Thursday, April 28, 2011

Revisiting the Princess

"Don't be such a princess." It's an expression that is sometimes used when you're being spoiled or sulking because you can't get your own way. The word princess has changed meanings over the years and it might be time for us to rethink what we mean by princess.

These are not the Disney princesses wearing beautiful gowns and crowns. A princess, back in history, was a member of a royal family whose status meant that they enjoyed special privileges associated with their rank. It also meant that they carried the burden of responsibility for carrying on their royal lineage through good marriages and fruitful childbearing. The context of the historical princess is particular to an age when royalty actually meant something and countries were constructed around a social pyramid with the exploited masses making up the majority at the bottom, while the elites held the wealth up top, well out of the way. This outmoded notion of a princess need not apply today.

The modern day princess has come to symbolize the selfish, self-entitled and spoiled women today whose passions include the spa and shopping and taking care of oneself. It also seemingly applies to that category of women who have no qualms with relying solely on the generosity of their friends, family and hapless boyfriends. This princess is usually the one swimming in consumer debt and designer purses and is the basis of the reality show 'Princess' where dollar diva Gail Vax-Oxlade tries to help these women in debt change their lives.

With all the talk of the royal wedding, it's natural that this whole notion of princess will come up once again and that a lot of women are going to have visions of puffy ball gowns, tiaras and myriad other shiny sparkly things. This usually leads to a reverie where a damsel in distress is rescued by some God-like gorgeous man who happens to be a prince and whose only desire in life is to whisk her away on his mighty steed, blah blah blah.

Time for the bubble to burst.

But the news isn't all bad. While the outmoded version of princess has taken on a more sinister and serious connotation which is indicative of a social phenomenon of self-obsession, the new age princess can also be an independent woman. That's the beauty of crowning Kate Middleton. For all the critics say about her family being well-heeled and far from common, Kate is her own woman. She's highly educated, beautiful, capable and has had success in her own right working in business. Although she will enjoy certain luxuries in her new life, she won't be anyone's subject or poor pawn like the late Princess Diana. Kate has the unique ability to re-shape our vision of what a princess is and transform it from a superficial helpless damsel to a strong woman capable of standing on her own two feet- even if those feet are in a pair of fabulous Laboutins.

Little girls grow up dreaming about becoming princesses, but it doesn't really mean anything. They think that wearing a gorgeous gown, crown and jewels and being adored by a man are all you need to live that fantasy. But little girls should aspire to be more, using Kate's example, a real life princess who actually got her education, worked and walked a mile in the common person's shoes. They should want to wear beautiful clothes because they're proud of themselves, and proud of their ability to pay for their own things, not because they 'like nice things' or 'daddy bought it for me.'

Little girls- you can be beautiful, poised and well-attired with your own money and your own success story. You can be proud of yourself for being self-sufficient and for being yourself. And you don't need a prince to be a princess. You can love yourself, treat yourself and pride yourself on being a lady.

It used to be that someday your prince will come. It should now be that someday, your self-confidence and poise will lead you to great success.

No comments:

Post a Comment