I Am A Princess

Yes, I call myself a Princess.

So many in society are fighting against Princess Culture and have been for years. They say it’s harmful to our girls. They believe it’s misleading for our boys. But I still say I’m a princess – and I think that’s just fine.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been trying to tell people that I’m a princess. Despite my pleas, my father never called me that. In a childhood of hand-me-down costumes, a princess dress never came my way. I was not born into a life of luxury and castles and titles. I was a little girl who dreamed far beyond her waking imagination and in those dreams, I wanted to be a princess.

I would play dress-up in my mother’s pearls and pillbox hat, pretending to be Princess Grace. I would watch her movies all dreamy-eyed, too young to understand anything that was going on but old enough to know I wanted to grow up to be Grace Kelly. I watched the way she carried herself: tall and confident. I listened to her voice: courageous and determined. In her I saw both strength and gentleness. I paged through books with images of her upholding royal ceremony and fighting for those in need. I saw her honor a broken history and demand a better future. I remember hearing that dignity was important to Grace – everyone’s dignity. I wanted to be a princess like that.

I read a version of Snow White in my Little Golden Book as I sat in my blanket fort. I saw a bold woman, cleaver enough to escape the wicked queen. I saw a kind heart who cared for 7 ‘children’ (what 5 year old understands what a dwarf is, anyway?). I learned that trust can be misplaced and jealousy is ugly. I learned about the magic of true love – not of the prince and his kiss – but, the love from her friends. The animals in the wood and the dwarfs cared for her for a year without her being able to love them back. They loved her with no expectation of something in return. They knew they would get nothing in return, as she slept deep from the poison. Who she was to them in their time together meant so much to them that they couldn’t let go. She loved them enough for it to still be felt even in her death-sleep. I wanted to be a princess like that.

I watched Cinderella exude kindness when she was treated horrifically. I watched her do the terrible jobs she was given without letting it change who she was. I watched her dust off the cinders and step into a ball gown, always still being her. I wanted to want that much, to fight for something I believed in. And, yes, I wanted the ball gown (didn’t we all?). I wanted friends who would turn themselves into horses in order to help me reach my goals. I wanted to know my worth no matter how many times someone told me I was worthless. I wanted to be a princess like that.

As a tween, being grounded felt like Rapunzel trapped in the tower by the evil old crone (likely my mother, in my mind). No matter how long they kept me there I was not going to lose hope in what the outside world was like. I wasn’t going to give up on my friends and having fun again someday. Rapunzel kept her faith – without seeing, without knowing – she kept believing. I wanted to be a princess like that.

Yes, I dreamed of a prince to come into my life – not to save me, but to be my partner. I never wanted a prince to fight for me, I wanted him to fight with me. Side by side, we would support each other. He would forgive my past. I would disregard his foibles. We’d ride off into the sunset together.

I never wanted to be rescued, but I wanted to be someone worth rescuing.

I often joke that, although I wear a crown – don’t call me the queen. I don’t want to be the queen because she needs to do all the work and make too many decisions. I don’t want to work that hard – I want to be the princess. But, to me, being a princess isn’t about being spoiled and doted on. It’s not about having things handed to you. It’s about having your hands free to reach out to others. I want to be a princess like that.

I still call myself a princess. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.  I know, some hear it and think ‘high-maintenance.’  But, that’s not me. I don’t want things done for me. I don’t need to be rescued. No matter how old I get though, I still believe in the fairy tale magic that happens when people work together toward something bigger than themselves. Can’t I be a princess like that?

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