The opinions expressed below about The Princess Problem are my own. I was not given anything or asked by anyone to read or review this book. I happened upon this book when I read an article here.
So I finished the The Princess Problem and returned it to the library. I mentioned it in my post here. That was actually quick for me. I guess it is the time limit with the library and all that puts a fire under me. That and I was very interested in the subject matter. I’m currently in the middle of two other books and my magazines are stacked up pretty high now.
You might be wondering why I’m writing about this and how it ties in with my other posts. Well having kids has been a dream of mine for a while and like most parents I don’t want to screw them up. Then there is the kind of races my husband and I like to do. Going to Disney races and the parks exposes us all to all kinds of consumerism and fandoms. We want to be smart about it.
I saw the title of the book in the article and thought that it was such a wonderful coincidence that one of my recent posts was about princesses. I decided to read The Princess Problem, and I would say overall it was a good book. It gave me a lot of things to think about when my kids watch TV or movies. It had some good points for both girls and boys. I think I mentioned before that I think I was blessed with boy/girl twins. I think that it really helps with balance. That is not to say there are not issues. I actually thought that we were all good here with the princess thing until my daughter told me one day all she wanted to be when she grew up was a princess. However when my son listed off the different things he wanted to be when he grew up, my daughter chimed in on how much she wanted to help with his endeavors. He wants to have a farm with a playground that has a building where you can get your teeth fixed and shop for books while you wait. When you are done you can eat the food grown at the farm at the restaurant and listen to live music. Sounds good to me!
I like some of the children books and shows Dr. Hains recommends in her book. I looked up several of the books at our local library. We are currently reading Not All Princesses Dress in Pink and Shades of People. I have a lot of others on my “For Later” shelf with my library. We like both of these books. We check out anywhere from eight to fifteen books at a time. My kids LOVE books especially my son. I try to touch up on some issues I want to expose them to and then they always play in the kids area at the library for a bit. They always find some books they want on their own. When they find a good one I just can’t refuse them.
You may be wondering about the Shades of People book and how it ties in with the princess problem. Dr. Hains doesn’t just hit gender roles but she also talks about racism in the princess world. My kids go to a preschool at our church and it is quite diverse I am happy to say. The kids haven’t had any issues so far. I think that preschool has been great for them.
When I first started to read The Princess Problem I was worried it was going to tell me that I need to dress my daughter in all grey and promote only neutral toys and activities. I wasn’t for that. I want my daughter to be herself if that means she likes pink (which she does) or if she likes black, green or any other color that exits, then so be it. So I liked this quote from the book. I posted it once before and I want to post it again.
The goal is not to persuade girls that princesses are bad or to “de-princess” them. Rather, it is to help girls reason through the problems with princesses and see that there are many other ways to be a girl – to help unfetter their imaginations and help them dream a multiplicity of dreams.
I liked that. I grew up like that. I had Barbies but I didn’t want to look like her. I just thought the doll was fun. I would put a few in a bag and throw them over my shoulder so I could have my hands free to climb trees. Once safely perched on a branch some of my Barbies would climb tall “buildings” to sneak in and steal jewels while the other Barbies would investigate the crime. They would eventually crack the case and catch the cat burglars (I think my imagination was inspired by watching a lot of Remington Steele with my parents. I love me some Pierce Brosnan).
I also liked Dr. Hains’ suggestion about being a good “pop culture coach.” When I think about it my Mom did this. She would always make comments to us kids about the different shows we watched together. She did a lot of co-viewing with us.
Recap: Pop Culture Coaching In Four Steps
- Identify your family’s values.
- Establish a healthy media diet for your children.
- Watch and talk about media content with your children.
- Teach your children about media creation.
