The Princess Problem : there may be ways of circumventing it ?

For all the parents like me, out there, sick and tired of the whole Pink Princess thing – as if pink Barbies weren’t enough – there is a good article on Anti-Racist Parents titled : “The Princess Problem : There is more than one way of being pretty” that shoots a much-deserved cyber bullet into the infuriating brainwashing that our children are exposed to, thanks to the mass-marketing of white dolls or white movie characters always getting the “enviable” part of the princess heroine.

The other day, only, I was reading Snow White to my daughters for the first time ever, it seems, and I started jumping words and whole sentences when I saw that Snow White was born with a skin white as snow, which of course made her the most beautiful girl. Problem is : my older daughter can now read, and what worked when she was little, not longer does now. She noticed something amiss, looked at the book, and caught me red-handed. I told her I was annoyed to see white people constantly portrayed as being the most beautiful, because it’s an old lie, and everyone is tired of it, and if some are not, they definitely ought to be. I never know whether my reaction is a good one, when this kind of thing happens. I guess honesty is always right, and even if I don’t convince them, right now, some nuggets of those conversation will hopefully remain lodged somewhere in their psyche. My youngest daughter has taken to saying all the time that she loves her Scandinavian friend’s hair because it’s smooth and platinum blond. I simply respond that her hair is different but just as beautiful.

To go back to the whole princess thing, it’s hard, because I remember being fascinated with princesses, as a child. And living in a totally white world, I never even thought that princesses could or should be anything but white. So, there are two problems in one, really. First, princesses don’t have to be all light-skinned and blond. And second, what’s so enviable about the princess waiting helplessly for the prince to rescue her?

Anyway, that article mentions several titles of books that show princess heroines with brown skin. AND there is apparently a book that also discusses the whole Princess thing by asking a sound and much- needed question : “What does a princess do?” Indeed.

I can’t wait to be in the US, this coming summer, so I can check these books out and buy a few. And they just reduced the baggage allowance on transcontinental airplane journeys. OK, that’s totally off-topic.

To end on another off-topic, it is HOT in Hyderabad !


11 thoughts on “The Princess Problem : there may be ways of circumventing it ?

  1. The original Snow White movie is even worse… they must say “Kill” no less than 10 times. My 5 year old daughter started using it with her friends and I went nutso. My daughter wants to grow up to be a princess SO bad. Thankfully her teacher nipped it in the bud about 6 months ago by telling the girls that they can’t grow up to be princesses, because their mommies and daddies aren’t kings and queens.

  2. Ah, but you can become a princess if you marry a prince, and that’s when things get out of hands, isn’t it ? :)) Thanks for visiting, Jill.

  3. I was born a dark child in a fair and blue/green-eyed family and the only time I felt not quite up to par was in the realm of Snow White and Rose Red et al. It was always the girl with white skin and golden hair whom the prince chose. Quite early on fairy tales taught me that I would never be the princess–but then I discovered gypsies, who looked like me, and my path in life as a restless nomad began.One of my favorite books that addresses the “white is more beautiful” fallacy is “Amazing Grace” by (I think) Mary Hoffman–I’ll check on that. It is a fabulous book for everybody–boys, girls, ancient hags like me…

  4. It is by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Shay Youngblood and can be seen at googlebooks if you put in a search for Amazing Grace. It’s available in Punjabi and Urdu (and more languages) by the way.

  5. Yes, Janet, it’s one of the books mentioned by Deesha Philyaw in her article. I ordered it yesterday on It’s available in Urdu and Punjabi? Not that I can read these languages, but that’s interesting. I’m going to check that out. Thanks for the information. Hope you’re well.

  6. Hi Kaita! A quick note: I enjoy reading your blog (as a new expat from NY now living in London for the past 7 months, writing and thinking of starting a family). I’m writing books that empower children and is at the opposite end of the princess theme- instilling compassion and self confidence in children.  I came across this article: – which I think describes the latest trends that aren’t really much better than the princess fairytale…  what do you think?

  7. Hello Yuisa, and thank you for visiting my blog. I checked the article you mention. It’s hard to give an opinion on a book based on a review, but the themes seem different. I think that anyone can wish to look elegant, and this does not necessarily require having lots of money. My problem with the princess thing is that it conveys the message that a girl needs a man to be happy or anything at all, really, in life. It’s all about waiting for Prince Charming. Grrr !

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