Princess syndrome: put a stop to this sexist behaviour
26 Jul 2018 FAMILY
By: Natasha Archary
The Princess syndrome is not doing little girls any favours. Instead it envelops them in this abnormal sense of entitlement, cushioning them from using their intelligence because Princesses get by for simply being exquisite and lavishly dressed. Able to get away with just about anything, these damsels have the boys wrapped around their dainty little fingers.
In a world so heavily influenced by superficiality and disingenuity, have you given much thought to your child’s viewing habits and how the shows they choose are influencing them?
Having recently attended a content collaboration between various media brands, it came as no surprise that many parents echo my sentiments with the kiddies programming bouquets.
Irresponsible, hogwash that is not age appropriate. But why do kiddies’ channels drive a similar narrative? Girls are Princesses and boys are the Knights. Because, naturally girls need rescuing from their own hair (Rapunzel). And our boys are just predisposed to rescue these Princesses.
As a parent, I have major issues with the hidden messages in animated content for my four-year-old. I don’t want my son to feed into this obsession that girls are meant to be saved and for him to believe he is there to do the saving.
It’s not a positive take for parents of both boys or girls. It’s a double-edged sword that categorises girls and boys as one or the other and that doesn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, my son will learn how to be a gentleman if I can help it. He will treat a little lady with respect and as his equal. But there’s no way that my son is going to wait hand and foot on a girl.
If he is to treat a female as his equal, he will not need to play chauffeur, cover all expenses she racks up nor excuse her lack of respect towards him. The Princess syndrome emasculates men and places women on pedestals with men besotted by nothing but their beauty. This will not be the future I prepare my son for. Nor the “equal” he grows to learn about. Regardless of the basic knowledge he gets from school, gender stereotypes are not an agenda he is going to learn to accept.
I’ve asked this question previously, we’re all advocating for the empowerment of women but who is preparing future men for these empowered women? As a single mother, I am all for the liberation, equality and empowerment of my gender. Peers and younger generation alike, I believe it’s important for women to take a stand and have their voices heard.
This does not mean however, that I am going to sit idly by whilst young women take for granted that their stereotypical behaviours are what’s expected off them in relation to my son’s role in this equation or the role of the future generation of men in general. Child psychologist Jennifer L. Hardstein believes the Kardashians have a similar influence. Hardstein finds that children are taking away unrealistic ideals from Disney Princesses that can affect their self-esteem at a later stage.
In her book “Princess Recovery: A how-to guide to raising strong, empowered girls, who can create their own happily ever afters”, the author notes the theory that Princesses can find love, security and eternal happiness, if they look a certain way and has fancy clothes.
Would the Prince have given Cinderella a second glance had she been covered in soot, adorning rags and accompanied by mice? Would Snow White have been as popular had she not been the fairest in the land? It’s why animated movies with a strong woman of colour as the lead don’t do well.
Take Moana for example. Here’s the Chief’s daughter, a fiesty teenager who questions the role she is set to take. She wants more, she craves adventure, to explore the unknown depths of the ocean. She didn’t just want to inherit the role of ruler of her people, she wanted to earn it. But the movie, according to Disney’s standards failed to reach debut numbers like Frozen did.
The film reached well over 8.1 million US dollars over the five-day thanksgiving weekend but just fell short of smashing the Frozen record. In total the movie raked in over 600 million US dollars globally but this figure did nothing to drive sales in the toy aisles. Which begs the question, are we not ready to deal with an empowered heroine of colour in the 21st century?
Are we forever going to compare little girls to Princesses and keep our boys subservient to their every whim? When do we teach our daughters to draw strength from within, to not rely on a man to rescue them and that their happily ever afters are not dependent on the perfect man who falls in love with her at first sight?
Because chances are, there are parents of little boys, like me, who are raising intelligent, young men who are not going to be fooled by the good looks, nails on fleek and a well adorned frame. Stop teaching girls that they can get by on their good looks. That by simply, smiling or giving a man a particular look, she can make him weak in the knees. This is exactly the kind of mindset that keeps us from breaking glass ceilings.