Is “princess culture” bad for girls?

Parents, try all you want, you can’t protect your daughters forever from the onslaught of the royal marketing machine. Here’s a story from our producer Marc Sanchez that inspired one of our upcoming shows:

On September 25, 2011, life with my 2-year-old daughter couldn’t have been more blissful. She had been a fairly good sleeper as an infant, didn’t really cry much, and had a budding vocabulary. But on September 26th, a new word entered her lexicon: princess.

Not only that, but she strung it together in this turn of phrase: “I love the princess.” The sentence made me take a seat. Who was “the princess?!?” I thought about ignoring it… maybe she’ll forget.

She didn’t.

I had spent the previous two years sweeping princess-related toys, books, and garb out of sight. I was like a princess mine-sweeper running recon missions on grocery store aisles – chucking tiaras and flipping over sparkling toddler t-shirts. Even before she was born, my wife and I peppered conversations with friends and family about how we weren’t comfortable with princess role models.

Who told her about “P” word, I wondered. It couldn’t have been her grandparents… or could it? It couldn’t have been her daycare… but maybe. And it definitely wasn’t my wife or I… but was it?

With a couple more years of wisdom under my belt, I have been able to accept that princesses are everywhere. It’s my job to navigate how often, and in what context, they enter my daughter’s world. Honestly, she’s just as happy making mud pies or learning about volcanoes as she is donning a silky princess costume.

My run-in with royalty is probably why a recent Atlantic article by Andy Hinds caught my attention. Hinds and his wife were of a similar mindset, but they were getting hit twice as hard from their twin 3-year-old girls. Just plug “television” or “sugar cereal” or “trying out for the football team” into the equation instead of princess, and watch the mighty cliffs of parental morality slowly erode.

What’s your take?

We’re going to talk about Disney, princesses, and girls on February 21.