. . . backyard. You were so certain I was going to say, “bar,” weren’t you? Nah. These were princesses in training—ages not even in the double digits yet. We’ll call them Candace and Sarah.
So, as I was saying—two princesses walked into a backyard. Mine, to be exact. Both in their floral dresses, twirling their skirts.
And, despite my best efforts not to listen as they petted the royal dog (why yes, it IS my Bailey—how did you guess?), I could not help but overhear.
“But Sarah, which of these two boys will you marry?” asked Candace.
“I don’t know,” said Sarah, looking unconcerned. “I don’t know if I want to get married anyway.”
“Well, you know, they may not marry you because you’re not tall,” warned Candace.
“I don’t care about being tall,” said Sarah. “And I’m still growing.”
“But you’re also kind of a tomboy,” said Candace. “And boys like girls who go to spas and put cucumbers on their eyes to keep away the wrinkles.”
“Let’s go play something,” said Sarah.
As I silently applauded the wisdom of Sarah’s five years of life, I simultaneously wondered where in the world Candace was getting her intel from. Didn’t take me long to figure that one out. It’s us, people. Maybe not you and I, but society in general.
Have you seen a model less than six feet tall on any major runway recently? Or one that is larger than a toothpick? The world is changing—coming in all shapes and sizes, like it or not—but our commercials, our fashion mags and jock culture? Those seem to stagnate, unfortunately.
When our president mocks women for their looks and praises a foreign leader’s wife for her physical shape, I wonder if the Candaces of the world will ever get straight.
And yet . . . look at this:
Wonder Woman meets a young female fan who can’t stop crying. She has met her idol—in the flesh—and is overwhelmed.
Man, do we need Wonder Woman right about now. To ensure our five- and six-year old girls are not looking ahead to a life filled with cucumber therapies. And wondering which boy will marry them. Ugh.
A female warrior—one who is strong but also tempered by emotion, who fights for what is right, who is confused by a patriarchy that makes no sense—now that is a role model worth showing our girls.
It’s time to redefine our idea of a princess.
And it sure beats cucumbers on the eyes.
32 Comments Add yours
Well said, sister!
“one who is strong but also tempered by emotion, who fights for what is right, who is confused by a patriarchy that makes no sense”
Agree to this on all counts.
Love this post, but also the quality of your commenters Kristine. I’m not as downbeat as some. The girls and young women that I’m acquainted with seem confident and well-balanced, well able to forge their own way without falling under the spell of our sometimes alarming example-setters. And at least the lads won’t be trying to emulate Trump anytime soon.
Now, I thought that ‘somebody went into a bar’ jokes were a staple of British stand-up comedy. Clearly I’m wrong 🙂
I love the girls that are smarter than the crap that we throw at them :-). I’m glad to hear that there a good number in your corner of the world! And those bar jokes? They run rampant here :-). I guess cheesy humor knows no global boundaries.
I don’t know where our young girls will find what you described so well “…sne who is strong but also tempered by emotion, who fights for what is right, who is confused by a patriarchy that makes no sense…” with the power of our culture and society against them. Sometimes, teaching, I’d see a young girl with that sort of spunk, but usually it began to disappear in middle school. I, too, had my moments of being a Candace, but my mom counterbalanced that tendency somewhat. My sisters and I remember that she never told us we were pretty, gave us makeup advice, or asked who our boyfriends were. Instead, she told us we were intelligent, hardworking and capable and encouraged our progress in those areas. Still, we all tried to conform with our peers at times. It’s tough, and I don’t think it’s any easier for girls now.
Your mother sounds a lot like mine :-). I think mothers like that I want of the purest antidotes to the crazy messages society sentence. And I agree-even those girls to start out as warriors tend to lose their spunk in middle school when they are somehow judged by a different barometer. I am hoping with concentrated effort, we can change that. Those messages imprinted on young minds are hard to get rid of in later years.
I think a couple of my granddaughters are staying strong because of their involvement in sports and self-assured women coaches, something that was non-exiistant in my day.
Thank goodness for Title IX!
Very interesting post and comments. Amy’s first comment about the little girl who wanted to be like Madonna is interesting. In actual fact Madonna got to where she did through sheer hard work. The celebrity status is portrayed in the media through how they look and how much money they have instead of how hard they had to work to get there. Kids are seeing the finished article there is no depth portrayed. This makes role models look shallow, where in actual fact they are just as deep and human as we are. So is society at fault or just the way our society is portrayed by the media? 🙂
Both:). The media makes superstars out of people who probably don’t deserve it–the Kardashians, et al. And we’re at fault because we pay attention. I’ll take Sara Bareilles over Madonna for girls any day. And I think this is less about how they got to where they are than the fact that Madonna marketed herself through sex. A lot. And a lot of little girls were watching, seeing “our” approval, and taking notes. The wrong notes. It should be about talent, what’s inside, who you are. Not red lips, bustiers and the shock factor.
