The Undeniable Princess Effect

. January 30, 2015.

If you are the parent of a young daughter, then it is quite possible that your house has been invaded by princesses. Frilly, sparkly, glittery, princess stuff. There’s no avoiding it. No matter how determined you are to minimize the princess effect, little girls seem to eat it up.

There has been a shift in the last year, however, at least at my house. Gone are Ariel and Belle and Jasmine, all replaced by the snow-covered sisters Anna and Elsa of Frozen. Our house is littered with Frozen paraphernalia. I’ve been to other houses with young girls, and they are in the same condition. I for one have welcomed this change, as Anna and Elsa have buried the previous princess trope in an avalanche of snow, and hopefully for good.

I have spent far more time undermining popular princess stories than a man ideally should. I told my daughter Ariel wasn’t allowed to marry Prince Eric until she completed her Ph.D. in Marine Biology. This is more than fair, Ariel has advanced knowledge of marine life, her real issue in the academic world is probably vocabulary.

And guess what? Things didn’t work out between Belle and the Beast. Relationships are hard. That’s ok, because Belle decided to enter Le Cordon Bleu to pursue a career in the male dominated field of professional chefs. Jasmine opened a school for girls in Punjab. You get the picture. Make the princesses strong women who face difficult choices, these tales are open books— we as parents can fill in the moral gaps. They don’t all have to be insipid love stories that reduce women to mere objects of male attention.

Happily, Frozen breaks many of these boundaries. A running theme in the movie is that Anna is foolish for agreeing to marry a guy she just met. True love wins in the end, but it is love between sisters. Yes, there is a later love interest for Anna, but he is a working-class schmo— an unlikely match for a princess. And he has a really cute reindeer. As for Olaf, anyone who analyzes this deep is in need of help. With all due respect to Sigmund Freud, sometimes a talking snowman is just a talking snowman.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be more than happy when the Anna and Elsa phase is over, and my daughter is ready to move on to a real princess movie, Princess Mononoke. But, as for Frozen, things could be worse. From Twilight Sparkle to the Twilight books, there is far more vapid material out there for girls.

Jeremy Rosenberg gave up the corporate rat race years ago to become a freelance writer and graduate student, as well as a stay-at-home Dad to his two children, Jack, 11, and Eva, 6. He also enjoys playing the guitar, letting his cats fall asleep on his lap.