New Disney Princess Has People Missing the Point


Sofia the FirstIt's been a tough year for parents of little would-be princesses. They ask us, "Hey Mom, are princesses real?" and there's really no good answer. Princesses like they see in most Disney movies are decidedly not real, but now we've got the very real Kate Middleton out kissing babies with her hunky royal hubby. We can't say no, and we can't say yes, but help is on the way from a surprising place.

A new Disney princess will make her royal appearance in 2012. Word has it Sofia the First will come a lot closer to our real, live, in the flesh daughters than any of her predecessors.

The star of a fall 2012 TV movie and a Disney Junior show that will begin airing in 2013, Sofia is the daughter of a commoner who marries a king. She gets swept into royal life and has to deal with royal step-siblings. She will actually go to school and deal with boring old life issues like not fitting in in a new town and having a mom who's on her second marriage. So much for glitz and glamour, girls! This little princess is supposed to actually teach our girls something about real life.

And why not?

The righteous feminist backlash against Sofia has been predictably scoffing at the need for yet another princess in a world where t-shirts still tell girls they're too dumb to do their own math homework, so they might as well get back to the mirror and fix their makeup. As a mom, I'm as frustrated as the whole lot. It's hard to raise a smart girl in a society that wants to dumb her down.

But it's as the mother of a little girl who wants to grow up to be a princess and still kicks butt at math tests that I'm hopeful.

The assumption that "pretty and sparkly" = "stupid and constricting" is as dangerous as the notion that girls can only fit into the princess mold. If we tell our girls they can like poofy and pink and math and science and reading too, they will believe us. So why limit them? Why tell them they can't enjoy the fun and frivolous in addition to the more high brow pursuits?

As it stands, we know a lot of girls do love those princesses. It stands to reason that we can leverage that. If princesses are what little girls want, we need to give them princesses who also happen to embody the other values we want them to embrace.

I'm willing to give Sofia the First a chance if she can help show girls that princess means a whole lot more than a pretty dress. How about you?


Image via Disney Junior

books & media, girls


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Eques... EquestrianMom

I liked princesses. I wanted to be a ballarina too. I also loved biology, mucking horse stalls, was a certified welder by 15 yo, and worked on ranches. Often in my lace decorated split riding skirts. No one told me I couldn't be a tough princess! And so I am!

Awodash Awodash

Minnesota has a wonderful program where many young girls are introduced to real life princesses. I am fortunate to be one of these princesses.  We all represent our home town festivals by attending other festivals, galas, and coronations, being in parades, and doing wonderful things in our communities.  wearing fancy dresses and crowns, sashes, the whole works.  I love being out in public with the little girls who want their pictures taken with the princesses, telling us about how they want to be a princess too, and just seeing their faces light up! we are not beauty pagant queens or anything like that we are choosen becasue we are real girls and role models.  It is a great experience and a way to make little girl dreams come true!

Melis... Melissa042807

I like princesses, but come on, it's still not a "real life" story. How many of us are going to marry into royalty with our kids? It's still a fairy tale. And there's nothing wrong with fairy tales as long as kids know the difference. It's the inundation of them that starts to bug me. Like with my niece, EVERYTHING is princess-themed and it drives me nuts because much of that was forced upon her by her Disney-obsessed mother. Why can't you just let the little girl be who she is and decide what she likes instead of forcing princess princess princess down her throat all the time? 

JCKit... JCKitten87

about Melissa's comment^^^^ i actualy REFUSED to expose my daughter to disney princesses untill recently (3 1/2) but i do not make her watch any of the movies. she likes the barbie princess movie better which i like. i liked a lot of the princesses from disney movies as a kid but everything wasnt PRINCESS PRINCESS PRINCESS back then either. my daughter would rather have monkeys and cats, play in the dirt, run and jump. her favorite show is curious george and i think its great. she has her whole life to be girly if thats where it leads, shes 3 and should just be able to just be a little kid rather than thinking she should always wear poofy this and glittery that and not get dirty. if it was in her personality naturaly so be it but why force it :)

chris... chris2267

Tshirts that tell girls they ate too dumb for math? Really? Parents have to really stop relying on our society to raise our girls. While the princesses annoy me the tv can stay off or permanently tuned into national geographic or some other educational channel.

