As my almost 3-year-old daughter and I walked through the Disney store on a just-for-fun adventure to the mall, I saw the words “Be your own hero”. I try to take every opportunity I can to empower our daughter—last year my husband, daughter and I literally all dressed as super-heroes for Halloween. But, this year, when we were throwing around Halloween costume ideas, my daughter said, “I want to be a princess.” Sigh.
It’s not that I don’t want her to play fun, girly, pretend games—playing dress-up is great for creativity. And it’s fun. Play, dress up, sweetie. And I want her to encourage her to make her own decisions, good, bad or ridiculous.
It’s just that princesses are so wimpy and entitled. I don’t want her to be a damsel in distress who just can’t help herself. I don’t want her to be a princess who’s just a girl—not a student, or a hard worker, or an athlete. Princesses are supposed to just be pretty, find their prince, then live happily ever after.
I want her to study hard and work hard. I want her to explore the world—to learn about different cultures, countries, people and perspectives. To drink a beer at 3AM in a Berlin train station with someone who grew up in East Germany, and to try a Caipirinha in Rio De Janeiro with her best friend and a bunch of new friends who don’t even speak her language. I want her to be strong and self-sufficient. To be a good person and to lend a helping hand when she has the opportunity.
In a world of Brock Turners, presidential candidates who think it’s OK to grope women without their consent, and a million other ordinary guys who take advantage of women, I want her to know how to stick up for herself. I want her to breathe fire, if someone tries to cross a line with her. Sweetie, tell me you want to be a dragon. Not a princess.
Because, this world isn’t going to hand you a Prince Charming and a happily ever after, and there’s so much more to life than that anyway.
What this world is going to hand you is a thousand choices. I want you to know that those choices are yours.
If your favorite color is blue—great. Don’t let anyone tell you that blue is a boy color. If you play with a toy microscope and bug slides at preschool—wonderful. Don’t ever let anyone tell you science and math are boys’ subjects. Girls can kick butt at science and math and they can find amazing careers there.
Strive to be strong. Don’t be wimpy because society pushes women to be skinny and delicate. Rock a dress and know that you’re beautiful—love being a girl, but don’t ever let that limit you.
This Halloween’s princesses are going to be so beautiful and adorable. And if your daughter or our daughter is a princess this year, that’s OK—wonderful even. It’s fun to dress up—enjoy the beauty, creativity and magic.
But be a princess for Halloween, and be more in real life.
Let’s make sure our girls know they’re more than princesses. Let’s teach them to be strong and capable, not wimpy and entitled. Let’s teach them to breathe fire, if someone threatens them. Let’s not let anyone limit their colors or clothes or dreams.
Girls–be beautiful and have fun. But be strong and capable and good. Be your own hero.