This Site is for Every Girl Who Wants to be More than a Princess
While I love the sight of my girls dressing up like princesses and using their imaginations for fairy-tales, I also admit that I hope that they can dream of being something more than a woman who looks pretty and waits for a prince in order to start her real life.
And apparently, I'm not alone in that. When Beckie Thompson's daughter, Keira, then eight years old, took a trip to Disney World, she was frustrated by all the staff who constantly called her “princess.” She finally turned to her mom in exasperation and said, “Mom! This is so annoying. I don't want to be a princess, I want to be a pilot!”
So Thompson decided to take matters into her own hands and give her daughter the role models she had been searching for, by creating a site called I Don't Want To Be A Princess. The site features inspiring modern-day and historical women who do more than look pretty.
I had the chance to chat with Thompson about her movement to teach girls that they can be more than just princesses. Here's what I learned from her.
You can be a princess and a pilot
“I don’t know that I’ve made a conscious effort to steer away from the princess culture, but I have certainly made a conscious effort to steer away from a culture that defines women by their looks,” Thomson explains. “If someone tells Keira how beautiful she is, I always say something to the effect of, ‘Yes, and she’s incredibly smart or very creative, too.' In launching I Don’t Want To Be A Princess™, I’ve come to realize that the two often go hand-in-hand.”
Fairy tales look different in real life
“I’ve always wondered about truly believing in a fairy tale as the ultimate form of ‘happily ever after,'” Thomspon admits. “In fact, I based my speech at my sister’s wedding on how marriage isn’t a fairy tale; it’s better. One segment focused on how women in fairy tales always need to be rescued while, in reality, everyone is the hero and everyone needs to be rescued at certain times in their lives. I believe this coincides directly with the message of I Don’t Want To Be A Princess™.”
Princesses have special needs
“Keira has Aspergers Syndrome,” Thompson explains. “I am continually amazed at her wise-beyond-her-years insight. Her sense of self throughout the princess craze was inspiring. She has come incredibly far due to her amazing therapists, and I know she is destined for great things. She has been and will continue to be an integral part of the business. She has brilliant ideas!”
Being a princess is about more than looking pretty
“My main goal is to encourage and inspire girls to be anything they want to be, regardless of societal conventions,” she notes. “I also want to start a movement to call girls and women words based on their abilities rather than their appearance. My big picture goal is to make I Don’t Want To Be A Princess™ a lifestyle brand that promotes female empowerment.”
Real-life female heroes are better than princesses
For example, Thomson cited the story of Annie Bartosz, who turned tragedy into action by creating Gold in September after her twin brother lost his battle to cancer at age 11. There is Sophia Paul, who started an all-girls robotics team and rewrote the story of Rapunzel to Rampunzel in which the heroine builds a robot to get herself out of the tower. Or take Katie Sue Rahilly, who continues to dominate the NFL’s Punt, Pass, and Kick Championships.
We need to stop complimenting girls on their appearances
This is a tough one to do (I know I'm guilty of it) but Thompson points out that we need to compliment girls based on ability, not appearance. “Keira said to me the other day, ‘Mom, why don’t we just call girls by their names and then compliment them on what they did?' Brilliant.
I believe that anything in moderation is fine. The problem comes in with the persistent princess messaging. Girls are not going to reach their full potential or even know what their full potential could be if they are constantly watching princesses waiting to be saved by someone else. I’ve had people point out that the characters are evolving, but I’d still want my daughter to hear stories of real-life Amazing Girls any day!”
Amen, Thompson. Visit I Don't Want To Be A Princess and don't forget to check out their amazing T-shirts that send some serious girl power messages!
How do you empower your little girl?