super... superchick_47

My two girls LOVE their Disney princess to the point that it gets a bit overwhelming, especially to me. I was a tomboy and I preferred playing with toy animals over dolls and watching Lady and the Tramp rather than Cinderella. But I don't see any reason to discourage them. I've explained that in our country (US), we don't have royalty and anyone can grow up to be president or whatever else they want. I see the princess thing as a fun escape from real life, just like when grown women watch chick flicks. We know they aren't real, but it's fun to pretend. And I like that this new princess is more realistic in terms of having a blended family and dealing with moving to a new town and issues like that.

PoeDu... PoeDunkMae

We never really did the whole "princess" thing until my daughter turned 3 and a half to 4.  She picked it up on her own we didnt' shove it on her.  She loves Princesses, but thank GOODNESS she isn't as psychotic over them as some little girls I've seen! WOW! Her room isn't all PRINCESS PRINCESS she has ONE Princess blanket, and a tinker bell chair.  Like 2-3 shirts and a couple pairs of jammies with princesses on them and some Princess undies.  And 2 pairs of tennis shoes with princesses (one was a gift to her so she ended up with 2 pairs).  She has friends that literally have pink and princess dripping from their room and dtheir bodies from head to toe.  My daughter isn't obsessed with watching princess movies ALL the time, maybe a couple times a week.  Instead?  She's REALLY into dinosaurs with her little brothers! And science, and outer space.  I LOVE IT! I totally encourage her to explore and learn. BUT when she wants to play and pretend and be a Princess?  I'm there with a Princess dress and home made glitter tiara for her! I was never a big "girly girl" and I don't think my daughter will be either, but when she wants to be a Princess, we'll let her.  WHen she wants to play in the mud and ride her spider man bike?  We'll let her and cheer her on no matter what she's doing! We will always tell her she is SMART, and KIND and hard working, and BEAUTIFUL. 

Tracys2 Tracys2

I'm not sure about the Sophia thing. I don't like Disney veyr much. I'm trying to think about one girl on their shows that is princessy AND tough with atypical interests. Yes, they can be pretty doctors, but they don't play in the mud and do karate and like dinosaurs. They are 95% likely to be intellectual- yes, but also wear frilly dresses all the time and keep clean and cook and love ballet and play piano and sing prettily and do nice crafts, while the boys are leaders. If Disney can ever break that and have even just one character like the Backyardigans Uniqua who has interests on both sides of the stereotypical line, it would be better.

My older daughter went NUTS for princesses. I kept them away, but then she saw her cousin's at age 2 or 3 and that is the only thing she has wanted since. Pink and princesses. I've tried to push her in other directions her whole life, because I hate pink and love dirt and bikes and math and science and computers and swords. I'd love to see her branch out, but I don't have much faith that any Disney princess will be a Uniqua and play in the mud and fly airplanes and become a musketeer and generally be awesome

mamma... mammajigglypuff

Maybe I don't get it but the "Disney Princesses" seem like a bunch of smart yet feminine women.

I mean let's face they are always outsmarting a bunch of guys. I think today's Princesses teaches girls they can be smart and pretty.

It's the politically correct that make a big deal out of it.

nonmember avatar stella

what's wrong with letting a 3-4 year old like princesses? everyone points their finger at disney about the princesses, about them being all grily and silly. not all are like that. example:
1: tiana (princess and the frog) she clearly stated to her mother that she didn't want a husband or heck even a boyfriend. she wanted to open her restrant. so she does marry a prince but that didn't stop her.
2: rapunzel (tangled) she was brave enough to take that first step out into the world.
3: brave (new pixar/disney flim for 2012 summer) from what i've seen in previews and heard this new princess is a tomboy. she likes raiding and archery and all the non girly stuff.
there are other princesses out there than disney princesses. what about fiona from sherk? she was waiting for her "prince" true but that didn't mean she was going to take the waiting sitting down. she can take care of herself.

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