The not-so princess diaries

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In the beginning, when it came to parenting a daughter, I wasn’t exactly in the pink.
Sure, I had been a girlie-girl as a child. I loved baby dolls, was absolutely mad for my Malibu Barbie, and nurtured a veritable ark of stuffed animals long past the age of reason.
To this day, I cannot shove a stuffed toy into a garbage bag without feeling like a homicidal maniac set loose upon the innocents.
Yet, in the face of traditional femininity, I was not quite ready for a girl.
Why? Oh, that’s easy. I have a thing about princesses. I hate them – the fairy tale kind, anyway.
As a result, I didn’t want to raise a princess.
While I loved baby dolls, and tea parties, and had all the requisite girlhood love for unicorns, teddy bears, and rainbows, I had no interest in playing some fairy real-mother to a pint-sized princess.
Dubious. I’m the first to admit I find princesses to be dubious role models at best.
Sleeping Beauty’s claim to fame is as a victim and, as far as I can tell, Snow White’s greatest feat was dusting.
Not to mention that the No. 1 queen bee in the princess line – Cinderella – essentially gains all her power through the goodwill of a guy with a future in women’s shoes.
Back in pink. Nonetheless, the princess has been ubiquitous in pop culture in recent years. Even classic toys such as Barbie, Pocahontas, Tinkerbell, and probably Mickey Mouse himself by the time this goes to press, have undergone heavily marketed princess makeovers.
Add to that a spate of films (The Prince & Me, A Cinderella Story, the entire Princess Diaries saga) and you have a world where little girls can’t turn their heads without having to shield their eyes from the glare of a tiara.
Today, princesses reign supreme.
All there is? Why not aim a little higher? How about baby’s first Corporate CEO dress-up? (Perhaps with a little corporate bail-bondsman to complete the set!)
Let us not forget that Barbie was quite a savvy gal until she was recast as a princess and, as far as I can tell, she’s done nothing with her pilot/veterinarian/fashion design/medical training since then.
What a waste of perfectly plastic potential all for the price of a crown!
No, when it came to raising a daughter – while we were delighted with HER – we weren’t really in the pink, at all.
I had visions of raising a smart, savvy, strong, modern woman. The princesses overtaking the parenting landscape didn’t fit my plan at all.
Let’s get real. So, back in the real world, how do I prepare a daughter for what is undoubtedly a not-so-royal future?
The answer is not to build a strong wall around her but to make her strong inside. So strong that she can withstand the gale force winds of peer pressure, boys and the media and do so without any misguided belief in magic beyond brains and hard work.
I mean, I’d hate to raise a child wholly unprepared for the real world, where few pumpkins ever turn into a coach and frogs, sadly, generally remain frogs just about forever.
Just ask anyone who ever married a frog certain she could nag, berate, or inspire him to prince-dom. It’s generally a disappointing prospect, at best.
Success. Fortunately, it appears I was somewhat of a success, if haphazardly so. Despite my own delight in girlie things (I bought the baby dolls, the Barbie dolls, and yes, I hang my head in shame, the mini makeup kits and nail polish), my daughter remains firmly anti-royal.
She’s her big brother’s sister all the way, and would prefer action figures to princesses because, she states, princesses don’t get dirty.
Clearly, until Princess Barbie can figure out how to rappel off the dresser like G.I. Joe, she’s unlikely to get much action around here.
So with all this princess-ness successfully banished, what is my pet name for my strong, sassy, and confident girl? For this future of womanhood and feminine strength?
Oh, well, you know: Tinkerbell.
Hey, I said I didn’t like the girlie princess thing. I never said I had any problem with that old stereotype about women changing their minds.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in a tiara-free zone. She welcomes comment c/o kfs@epohi.com, http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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