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I Know I Will Be A Feminist Mom, But What If My Daughter Wants To Be A Princess?

I think the title of my piece may already have rubbed some the wrong way- but this piece shall NOT be defensive. I am not going to qualify my choice nor justify my fear (if that), as evinced in the title! So, all those swearing their allegiance to the right to self-expression (no matter what the mode be) or holding up their pink placards, with an increased emphasis on teaching women to ‘BE’ who they want while also teaching them to transcend social constructs and convention, well, take a walk.


Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

As a post-modern progressive liberal and well, a feminist, I already know everything you shall have to say. So, there’s no need to hash out the discourse, turn it into a debate (as is deemed fashionable on the internet, nowadays) and waste each other’s time. I will get straight to the point- and no, you do NOT have to agree with me. Isn’t that the whole agenda, anyway?

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So, here’s the rub. Oops, that wasn’t deliberate, I swear. I know I am going to be a feminist mom because spawning someone who isn’t gender-neutral and believes in equality of the sexes seems like a nightmare! Of course, I know that it does NOT mean it can’t come true and of course, I also know the onus to drill into him/her the definition of gender as a social construct would rest on my shoulders! But here’s what drives me up the wall- while I feel pretty confident I can bear that responsibility, I am not quite sure what happens when your daughter nods in agreement, while dressing herself in a life-sixed version of the gown her pretty pink Barbie is wearing!

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Okay- I am not crazy. I just happen to have friends who have already hijacked my Facebook feed with pictures of one and two-year old adorbs who are ‘princesses!’ Don’t take me wrong- I have nothing against parents who can choose to shower affection whichever way they deem fit- only I find the trend quite alarming. The pictures of young children wanting to be an Elsa or Sophie or Snow White, simply because they look a certain way (and I am consciously omitting ‘pretty’) is alarming. Our culture’s amplified insistence on superficial beauty standards soaked in by the sponge-like minds of kids as young as two years of age haunts my days and nights!

Not that I wish to dress my daughter in taupe, give her non-specific wooden toys whittled by elves, restrict her exposure to harmful media messages or send her to some hippy Waldorf school where gender binaries are a fantasy- but I do wish to teach her all about stereotypes early on in life. I want her to be able to possess the discretion to choose between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and identify the fine line. I want her to be able to take pride in who she is, just as she is rather than subscribing to a set of ‘beauty ideals’ that aren’t just unrealistic but propound a self-defeating sense of self-worth. And nobody, I dare repeat, nobody can say I am wrong in expecting that!

Needless to say, that if the feminist mom in me would be challenged by a daughter who chooses everything pink, spark-ly and glittery without knowing the hegemonic claim it’s making on her young, gullible mind- I wouldn’t know what to do.

What will happen if my daughter insists on being a part of this pandemic? What will happen if she seems intent on making our house the exclusive diarrhea-chamber of Disney? What will happen if she clutters my home with Disney dresses, sweatshop-produced plastic toys and Barbies?

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A million answers pop to mind. I could, for starters, just deny to buy her this stuff. But on second thoughts, I don’t think I’d have the heart to do that. Also, I don’t think I can force her to follow my moral compass. I’d like her to learn, sure, but I shall not impose my belief systems on her.

Second, I could simply try (as I have always planned) to explain to her the million dollar propaganda machinery of the princess culture, how her beloved Disney’s built an empire round it and how it benefits from young girls like her buying into their ideology? I do not know how successful I’d be but try I will.

My reasons are simple. Well-intentioned. Meritorious.

I do not want my daughter to be captivated by the corporate cacophony of commercialism nor do I want her innocent obsession to be stripped of all ethical and emotional consideration. If only my daughter would tell me she were interested in a Belle because she’s a ‘savior,’ or an Elsa because she’s ‘kind,’ I would possibly be able to take ‘kindly’ to the explosive pink-vomit in my home myself! But the idea that she wouldn’t be able to move beyond the aesthetic the princesses are presented with and get caught up in princess fashion without any thoughts for the ethics of princessdom is scary as f*ck!

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Because as much as I appreciate a beauty revolution in the toy industry with more omni-racial samples, more inclusive body types, more realistic beauty standards, I don’t think a doll with greasy hair and pimples or one in coveralls is the solution! There’s a whole section of more ‘appealing’ voices calling out to our young girls, ready to pump them with the ‘pretty in pink’ and ‘perfect, if a ___ way’ message. And I surely wouldn’t know what I’d tell my five-year old if she ever asked me why she doesn’t look just like Barbie when she’s wearing exactly the same things?

Tell me, what’s a feminist mom to do. She’s a feminist, alright, but she’s also a mom!

If only the CIA learnt interrogation strategies from kids!

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
I Know I Will Be A Feminist Mom, But What If My Daughter Wants To Be A Princess?
I know I'll be a feminist mom because spawning someone who isn’t gender-neutral and believes in equality of the sexes seems like a nightmare! But what if...
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."