Is the Modern Day Princess Movement Missing It?

A few  years ago we witnessed the birth of a new princess–a real, born-into-royalty, princess whom we will likely spend the next several decades admiring. Princess Charlotte. Even her name reeks with royal beauty.

I’ll admit, I’ve done my fair share of crushing on the Royals. The weddings, the drama. . . it all seems so fairy tale-like you can’t help but watch it.

But I question what we mean when we use that word “princess” outside of the context of a little Brit in line for the throne.

Have we gotten this princess thing all wrong?

My examination of the princess movement’s effectiveness reached a new level a few years ago when I took my daughter (age four at the time) to a Barbie Princess Tea Party. The promotional event was intended to excite the media over Mattel’s new princess product line. The party epitomized a little girl’s dream–pinked out in every way imaginable from gorgeous fuschia florals to pastel pink candy decorations. Amidst the tiny white tea cups and delectable girly treats, like mini chocolate eclairs and cupcakes piled high with frosting, were dozens of little girls–wannabe princesses–wearing dresses that flowed over the seats that held their little bottoms.

Seconds before the event began, I noticed a frazzled mother enter the room with her two young daughters. She apologized for not arriving earlier as the hostess showed them to the only vacant seats. The hostess explained that all of the free Barbie dolls had been taken but loudly suggested that another girl at the table could share from her dolls.

The trio sat down and the mom beside them looked across the table to her daughters, each hoarding six dolls. She leaned in and whispered, “Why don’t you give these girls one of your dolls?”

The one daughter responded, “No way. They are mine. We got here first.”Princess Sash Compared to Who

The second daughter nodded in agreement.

The mom looked to the late-comers and shrugged. “Sorry, they don’t want to share.”

Indignation flooded me. I noticed several other moms preparing to stand up and go give these girls a doll from their family’s stash. Just in time, before I participated in a near-riot, the hostess righted the injustice by pulling out some dolls from a back room.

This was only the first demonstration of girls behaving badly I witnessed that morning. Pushing, shoving, and an overuse of the word “mine” in the rush to the goodie-bag table almost left my preschooler trampled by the stampede.

The only thing royal about these little girls were their bad attitudes. Instead of grace and poise, these girls defined princess as “I know I’m important and that’s what matters.”

As I drove home that afternoon, I tried to wrap my head around whether or not teaching my daughter to be a princess was actually a good thing. Yes, I want her to know her value. And, yes, as a Christ-follower, she is a child of the King with full inheritance–technically, a princess.

But, the princess movement, as ushered in by Disney, Barbie, and even the church, doesn’t seem to make any real difference in the lives of our girls. How is it that a whole generation of crown-wearing toddlers grew up to struggle–at higher rates than ever before–with body image issues, anxiety, and depression? How can it be that thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of little girls who once smiled at themselves as they twirled in the mirror, now find themselves in the throes of eating disorders or body dysmorphia?Is the Modern Day Princess Movement Missing it? Are our girls learning to be the wrong kind of princess

Should We Just Stop All the Princess Talk?

Do we need to turn away from all the princess propaganda? Is it time to reject the gowns and sashes and take down the “PRINCESS” signs from our daughter’s bedrooms?

I don’t think so.

Instead, we need to see where we’ve gotten the concept of princess all wrong.

The princess label that we’ve plastered all over our daughters feels like a self-esteem prank. One that covers them with sweet platitudes of their own greatness when they are little, but then lacks enough nutritional density to fill them up through high school. “You are a princess!” and an over-inflated sense of self holds little weight when other girls get mean and life gets hard.

The kind of princess we’ve encouraged our daughters to become is the wrong sort-of princess–one who acts more like a toddler-in-a-tiara than a confident queen-in-waiting. 

Princess Kate

© Intoit | Dreamstime.com

The princess we’ve asked them to embrace revels in her own reflection and thinks of herself before anyone else. She’s entitled, spoiled, and self-centered.

This is where we miss it. Narcissism is not what being a princess is about. At all.

The actual title of princess is bequeathed upon a young woman for one of two reasons. She is daughter of the King (or one who is in line for the throne) or she has married a prince. In either case, a princess isn’t royal because of her beauty, talents, or achievements.

A princess is only a princess because of her relationship with the sovereign.

Just like the new baby, Princess Charlotte. She’s got ten sweet little fingers and ten sweet little toes just like my friend Erin’s new baby, Kelsey. But, what distinguishes Kelsey from Princess Charlotte? It’s her proximity to the king.

And, that’s what being a princess is all about. The princess’ job, as a royal, is to serve at the mercy of the sovereign. Her life is devoted to service, not self-indulgence.

Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, participates in diplomatic events on behalf of the monarchy. She serves as they ask and instruct her to serve. Although she is gorgeous, stylish, looks amazing right after childbirth, and is by all accounts a wonderful lady, she’s not a royal because of her grace, beauty, or fashion sense. It’s her relationship to the throne that awards her that title.

While our modern twist on princess is inward in focus, build the girls’ self-esteem by telling her how intrinsically wonderful she is. God’s idea for the princess is quite different. The princess concept, the way the Bible intends it, is one of a daughter of the King finding her esteem in Him, not in herself. One who is fully dedicated in her service to Him and, as Proverbs 25:6 says, does “not exalt (herself) in the presence of the King.” Princess Compared to Who

This amazing truth has great potential to start a princess movement that could actually be effective.

If we taught our little girls to turn their eyes up to the King to find their value, how much more confident would they be as they grow?

If we encourage our daughters to pay less attention to cultivating their inner princess (or trying to be just like their favorite Disney version) and, instead, to dedicate every aspect of their lives to the serving Jesus, would we still have a generation of girls fretting over getting the perfect selfie?

We don’t need more of our culture’s version of the princess. If we want to grow real royals, girls who are confident and secure through adulthood, we need to lead them to the true King.

Are YOU raising a confident daughter? Take the Raising Confident Daughter’s Quiz by subscribing below! (Quiz link will be emailed to you after subscription is confirmed!)

Raising Confident Daughters Quiz from Compared to Who

Title graphic image © Valokuva | Dreamstime.com – Pretty Girl Dressed As Disney Frozen Princess Elsa Photo

4 Comments
  • Brandi
    May 6, 2015

    I think it has been great to have a young Princess again as it gives our daughters something besides a plastic version to look at. She wears real clothes and not just gowns, has flaws, has pictures floating around that are less than perfect, she serves others. She isn’t married to the most handsome man to be found, she is married to someone she loves. I think this is important for girls to see. I try to point out pics to my daughter or Kate doing service work and it truly mesmerizes her to see Kate serving others. And, of course, I talk to her about being a Daughter of the One True King. Thank you for the reminder that life is about more than self and being narcissistic.

  • Christine
    May 7, 2015

    I’ve watched the princess movement with my younger sister and my oldest daughter throughout many years. I’ve watched the ebbs and flows of this movement. I’ve seen the changes. Like you said, they aren’t good. Years ago the church tried to get in on the movement, but I think they lost focus, or at least it seemed that way. Before we knew it, they were doing things the same way as the world. I admit that I have not followed the royals, but I am mesmerized that I have a place in Christ’s lineage and am so thankful that my oldest daughter does, as well. Thank you, Heather, for such a refreshing take on what being a princess is really all about.

    • Heather Creekmore
      May 10, 2015

      You are exactly right! I think everyone turned it to “realize how awesome you are” instead of “focus on how awesome God is and serve him!” Thanks for your comment!!!

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