“Princess party” hostess Jordan Hayes, 22, at Rhythm Street Dance Center in Herndon, says: “I know a dress doesn’t make a headache just go away, but you have to put it to the side and say to yourself, ‘You’re going to make this kid’s day.’ “ (Joseph Victor Stefanchik/Joseph Victor Stefanchik/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

I was constantly dressing up. That was the first thing on my mind when I woke up: “Who am I going to be today?” My mom says I would take off one dress and immediately put on another one, so there would be this trail of dresses. You could follow my mood through the day by following the line of princess dresses. This kind of place would have been right up my alley. I would have loved to come somewhere for a party where the princesses were making sure I had fun, painting my fingernails — and then they let me into their closets.

I host princess parties on the weekend. I have my own crown, my own custom-made gown. I have to curl my hair. I have to look, and I have to act, like a princess. That means I soften my voice and talk very sweetly, just like the princesses in the movies. It’s just a different side of me that most of my friends don’t see. I’m into sports; I can be loud. That’s what is nice about it. I have this place where I can really let my girly-girly side out.

There are days when you don’t feel like a princess. But I swear, every time I put that dress on, and I’ve been putting it on for five years, I feel like a princess. What girl doesn’t want to feel like a princess? I know a dress doesn’t make a headache just go away, but you have to put it to the side and say to yourself, “You’re going to make this kid’s day.” That’s the thing about being a princess: It teaches you how to interact with people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at this Target [nearby], doing my own thing in sweatpants and a T-shirt, and I’ll hear this little voice: “Mommy, Mommy, it’s the princess.” And right then, I have to snap right back into it.

When I train new girls, I tell them that you always, always, always have to smile. And it’s hard: You work two hours straight. I’ll never forget seeing a photo from one of our first parties. In the background is a row of princesses with this stone-cold look on their faces. Who wants a bunch of moody princesses at her party?

The second thing is to never ever lose patience with a child. This is their day. They look up to you so much. You can’t be rolling your eyes because a little girl is having a meltdown. Little girls have meltdowns; princesses don’t roll their eyes.

Little girls see how happy the princess becomes in the movie, and they think: That can happen for me. It’s not about the Prince Charming so much; it’s about the happiness. Ultimately, everyone wants to be happy — and if you get to dress up in a princess gown, that’s just the icing on the cake.