I remember the day she discovered Binoo. I remember the day she discovered Barney.
I remember the day she discovered Blues Clues. I remember the day she discovered Dora.
Then, one day, she discovered Sleeping Beauty. Every day of discovery since then has paled in comparison.
Sleeping Beauty was, and remains, in the eyes of my daughter, the ultimate fairytale, the ultimate princess, the ultimate magic. Some would have me believe that to encourage this is detrimental to my daughter's independence, sense of empowerment, self-worth, and self-image. I haven't dissected it that far.
All I see is the MAGIC. My daughter is now a size 8, but she still squeezes like a sausage into her size 6 Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty silk nightgown at every opportunity. The difference these days is I'm not allowed to tell people she continues to covet this frayed blue silky frock. Princesses are not cool. Her friends might laugh at her.
Until last summer, my daughter defined herself as the ultimate girly girl.
At age three, she proudly stepped into a pair of glass dress-up frou-frou slippers and paraded around the house, around the compound, and anywhere we would allow with those heels clicking and clacking. She wore them with her best dress-up dress, with her best princess costume, with her best undies, striving to glide gracefully, usually tittering and tottering unstably, her parents agonizing at whether she would end up mercilessly twisting an ankle on those ungodly cheap plastic heels.
Nothing brought her more joy than those heels. Nothing other than pairing them with a princess costume, fake jewelry or a really fancy dress. Oh, the wonder at seeing the joy in her eyes as she dreamt and hoped of the possibility of perhaps one day achieving "princessdom".
Her feet have long outgrown the length of those glass slippers.
Last summer, our little princess girly girl informed us that she was now a 'tom girl'.
Apparently a tom girl combines all that is best of a tomboy and girlie girl. That was cool. She told us she preferred pop music to nursery rhyme tunes. Then announced a slight interest in Justin Bieber. Told us he had broken up with Selena Gomez. That was cool. Pink was no longer her favorite color. She still liked pink, but turquoise was now the preferred option. That was cool. Then, on the first day of school, she asked me if I could buy her plain panties. She didn't want the other girls to tease her when she changed on PE and gymnastics days. Ok, but NOT COOL.
We were losing the little princess. But we knew that change is the only constant. So Christmas time rolled around. She got a pair of flowery pj's from Santa. She got plain panties from Santa. All cool.
That's when she told us that pink actually still was her favorite color (the pj's were pink). And that she didn't really want to get rid of the princess panties; she'd just wear them on alternating days. She pleaded for me to keep the Disney Princess nightgown; but I shouldn't tell her friends that she still wears it. She confessed that she actually prefers all things princess. She confessed that she is defending the value of princesses to her friends. And, yes, she likes "Brave" and "Lava Girl" and other super duper progressive strong princess characters, but "Maman, Sleeping Beauty is still my favorite". Our princess was obviously torn between what she loved and what she felt would get her loved.
Her Papa bought her a beautiful beaded "lady grown up gown" for Christmas, with matching beaded headband and high-heeled beaded shoes (the next generation of glass frou-frou slippers). And a princess was reborn. She couldn't help herself. The princess in her was too strong. She recently told me that she cannot keep on pretending she doesn't like princesses and girlie-girl things.
She was teased by boys in her class for writing an essay on Cinderella. She asked my husband and I what to do. We told her to stand up for what she believed in, and if it helped, tell the the boys that writing about super-heros and spacemen was just as amazing or silly as writing about princesses. Stand up for what you believe in.
She did. She told a friend on the bus that you can like princesses and still like Justin Bieber. You don't have to like everything about them, but you can like something about them. And that's ok.
I truly believe princesses are born, not made. Our princess cannot change what she is. She cannot erase the princess within her; she may temper the princess, occasionally stifle her, but the princess will remain. I love the princess. Sleeping Beauty, Brave, Pocahontas, Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine, she is all of these and more.
My daughter is an adaptable princess. She cannot suppress who she is at her core, and in the end, she will defend who she is. She will stand up to the bad guy, the evil matron, the cruel inflictor of pain.
Her namesake is protector of mankind. Perhaps by naming her as we did, we inflicted upon her the virtues of a princess and committed her to a life of dichotomous suffering and privilege. But I am proud of my princess; she is standing up for what she believes in.
Yes, I am proud of my princess. She reminds me every day that I must not lose sight of what is important to me; I must not lose the princess in me. You may not always see her, but the princess in you is still there. There is something to be said about re-discovering the princess in all of us. Stand strong, stand up for what you believe in, stand up for the princess in you.
I, for one, am committed to not losing the princess in me.