Thursday, October 16, 2014

Princess Culture

Essays on princess culture make me hyper-aware that there are some apparently crucial aspects of girlhood I completely missed. (Granted, I didn't know who Lisa Frank was until I was thirty-five.)

Raise your hand if you had no interest in being a princess.

Most of it, I think is generational. I was already well into my teens when The Little Mermaid debuted. Fairy tales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty I deemed "baby" before kindergarten, so that was that. And the sole real life princess I could identify was Diana. I remember watching the royal wedding out of  a sense of daughterly duty, but I didn't get it. I didn't get why I was supposed to be obsessed with this particular fantasy.

I didn't eschew all fantasy play. I loved anything with a witch in it. I flew my star wars characters around in a Barbie beauty salon pretending it was their spaceship. I wanted to be a rock star and tied scarves around a broom handle to play that I was Steve Tyler. When I didn't want to be a rock star, I wanted to be an MTV Vee-Jay like Downtown Julie Brown.

None of these things seem out of the realm of typical 80s childhood, so my guess is that it is generational. In that respect, I'm glad my girlhood wasn't sponsored by Disney, but as Laurie Penny stated in her book, every girl has a princess in her head. Mine was misplaced at the factory.

Another thing that most women neglect to mention is how class and femininity are intrinsically tried. Girl stuff is consumer stuff. There were few "girly girls" in my neighborhood. I didn't even here the phrase "girly girl" until I was in my twenties. Had I as a six or seven year old, worn a tiara or a tutu to school, I would have gotten my ass kicked. (Actually, the nuns at my school would have slapped me with a dress code violation first.)

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