The Truth About Imposed Princess Syndrome

Truth_Princess_SyndromeIf you know me, you know I don’t believe in applying repressive gender roles to my daughter. She and I were shopping yesterday when I noticed two baby boomers staring at her. More specifically, they were staring at her ensemble.

My girl was wearing light pink corduroy pants with a pattern of sparkling gems at the hem and a rosy-pink long sleeve tee with an appliqued horse sporting pink ribbons in its free-flowing mane. And Iron Man sneakers.

She loves princesses, ponies and The Avengers. My soon-to-be 5 year-old loves the trains and cars her older brother has handed down to her. And she adores the evenings when our little family is back together, and Pizza Super Hero Movie Night is unanimously declared.

When the boomers finished staring at my daughter, I couldn’t help myself—I had to comment. “We can’t wait for Iron Man 3,” I said, more than enthusiastically.

Back in early December, my daughter had already window shopped with her grandmother for her Iron Man sneakers, so she knew exactly where she was headed when she and I walked into that store. You’ve probably guessed the saleswoman immediately directed us to the pink, girly section. In fact, she nearly insisted. Then my daughter looked up at me with a bold confidence that instantly brought a smile to my heart. “We’ll be over there checking out the super hero sneakers. We’ll let you know when we’re ready to try on,” I advised.

I don’t know about you, but I cringe every time I see a little one suffering from Imposed Princess Syndrome. Don’t get me wrong; we love the princesses, too. We’ve had princess themed birthday parties and my daughter will often choose outfits from her princess-like wardrobe.

Our favorite park at Disney last year was Magic Kingdom, largely due to its plethora of princesses. But upon our return from Florida, my daughter immediately began asking to visit “Marvel” during our next vacation. To be fair to the super heroes she also loves, you know.

Children learn what they live. If we provide only ‘girl’ stuff to our daughters without thought; if we teach our daughters to choose only ‘girly’ things, then that she will. If we allow her to decide what truly interests her, well, she might wear Iron Man sneakers. And run for President of The United States.

As I’ve mentioned before, like you, I have countless dreams for my daughter. I dream about the life-long possibilities in front of her. And I continue to reassure her the sky is the limit, and there will no longer be gender-imposed glass ceilings for her to break. I tell her she’s a girl, yes, and that means she can do anything she desires. Anything.

There are also days when you may see my daughter out in her mask and cape. Sometimes with boots, and other times with sparkly ballet flats. Why shouldn’t our daughters enjoy the best of both worlds?

photo credit: NathanMarx

  • Barbara Charles

    Hi Kelli. First let me say great article and what I’m about to say is not a criticism, but an observation. I definitely agree that gender assignment in this day and age and what people think should be strictly boy or girl is a bit outdated. I’ve raised two very strong, willed girls myself, one strictly ‘girly’ the other all tomboy!. At the same time, I think your use of the term baby boomers is a bit insulting. You see, I am a baby boomer myself, but I do not think like that. Here you have been as judging as the ‘baby boomers’ who condemned your little girl. I know you didn’t mean it that way, but your use of the term implies ‘a specific group of people acting in a specific way thinking specific thougths’ just as they did to you. Guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Either way, I applaud you for raising your daughter to be an independent thinker and confident in who she is and what she wants. Good luck with her and to you.

    • Kelli Nelson

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Barbara. It’s always good to see new faces! I assure you there was no intended condemnation or judgement of the boomer gen with use of the descriptive term. I didn’t get the feeling that the couple had condemned my daughter–just that they were quite surprised to see the combination of clothing and shoes she chose to wear. :)

  • Lisa Cash Hanson

    I must be a weirdo because I love everything Princess LOL I don’t worry about what she loves or if I’m imposing my girly values on my daughter. Her role in life won’t be determined by what she puts on but the character of her heart. I think as your daughter watches your strength Kelli that is what she will model :) The clothes & toys are just a fun extra. And I”m not insulted by baby boomer at all :) As a matter of fact I decide to never take offense it’s just a waste of energy. Great post girlfriend xoxo

    • Kelli Nelson

      Thanks, Lisa! You’re always inspiring. :)

  • Samantha Smith Kitchenman

    I love your post! Right now I am planning my 2 year old daughter’s birthday party for this weekend. The theme is Toy Story but it is really Woody & Buzz. My mom kept asking why she didn’t like Jesse and I told her I didn’t know but Woody & Buzz are her favorite and that is who is going to be on her cake. I also painted her room blue, a girly blue, but blue nonetheless. This wasn’t appreciated by our family who think girls should only be in pink. I love pink but I love other colors too. My daughter can choose the next color of her room and she also gets to choose the theme for her birthday parties! I’m sure we will have princesses but I won’t impose what I think it should be. It’s her party, even if she is just 2!

    • Kelli Nelson

      Hi Samantha. I’m glad you stopped by and commented. I love that your daughter’s room is blue. Hang in there and stick to your guns… your daughter will appreciate it [now and] when she’s older! My daughter’s birthday is this month as well and she’s chosen The Avengers theme. Every year I search to find a special outfit for her to wear on her birthday. This year, I found an adorable Iron Man tutu dress… the best of both worlds!

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