The Worst Advice We’ve Heard About Princess

Calling Your Daughter One

Let me start by saying that I am not a mother. While I have devoted more time thinking about what kind of mother I want (hope) to be and what traits I want to pass on to my children, I will humbly admit to you that I really have no clue what it is like to look at a human that you have created and watch the world put labels and restrictions on them. This is especially poignant when it comes to daughters.

That being said, I would like to offer my insight into a couple of articles I read about the “Disney Princess Culture” and how that can severely and negatively impact your daughters’ personal development. The articles I read were very strongly against calling little girls princesses and would be up for avoiding all princess movies if that were possible. (Hey, it is a Disney world, we just live in it.). But I really took issue with them. The opinions were so polarized that they seemed like an overreaction. As if swinging the opposite way on the pendulum would save the girls of the future. And if there is anything I have learned from my childhood and personal development, it is that overreaction can be just as damaging as doing nothing.

Story Book World Is Not Reality

Here is what I mean: if you look at a story about a princess and immediately think that its message is going to somehow imprint a helpless and shallow world view on your daughter and you want to do everything in your power to run the opposite direction, you are going to hurt your child in a whole new way.

Just A doll or a role model?

An example from my life was the toys I chose as a little girl. Mainly, my twin sister and I had dinosaurs, Barbies and Beanie Babies. It was the nineties and my sister and I enjoyed playing with all of them. We did not look at the Barbies as role models of how to look. To us, they were the same as the large T-Rex we had or the collection of bunny Beanie Babies. They were toys, meant for play, nothing more. The idea that we should grow up trying to look like Barbie was as strange a concept as if we tried to grow up looking like Hoot the Owl Beanie Baby. It was ludicrous.

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But one day when we were about 6 years old, my mother barged into our room and gave us a 30 minute lecture on how Barbies are unrealistic looking and that it was crazy that all of their feet were pointed to always wear high heels. It was the first, pseudo-feminist lecture I had encountered and I really did not understand much of it.

The women who wrote the articles about calling your daughter a princess might be applauded for taking the time to tell us how we should not try to look like Barbie. Some might say that she was teaching us a valuable lesson. But I wholeheartedly disagree. And here is why:

The Princess Name Packs Girl-Power

Since the age of 14 I have battled with anorexia. Was it because my body changed and I realized that I did not look like Barbie? Was it because I had watched Disney princess movies and realized that my waist was not smaller than my neck?


It was the messages I got from real life. It was actually the messages I got from my mother. She was always “on a diet.” She was always telling us that we had bad genes and if we were not careful we were going to get fat. And she was always talking negatively about her appearance. She gave me this twisted view of my body and what it should be like. She gave me no role model to follow to learn how to make healthy choices and she certainly did not teach me how to see beauty in myself.

You define Princess for your daughters

So coming back to these women who say “Don’t call my daughter princess! Calling her princess will teach her to be entitled or that her worth is only in her outward appearance!” Just stop and think.

You are the ones teaching them what princess means. You are the one defining princess as something worthless even though every example of a princess I can think of has something to offer. Ask yourself why princess has to be a bad thing. Why can you not teach your daughter to take that word seriously? Why can it not mean that the people around you believe in you so much that they think you can change the world or make it a better place?

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Why do you not teach your daughters about Princess Diana who personally worked with many valuable charities and was a philanthropist above all else?

I guess what I am trying to say is that you have a lot more to do with who your daughter becomes than the man in a store who calls her princess or the characters in the newest fairytale movie.

She may love to dress up as Belle or Ariel for Halloween. She may want a tiara for her dress up clothes. But when it comes down to who she looks up to and whose opinions will form the basis of her self-worth, it is you. Your messages and ideas and side comments that you did not think she heard are going to help shape her world. So do not run away from the princess culture; teach your daughters what being a true princess really means.

Contributor, Claudette P. Esterine
Alexis Ali

Alexis Ali lives in New York with her husband. She has a Master’s degree in Linguistics and is a freelance writer of short stories. She also sings, has a love for photography and may one day be doing both with her Princess or two. Her most recent posts was a short story series, “Adele’s Pattern: A Journey To Redemption.” You can read it here.

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40 thoughts on “The Worst Advice We’ve Heard About Princess

  1. […] and uses her skills to help others with their writing projects. Her most recent posts here were: “The Worst Advice We’ve Heard About Princess,” and a short story series on parental abuse and healing – “Adele’s Pattern: A […]

  2. I happen to agree that is it what we tell the young girls in how they look at things. This is a great post and something we should all think about. Thanks for sharing the information.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are most welcome and thank you for visiting. 🙂

  3. I was very much a tomboy so I never got called princess 😉

    1. Ms Claudette

      That’s funny! 🙂

  4. Wendy

    Totally agree with you that kids learn way more by your behavior than by what you say. Actions speak louder than words is a saying for a reason!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Indeed they do! 🙂

  5. Elizabeth O.

    That’s a very good point you made right there. This world that we live in shape us into thinking about following a specific norm and that’s not how it should be. It really depends on the parents and how they’ll raise their kids.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Absolutely right, Elizabeth, absolutely! 🙂

  6. I couldn’t agree more. I was judged my whole life. My aunt was a model so everything was “Your aunt eats like this.” or “Your aunt would never dress like that.”. I also loved the Disney princesses and loved pretending I was one, but my uncles – bullies – kept telling me I was Ursula instead. I guess I don’t need to tell you I have terrible self esteem to this day, right?

