why I was disgusted. I've actually tried leaving it out on the front yard for someone to steal but I guess everyone else hates that crap, too.

Thanks for this post. My family had a hissy fit over our "No Barbie" rule. We are trying to hold off on the pink fro-fro girlie stuff until she is at least old enough to ask for it...which we are hoping is never. Good for you for putting you foot down it does not mean that you are a evil witch.

Bossy likes to purge toys in stages, employing a little thing she likes to call the Out-of-Sight theory:

-shit goes in trash bags.
-trash bags go in car.
-Bossy rides around with the trash bags in her car for months at a time and the bonus is: there's no room for groceries or anything! and so stuff has to be jammed between people's legs in the backseat!
-if Bossy's kids don't notice anything is gone Bossy drops the garbage bags off at Goodwill.

Guess I won't be getting her anymore princess outfits for Christmas! :) Thanks for the toy guide...that helps alot.

I had this problem too with princess crap filtering it's way into my NON PRINCESS-ey home.

So my daughter morphed from the princess I detested into a Cowgirl Princess, one who could do anything a boy could do, one who ate her vegetables and one who no longer watched television but instead played outside or in the playroom with her brother.

I banned barbies and all other princessy crap from entering our domain and eventually, my daughter forgot all about it.

She's now a lego fanatic and a puzzle queen.

Tacy is growing out of it. She was similarly obsessed for a few years (especially ages 3 and 4), but it's waning. This year for Halloween, she asked to be a black cat. I consider that to be real progress!

The Mayor likes the Angelina Ballerina and Nina, Nina Ballerina books. I like that about him.

First of all, you have to watch this


(I don't kow whether that link will work. If not, go to


and watch the Onslaught film. It's on YouTube, too.)

As the mom of two daughters, I worry far less about princesses, and far more about everything else. The single best thing I did for my family was get television out of our house.

The next best thing I did was to become a Girl Scout Leader and promise to do more than make potholders with my troop.

Get the book Cinder Edna, by Ellen B. Jackson. Edna goes to the ball by bus with fare she earned herself, and marries the prince's younger brother who runs a recycling business.

Also, check out this site:


and this one


Also check out the book Beautiful Warrior, ISBN 0590374877.

And Mermaid of Cafur ISBN 1902283406

I have a ton of alternative princess books. Maybe I'll write a post...someday. ;-)

We picked up a great book for Chicky shortly after she was born - "Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?". Great for the toddler/pre-school years. There's a few books in that series. Just a suggestion.

Antiprincess art:


Great empowering girl's tees:


I am completely with you on this. I cringe when my daughter comes home from daycare and talks about Dora and Nemo and Thomas Trains when she's never seen any of that at home.

We LOVE Mulan.

And I tell Quinlan that the dressing up as a boy is historical -- which isn't that far fetched.

Thanks for the reminder, Joanne!

Never fear -- Mulan to the rescue. Even though she is marketed as a Disney princess, she is not a princess. And:
1. She's smarter than all the boys/men.
2. She loves to read and keep her own company.
3. Her own family and friends are the most important thing to her.
4. She doesn't want to get married (tho' of course Disney has to give her a boyfriend at the end).
5. And she saves all of China.

OK, she does have to pretend she's a boy -- but we know she's not!

I could not agree more; I am having a girl in 7 weeks, already have a boy, and I know that the grandmother, aunts, etc., are NOT the type to understand this princess loathing- you should see my niece. I will be promptly taking any offensive items to goodwill, and I'm sure they will talk about us for letting our precious little girl wear her brother's hand-me-downs, play with his toys, etc., but we are just NOT going for all that girly bullshit! Oh- you'll love this one- the MIL has always told the niece, "pride is painful" as she fixes her hair, etc. How do I keep those words from reaching my daughter?

Damn those grandparents!

These suggestions are great -- keep them coming...

We play princess in this house, because with 10 grandparents, it inevitably finds its way here, but in our house we always say, "Real princesses save themselves!" as we vanquish the dragon or whatever. In our house, princesses have Ph.D's and Nobel Prizes and they get to wear crowns because they think math is cool, and their beauty comes from a deep love of science.

It's all about spin.

I have one word for you: Miyazaki. He did spirited away and howl's moving castle. Most of his protagonists are girls, most of the are complex and most of the kick ass. Kiki's delivery service is about a 13 year old with who has to find her way in the world (she can fly on a broom! but that's really all she can do). Noodle went into the princess stage due to unforeseen circumstances (presents from her paternal family) and we got her through it watching anime.

The Paper Bag Princess
Such an excellent book. No cure for cancer but she outwits the Dragon and tells the stupid Prince to go hang.

Vicky, I peeled those stickers off too. The tea set was a gift from the paternal grandparents.

Well I feel the same way about superheroes and Darth Vadar. I'm tired of my boys wanting every game to have "bad guys". I don't allow any tv, I don't have any character toys in the house, but yet in it comes. I finally relented to getting Rescue Heroes who are a bit milder and at least all "good guys".

I wonder how my mom kept Barbies and princesses out of my life. I played with baby dolls and Lego most of the time.

Hooray! Hooray to all the other moms like you and me who do not want this stuff in our house! I recently purchased a tea set and was loathe to find Cinderella's face plastered on it. I peeled all those stickers off! Anal? Yes. But I'm standing my ground to no princesses in our house, no clothes that yell DIVA! or anything else like that. It will come soon enough and I won't encourage it. I like my Red Sox hat wearing girl in her Darth Vader Halloween costume. I'm letting the dog be Princess Leia.

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