It quite literally breaks my heart to think of the Candaces out there…. In 1984, I was teaching 2nd grade in a private school. One of the darling little girls in my class came to school one morning and put on lipstick she had smuggled in her pocket from home. She tied her shirt up tight to expose her midriff. When I asked her about her new look, she said she wanted to be just like Madonna. And my heart crumpled…. It was an eye-opener for me to see firsthand how insidious modern culture can be, robbing children of their birthright: childhood. This has been going on for such a long time, and it’s escalating at an alarming rate with kids’ increasingly earlier exposure to technology. It twists my heart to think of children who believe going to the spa for a cucumber facial is the only way to assure their personal desirability. It irks me that grown women model the spa mentality, chasing after youth long flown. The good role models are out there, but they’re few and far between. I honestly have no answers but can only nod my head vigorously with you in agreement: It’s time to redefine our idea of a princess.
Even now, at my age, having worked in the marketing communications field–I have trouble tuning out the barrage of messages. Can you imagine what soaks in at five or six? And without the savvy to see you’re being sold a bill of goods? Ugh. Your story brings it home. I can’t wait to see more strong women and supportive men craft stories, images and characters around women whose beauty goes more than skin deep.
Love this, Sarah sounds like she’s starting from a great point, but I hope Candace finds a good role model soon!
That’s the odd part. They both seem to have lovely mothers–and yet one picks up on every stereotype and the other defies them. Go figure!
The role model should be us. The mom of these little girls. It all starts in the home. They are watching us more than we’d like to think. Everything you want to see in your daughter, model it first in you. Great post!
I don’t have any daughters to model for, but I sure do try to model anyway:). You never know who is watching! While I agree mothers, aunts, sisters make great role models–I think the silver screen needs to represent for little girls also. Everybody needs a superhero that looks like them:).
Yes, absolutely agree!
Lord, I love that clip. I’ve loved everything about Gal Gadot’s WW, even the backlash (which did nothing but show how stupid men can be). Things are changing. Too slowly, but at least they _are_ changing.
I did not understand the backlash at all. Representation on screen matters so very much–how do you find fault with giving little girls a strong role model?!
Some people just want to win, to be top rail, to maintain power. They don’t realize that when more people have power, we all benefit. Or maybe they DO realize that, and just don’t want to share. For me, it’s been wonderful to see how young girls have fallen in love with being powerful.
If we can indeed get all our little ones to think for themselves, we’ll have a better world, Kay.
And if we can keep them from growing up as quickly as they seem to have to now-I think that would be a very good thing, Mark.
You are so right, my friend.
Sorry to poke you in the eye with another cucumber Kristine, but I’m afraid there is one thing missing in our future. No role models.
All we have now are lines we are afraid to cross because they are sexist or bigoted etc…AND…even being forced to be neutered in filling out a form.
Don’t get me wrong, they have a place, but the rebound is going waaaay too far.
The children are growing up in a very poor world that is diminishing what it means to live in your heart. There is less and less respect and appreciation because they have not been shown a balance in life and the wisdom that goes with it.
An example…if you put your hand in the fire, it will burn you. You respect and appreciate that and don’t put your hand in there again.
But if I give you a fire proof glove, you will play in it, dance with it and even tease it.
And the glove that this society has given our children, is the glove of non accountability. And in doing so we have a generation of very spoilt and ‘give me, give me’ children who will eventually lead our countries in all those ways.
Your princesses are growing up too soon with all the inputs this world gives…but not tempered with the wisdom it requires. And all too soon we read about their exploits of how they tried to be princesses with promises abounding, but end so disastrously with drugs and alcohol because their emotional capacity to comprehend this new world does not go hand in hand together.
Yes, we live to learn…but if the heart does not walk by your side…what then the balance that life needs.
Great post my friend…may your princesses and princes find that path. Your royal dog is already there 😀 ❤
I agree that the World comes at our children too fast and too soon. I tried so very hard to protect my sons’ childhoods and have them be in the world but not necessarily of it. We throw the adult bits at them far too soon with far too little wisdom.
As adults we most certainly do our best to shield them Kristine, but the technology side is outpacing our protection I be thinking.
I actually feel sorry for those princesses, all too soon their princes rock up in a V8 and dare them to be wild.
Yes times change, but for some reason this change seems to be becoming a bit lopsided. Hopefully its just a catch up phase 😀
Great post Kristine! It’s so true what you have said, but I’m not sure if we can ever stop creating Candace or Sarah in this world. We like judging and separating people too much, and from those labels, we learn to identify which one we belong too and somewhere along the way that makes us feel better?? It’s only when you break free and throw the cucumbers away, that we discover our true identity and know our true purpose! 👍💕
Oh, I hear you. And particularly right now in the States, we are struggling with labels. Those of us who believe in the collective good see them as divisive. And those who want them, want them deeply. Here’s to ditching those cucumbers :-). And soon!