Princess Week. Seriously.

Did we all have a fabulous and frilly Princess Week?

No really. It’s a thing.

Target came up with the idea, and in conjunction with Disney (big shocker there) announced that this past week will be henceforth known as: Princess Week.

Can’t we just pull back the pink curtain and call this week what it really is? “Buy lots of pink plastic crap that reinforces traditional gender stereotypes and frilly dress up for girls only week” – or would that be too much of a mouthful?

And, before anyone jumps down my throat – let me include my usual disclaimer that there is nothing wrong with the color pink (it’s my son’s favorite color!), and there are actually even some princesses out there that I totally dig. Really.

My issue with Princess Week, despite Target/Disney’s insistence that it’s all about finding your “inner sparkle” is that:

a. Let’s be honest – it’s about merchandising and selling more branded crap. They’re creating a week that on the surface sounds great and potentially empowering, but the bottom line is that it’s devised to empty out your wallet and continue fostering a culture of consumerism. Your child’s inner sparkle costs anywhere from $9.99 to $19.99 and beyond.

b. It’s aimed solely at girls.

I’ve written about Princesses before, and in fact had my very own “Princess Week” (pink crap not included) over at Bitch magazine.

I don’t have anything new or earth shattering to add since what I wrote there. I still take issues with the messages that most marketed princesses sell – both their messages about what it means to be a girl, and the branding that comes along with it. The fact that two huge corporations have found yet another way to capitalize on both these aspects pisses me off, frankly. I’d much rather they sell a brand of princesses more along these lines:

Many parents might be rushing to the stores to stock up on “inner sparkle” in the form of DVDs, toys, costumes, art supplies, food, etc… Over here, we’re too busy singing karaoke (no really, it’s the new “cool” thing here. oy.), digging for worms (yay Spring!), and reading books about different kinds of princesses.

In the meantime, check out these fab posts from two of my pals:

Sarah at Standing In the Shadows adds her two cents and Peggy Orenstein offers up her thoughts on Princess Week.

And, I would remiss if I didn’t include a link to this little clip of Stephen Colbert interviewing Dame Julie Andrews…they talk princesses, inner sparkle, brussel sprouts, and rusty trombones. No, really.

ETA: You MUST check out this fabulous resource from A Mighty Girl: The Ultimate Guide to Independent Princesses.

16 thoughts on “Princess Week. Seriously.

  1. Wow, didn’t know about Princess Week and am not surprised that Target/Disney came up with this. Ugh. I echo your sentiments exactly.

    Now on to check out the Colbert link…


    • I had mixed feelings about the Colbert clip. Of course, Colbert nails it. He gets it. And Andrews is a legend and very quick witted/snarky. But…she also enforces traditional stereotypes which was kind of a bummer…

    • That’s awesome Kelly! And heck, if your girls wanted to play in the dirt while wearing their princess dresses, I think *that* would be a perfect way to celebrate Princess Week 😉

  2. Great post, Avital! In response to princess week, we created the “Ultimate Guide to Independent Princesses” on A Mighty Girl — it’s up to 50 books and growing. I’ve actually been a bit surprised by how many of these types of stories exist – — at least there are quite a few good alternatives to the Disney shrinking violet variety of princess out there for princess-obsessed young girls.

  3. I *hate* the idea of telling our kids that they can find their “inner sparkle” by buying stuff. As Peggy Orenstein says, “Empowerment through Shopping” is not really going to cut it.

  4. Note to self: Never follow Disney’s idea of Princess Week. If my daughters ever hear about it and want to enjoy it, there are far better ways to do so than shopping.

  5. I’d be interested in seeing that brand of princesses you suggest too! 🙂
    Princess Week was a real bummer – my biggest issue is how much time/money/energy is going into polarizing our boys and girls. There are so many crative/cool/engaging ways we could celebrate childhood and bring kids together to discover some common ground.
    Great post!

  6. I will have to read the book but I am in a bit of a bind. I feel 100% how you all feel about this whole Princess thing. I am always trying to teach my daughter that there are no “boy toys” or “girl toys” and truly trying to educate her beyond the traditional gender stereotypes constantly reinforced everywhere she turns. The challenge is, while I do not encourage it, I also do not want to completely ban it either. At this point in time, it genuinely makes her happy. I see her smile light up and with a hope that it’s just a “phase” that all of the little girls in her preschool are going through, I wonder if it’s too destructive to allow it, with some moderation and also constant reinforcement of other things that do not promote such a stereotype. Everyone wants to see their daughter smile, so what do you think? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • Kate – the issue for me is not so much the concept of princesses in general, but more so the rabid marketing of poor examples of princesses (that espouse and sell only submissive, can only be saved by a man, girly-girl images of what a princess is).

      I think you can certainly encourage “princess play” without buying into the Disneyfied definition of what a princess is. A Might Girl above shared a link to a whole bunch of fabulous princess books where the girls aren’t presented as damsels in distress, and rather as the heroic princess:

      I definitely think there are ways to encourage your daughters love of princesses (and really, what little kid doesn’t love pretty things that sparkle?!) without getting sucked in to the messages and branding that Disney and other corps like it force-feed us!

  7. What saddens me about this whole marketing strategy is the fact that once again Target has neglected boys. Firstly they have neglected boys by not promoting a Prince Week (not that I agree at all with the whole attempt at getting people to spend more money on crap we don’t need), but secondly and more importantly, they again re-enforce and exploit gender stereotypes for profits. What about the boys that don’t conform to societies “hyper-masculine” gender binary (and let’s face it, NO secure man does). What about these boys that like sparkles, pink and princess dresses? If we consider it cute when a girl is a “tomboy”, then we should have the same standards with boys that are “jane girls”. I hate these “girls only clubs” from corporations like target. The last time I went into a target the women section was 10 times the size of the men’s, clearly only profit motivated by targeting a specific gender.

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