Coming to terms with the princess thing

Okay so I admit it. We’re snotty. We didn’t want our kids to be your ordinary, run of the mill Disney fairy princesses, with the sparkles and the scratchy tulle and the strap-on wings that flew here directly from Dongguan Province (like magic!) and landed in the local Target.

Nate decided they should be Renaissance princesses. Mommy the feminist gave in. And with the help of some dresses we already owned, a visit to the Renaissance faire this summer, and a thrift shop pashmina torn in two, we had princesses.

Presenting Hermia and Helena. 

The crazy thing is, I loved it.

Sure, they weren’t as original as the kid dressed like a Metro Card machine, and they didn’t garner the attention of the kid who was the A Train. (Subway humor is big in New York.) But they felt beautiful. They were happy. And that made me happy.

I guess this is just the beginning of that whole thing whereby parents give up their dreams for their kids, when they realize their kids have dreams of their own.


32 thoughts on “Coming to terms with the princess thing”

  1. GAh! You're killing me! They're beautiful and I think I'm having daughter envy. 😉 Very sweet post, Liz. I relate in the sense of being the feminist mother coming to terms with my sons' penchants for swords and tackling and trucks. They are who they are and we honor it, right?

  2. I feel like I write about this all the time. I have such issues with this. TD was Strawberry Shortcake this year and it killed me.

    To make it less cookie cutter I dyed her hair hot pink vs. buying that $40 nylon wig that freaked me out. Then I did old style strawberry shortcake face make up.

  3. Mother's of boys have a similar/different problem. A scary store-bought mask and hockey jersey does not a costume make. I insisted that they put some thought into their costumes, only my 11 came through in the 11th hour. The other two were gory make-up boy and dirtbike-helmet wearing skeleton. Sigh … Love your princesses.

  4. This is about where I got to, once Pumpkinpie turned 3 and got all girly, dropping Bob the Builder in favour of princesses. As long as they aren't all Disneyfied, I'm okay. So she has crowns in her costume box as well as hard hats, a wand as well as a tool belt, but it's not a prepackaged image of princesshood, it's one built in her mind and dressed with what she can find that makes her feel the part. I think that's just dandy.

  5. My 8yo wanted to be a witch but not an ugly scary witch. Wha? I couldn't agree to the kinder-whore witch costumes I saw in the catalogs but did agree to a less “ugly” witch outfit that we pulled together. I think there are ways we can make them happy without totally giving up our values—-looks like you guys did it right. The girls look adorable.

  6. great job Liz. that's my costume philosophy too; let the kids decide what they want to be, and then make something crafty and funky and not licensed by Disney or manufactured by a worker who's basically enslaved in a factory … ok, enough environmental high horse. we had the “mom, why can't we just BUY a costume from the store?” talk this year with Everett and there were only minor eye-rolls.

    and he was Obi-wan Kenobi, but it was my interpretation, and really, best costume ever 😉

  7. My daughter was a princess, too. Her costume was a snow-white-style dress up dress, and when she arrived at our neighbors doors, they asked, Oh, are you Snow White?

    Her look was withering.

    No. she said, I am me.

    (Mommy was proud of that answer.)

  8. They look FAB – what a great idea! And Shakespearean princesses would kick Disney princesses' asses any day!

  9. My favorite feminist friend told her young niece that princesses are people who ask for what they want. “Take a princess bite” of food means take a big bite. You can't fight the princess thing, she says, but you can twist it.

  10. They look beautiful! Way to work within the zone of princess – but keep it your own. My Pixie wanted to be Tinkerbell. What the heck is up with costumes that have a picture of the thing it is on the front? Several Tinkerbell costumes I saw had a big picture of her on the front – huh?

    We did go with the tulle costume and wings – but it was more fairy like, no stupid pictures…

  11. I am NOT looking forward to all the pretty pretty princess crap in the years to come. While I myself adore pink pink pink…I just can't get into the super girly kiddie stuff. This year the babe was “dressed” (sorta) as an accessory to our costume, next year we'll probably do something similar. Might as well take full advantage while they have no real opinions on the subject…YET!

  12. Gorgeous! They look like angel princesses.

    I had two little Jedi in home-made costumes. Mostly because I can't bear the gross feeling of the cheap fabric on the pre-mades.

    They might play with light sabers a lot, but at least dancing is still just as popular (and highly encouraged.)

  13. lovely costumes for lovely girls.
    (this year my pet peeve has been the explosion of slutty costumes in kid's sizes. UGH.)

  14. My youngest insisted on being a princess too. For me, the decision to go 'renaissance' was based more on temperature than my dislike of Disney. I was able to decorate a long velvet dress from Value Village with scarves and skirts, and she could wear a full suit of clothes under. My efforts, however, were nowhere near as cute as this. Well done!

  15. Cid points out that, yes, mothers of boys have a similar problem, but in a different costume: GORE! WEAPONS! GORE! CAPES! GORE! WEAPONS! BULGING EYEBALLS! GORE! Or of course, superheros. boooring… but…yes, they loved it. And I resign myself to a Halloween world filled with fake blood, armaments that would make a four-star general green with envy, and a trick-or-treating saga filled with blam! blam! blam!

  16. I am a HUGE feminist who will not know what to do with herself if her son becomes some uber sexist male. But I have two favorite accessories: a plaque that says “Indulge the princess within” and a framed print that says, “I'm fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara I could save the world.” I'm convinced you can be a feminist while still relishing in the magic of what being a princess (or queen) has to offer – namely, the belief that you can do anything because you ARE royalty of one kind or another. And your girls are just gorgeous!

  17. Luckily, my girls childhood came before the over disney-fication of little girl princesshood. I made a princess costume from a white sweatshirt (small adult size), with a 1950's crinoline sewn on, (waistband folded and stitched just under the arms of the shirt). We applied as much sparkly puffy paint and glitter as we could manage. One or the other girl wore that costume for the next 10 years! The addition of glitter and ribbons of various colors, tiaras, wings, wands, veils, scarves allowed them to be any combination of fairy/princess/good witch/bride they wanted.

    Gradually, the crinoline was unstitched and resewn lower on the shirt. One of them wore it in high school. When we were cleaning out the house in preparation for our overseas moved, one of them took it to her apt. In case she needed a costume.

    Also: get the book “The Tough Princess” by Martin Waddell a lovely book about a princess who saves herself.

  18. Ada was late to the princess obsession, but now it is upon us. I think it started with the disney princess undies someone gave her.

    Last year Ada chose to be a bat for Halloween. This year she opted for ghost. This week she said: “next year I want to be a princess for Halloween”. Oh well, it is better for me to let it run its course, so long as I don't have to help disney make more money in the process.

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