December 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Princessitude

Editor's note: Below is a post from five years ago. I wrote it originally for Diamonds and Toads, my first fairy tale site, which is now defunct. (Tahlia Merrill Kirk, editor of the fabulous fairy tale site, Timeless Tales, had D&T for several years.)

Anyway, there are some fun posts on there. One of these is below. Enjoy!

frequently run across students and other adults who tell me they love, love, love fairy tales and wanted to be a princess when they grew up.

I always wonder: Why the hell would they want that?

A lot of the "princess" clothes in fairy-tale illustrations are lovely, but, in fact, were cumbersome and dangerous to wear. In some cases, they look so old-fashioned, that they just appear weird, not intriguingly super-vintage.

The princes (husbands) almost NEVER have their personal qualities described in detail. What we do find out, in some cases, is disturbing. The prince in "Snow White" offers to buy her, while she is in a coffin, and he believes her to be dead. The prince in "Sleeping Beauty" at best is a kiss stealer, but at first, was a rapist. "Sun, Moon and Tahla" is generally considered the first written version of SB. Read it, if you have not already. A good version of it is here on EC:

In real life, princesses have had it pretty rough. Most of the time, they never married for love. And, if the princess was unfortunate enough to love her husband, her feelings often were not returned. Just read about the life of Louis XIV's queen.(This link on her is not verified, but from what I've read in other places, it's pretty accurate. The link is below.)

Princesses and queens were not usually in charge of their own children. They had official court duties. They could be put aside and sent to convents or beheaded. Or they could die in tunnels in Paris.

Sorry to be such a downer, but while I love pink dresses and glitter and fairy wands at least as much as the next lady, the princess movement in clothing and books and toys and in attitude is troubling to me. As troubling as the lives of real princesses have been.

The worst part of this trend is the attitude that comes with it. "Princessitude" (at least that is how I think of it), involves hands on hips, whining, foot stamping and many, many demands.

Actually, "princessitude" in its modern manifestation, seems a lot more like wanting to grow up and be a wicked stepmother than a hard-working royal, whose life is filled with high-level drudgery--which is very much like royal reality. No one has ever told me that they dreamed of that while growing up.

The image here is of Sleeping Beauty. It must have been a very uncomfortable 100 years, in that frock. The illustration is by Edmund Dulac.

No comments: