Arts Post
Posted at 04:13 PM ET, 04/26/2012

National Princess Week: ‘Inner sparkle,’ at a price

So, how are you celebrating the first annual National Princess Week? By marking your first anniversary with an actual prince? No? Oh, right, that’s just the Duchess of Cambridge.

There are a few women in this world who can truly celebrate this eye-roll of a made-up holiday — one of them being the former Kate Middleton — but the rest of us will just have to settle for a big Disney-Target marketing ploy: seven days devoted to celebrating girls’ “inner sparkle” by purchasing and watching Disney movies about princesses, it would seem.

The week could be seen as a direct rebuke to the princess backlash, led by writer Peggy Orenstein’s “Cinderella Ate My Daughter.” Orenstein’s book, which came out in paperback in January, examines how princess culture — the practice of swathing young girls in pink and sparkles, buying them princess dolls and encouraging them to think of themselves as royalty — can be damaging to girls’ development.

“Toys have historically communicated to children what we expect of them in their adult roles,” Orenstein told The Post. “So, years ago, girls played with kitchens and baby dolls. You have to wonder what the message of the current crop of toys is to girls — and to the boys with whom they’ll someday be involved.”

Those toys, and movies, are, of course, really what Princess Week is all about. A Disney press release quickly drops the premise of “inner sparkle” and moves on to what’s important: the Blu-ray release of “The Princess Diaries,” the release of a new book, “The Very Fairy Princess,” and “an array of themed merchandise at Target stores and Target.com.”

Themed merchandise aside, parents who want to avoid the princessing of their daughters may be having a harder time than ever. With the Duchess of Cambridge — sometimes referred to in blogs by a cartoonized nickname, “Princess Shinylocks” — in the public spotlight, it’s not just young girls who want to be princesses these days. And that fervor isn’t likely to pass with the coming and going of Will and Kate’s first anniversary.

So how should we “celebrate” National Princess Week? Instead of spending money on princess costumes and tiaras, let’s focus on one thing that princesses do that’s not materialistic: charity work. In recent months, the Duchess of Cambridge has acted as an ambassador of the arts and a patron of charities including a children’s hospital and a center for recovering drug addicts. Make good deeds a part of princess prep, and maybe the phrase “inner sparkle” won’t have to be accompanied by an overdramatic eye-roll.

By  |  04:13 PM ET, 04/26/2012

Tags:  culture

 
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