    1. Ms Claudette

      No, you don’t need to tell me. As I was reading you each line of your comment, I kept saying to myself “oh no!” I have been there and after many years of tears, self-hatred – thank God I am “healed” for the most parts. I have my moments but the good thing is I very easily catch myself when I am not being the Princess/Queen that I am. Feel free to email me if you want to just chat with a former Ursula. The beauty of being one is that you know exactly where you are not going back to! Much love and blessings my darling! 🙂

  7. danii

    We give words our own meanings really. We all indulge in a bit of daydreaming throughout life as well so if being your version of a princess makes you feel good, whatever age you are, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else in the world thinks.

    1. Ms Claudette

      And another Amen! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and sharing your valuable insight! 🙂

  8. The key is setting good examples because our kids learn from us first. They see what we are doing and they try to imitate us.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Amen to that! 🙂

  9. victoria

    What a beautiful post. My dad would call me princess until now and he would never spoil me but i feel that he loves me. I will remember this when i have a daughter and i call her princess.

    1. Ms Claudette

      That made me smile, as so many girls grew up or are growing up never hearing words of endearment and empowerment from their parents. I think that is Alexis’ point. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. I agree that the label itself isn’t the defining factor. It’s more important how we raise them and model ourselves in front of them.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Exactly, exactly right you are! 🙂

  11. Like your article, but have to say Princess is sometimes just a term. When someone goes overboard and princess this and princess that. yes.. But I personally find that being called princess is not offensive.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, you are correct that sometimes people can overuse the word, just like everything else but it personally doesn’t bother me. Whatever the word used, what is bothersome is a poor attitude, whether the person is called princess or not. Thanks for sharing your thoughts as always! 🙂

  12. I’m happy to say I’m with Jennifer Clay on this one. I think this is pushing the envelope too much. Disney might teach “happily ever after” (and for goodness sake don’t blame Disney for Barbie because they have NOTHING to do with each other) but not everything they show is that way. Have you seen Bambi? We were raised on Grimm’s Fairy Tails like Chicken Little. Does that mean we are all going to be eaten by the Big Bad Wolf? Lighten up!! We teach our children and they follow our lead. If she wants to grow up and be a princess, then she’s better get busy finding her prince!

  13. What? I have never thought that watching princess movies could damage my kids. I grew up watching the same kind of movies and guess what…I am just fine. I won’t stop letting them watch Disney movies.

    1. Ms Claudette

      i guessed you were just fine! LOL. This is the challenge some have when some feminist go completely overboard! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  14. What a wonderful place the imagination is–I can not begin to think of a world without Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. Yes, I grew up with all the Princesses and loved to play at being one–when I was young! I agree with the writer when she says it is the Mom who has the lasting influence on her daughter. Besides–every male pit there should be taught to treat EVERY woman as if she were a princess (and I do not mean with things of monetary valie.)

    1. Ms Claudette

      I totally agree with you! i called my daughter Princess for all her life and she didn’t come up with any complexes or feelings of entitlement. Instead, it made her understand that she was highly valued as well as has a duty to be kind and compassionate. I hope she passes on the lesson to her daughter now. Alexis, the writer, did a fantastic job of relaying this point. 🙂

  15. What a truly inspirational post and thank you for sharing you battle with body image because more often than not it is the ones that we love that make us question whether we are really good enough. I think that you have taken ownership of the term princess and applied it in a way that is healthy for your child to learn.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Like you, I was very appreciative and touched that Alexis chose to share that detail. It really humanized her post. Thank you for visiting Ana! 🙂

  16. Let your kids be who they are. If they want to play with dolls, cars, etc. I called my daughter princess but I also showed her how to have a level head. A princess need not be spoiled. Even in Disney movies we have sweet, kind princesses, and negative, mean ones.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Spot on Joely, spot on! 🙂

  17. I was never called princess as a child (I was probably too much of a tomboy for one thing!) but I understand where you’re coming from with this article. Very interesting!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you and I am sure Alexis will be thanking you as well. 🙂

  18. I knew a girl whose name is princess. To me that is a little to much

    1. Ms Claudette

      To each his/her own is my philosophy. There are cultures where that is not considered too much. I know a young woman. I went to University with her, and her name was actually Queen. She was/is from Sierra Leone. I think being named as such did give her a regal air that I did admire. 🙂

  19. I remember how mad I was when I took my daughter to see Thumbelina (this was a really long time ago). The whole premise of the movie was about her turning 16 and having to get married.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I would have been annoyed by that myself.

  20. As a mom of two girls, I have to say, everything I thought on how I would raise my kids went out the door when it came to raising them. And yes, I agree with you on this. My girls learned much more quickly about how to act and treat people by watching me, then by me lecturing them. Be a wonderful role model and your kids will move mountains!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Amen! You are all that matters in the end to your children! Thanks for stopping by and leaving that comment. 🙂

  21. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    No one ever called me one as a kid, but I love it when they do now 🙂

    1. Ms Claudette

      I smiled as I read your comment and something tells me Alexis will as well! 🙂 I am a womanist and I must be honest, coming off the lips of the right person, I melt when someone calls me princess/queen/beautiful. It reaffirms what I already know. Thanks for the smile. 🙂

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