Now with twins or higher order multiples (triplets or higher) we worry about socializing our kids just like anybody else. We sometimes forget though that our kids need other friends. They were kind of born with a built-in best friend, but just like singleton children, all siblings need friends outside the family. It is nice I have a boy and a girl so it doesn’t seem unusual to them to play with someone of the opposite sex. However with us, it is a nice change of pace to actually play with someone of the same-sex. I was happy to see this line in the book. It made me really happy that my kids can play so well together and enjoy some of the same things.
Having friendships with the opposite sex in childhood makes us better romantic partners later on – better able to understand and relate to one another.
Again, I thought of my Mom. She is a bit of a geek. She loves Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, etc. I grew up loving Star Wars and Star Trek. I never even knew there was any kind of rivalry because we loved both in our house. My Mom also loved fantasy and sci-fi books. She read all the Dune books. She loves Robert A. Heinlein and Terry Brooks. I think sometimes geeks have an easier time with relating to each other due to the love of the fandom. My husband and I went to see Suicide Squad on my birthday at my request. Let me tell you, he had no problem with that.
My son’s favorite color is dark purple. He likes coloring his toe nails his favorite color and why not? It is fun. My daughter likes to sword fight with my son and she likes playing with my son’s Hulk and Spider-man dolls. She has some super hero girl dolls but she still likes playing with the boy dolls as well. By boy dolls I don’t mean dolls that are meant for boys. I mean dolls that are male. I’m happy to say that they share a lot of each others toys. We did recently give them their own rooms. When I separated the toys I did not think of gender so much. I thought more about what each child likes. I actually left some girl dolls in my sons room that I knew he liked. My daughter likes Legos better so she got them. I also told them to be sure to still share.
Since I do have twins I would like to touch on the “alpha twin.” There seems to always be one no matter what sex the set is. If you ask any member of my multiples group with boy/girl twins I’m sure every single one will tell you that the girl is the alpha twin. I’m not saying that is true for everybody but just me and the club members I’ve talked to so far. These girls always seem to know how to be strong get attention in their own unique way. That isn’t to say the boys are not strong. They are. I guess the best way to describe it is that each child can “hold their own.”
I did not one hundred percent agree on the interpretation of some of the Disney stories in The Princess Problem. One of my favorite classes in college was creative writing. We would write a story and turn it into the teacher with a disc for him to print off several copies for everyone in the class to read. During class we would dissect the story and talk about what it meant to us. I wrote a sci-fi/horror story one time. I wanted to discuss moral issues and just the sheer horror and grossness of the science experiment in the story. Some of my classmates saw more political undertones that I had never even considered. At the end of class the author had the option to reveal themselves to the class or stay anonymous. I always liked to reveal myself to discuss some more of the topics that I did not intend to put in my story. It was very interesting and eye-opening when it comes to writing something and putting it out for the world to interpret.
Now with that said, I have to say if you go looking for a problem you are almost always going to find one. Beauty and Beast for instance is not one of the stories I saw that had a big problem. I always thought that the witch or fairy changed the prince into a beast because even though he was a handsome prince, he was ugly on the inside. She wanted to teach him a lesson by making his outside match his inside. If he changed enough on the inside to get someone to love him, the curse would be broken. Belle comes along and even though the Beast was socially awkward due to his appearance, he had changed for the better with the help of his staff who was also cursed. Now to paraphrase what was in The Princess Problem, because I forgot to get a screen shot before I turned the book back into the library, the Beast was verbally and emotionally abusive until Belle came along to help change him for the better. Basically the theory is that the story is sending a message that a good girl can change a bad boy. So girls will stick with an abusive boyfriend in hopes that he will change. Honestly I never saw that in the story. I guess I can see how one could interpret it that way. I suppose that is why we have to be careful. I can co-view with my children and give them my interpretation of it or say nothing and hope they see the same thing.
I enjoyed reading the book and I liked all the resources Dr. Hains listed. If you want to learn more I’m sure you can purchase the The Princess Problem from Amazon or get it from your local library. Dr. Rebecca Hains also has a website.
Edit: My daughter now wants to be a Mom who paints.