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If you have daughters, chances are you've faced the Great Princess Debate. After all, you can't walk into any toy or bookstore without being accosted by an army of tiara-clad lovelies hawking their wares. And despite my efforts not to succumb to the lure, when my daughters were little -- thanks to birthdays and holidays and well-meaning but often misguided relatives -- our lives looked as if Disney had puked princess paraphernalia all over the playroom. We had royal dress-up trunks and dolls, music boxes and books, and even a god-awful ugly, Magical Talking Make-up Station (um, thanks a lot Uncle Brian!). And that was before the introduction of the newest princess, Sofia.
As someone who’s seen her daughters come out the other side of princess obsession, let me offer this advice to all the anti-princess mamas who fear that Disney royalty is ruining their daughters. Relax! As far as obsessions go, I think princesses are pretty harmless. First of all, the princesses (most of them, anyway) are kind and good -- unlike the often spoiled stars of plenty of other kids’ literature and movies out there (Angelina Ballerina skips school and lies to her parents, and frankly they should have called it Diary of a Bratty Kid). Secondly, when your kid is playing princess, she's using her imagination and being creative and having fun. Those are all good, positive things, right? Finally, the princesses’ escapades can be excellent teaching moments: “Do you think that could ever happen in real life? What qualities do you think a real life princess should have? If you were a princess, what’s the first good deed you would do?” If you make it about fantasy and fun, you might be surprised at what comes of the conversation.
At the end of the day, her fascination with Snow White and Company is just a phase, one I don’t believe will irreparably harm her self-esteem or convince her that beauty trumps all other qualities especially since you’re there piping in about how smart and kind Belle is in addition to being pretty. The positive messages you feed her all day long definitely can’t be undone by a silly story or pair of plastic princess shoes. Just don’t buy her the Magical Talking Make-Up Station. Trust me when I tell you, it’s beyond creepy.