Written by Jennifer L. Hartstein, PsyD, and a regular contributor to CBS’s The Early Show, the book highlights something called “princess syndrome,” which essentially develops in girls who are repeatedly exposed to the message that outer beauty is more important than inner beauty.
Half way through the book, I began to take critical inventory of my daughters who are 14 and 4, and all the things that have contributed to them becoming princesses instead of heroines. I am reeling from my discoveries. How did this happen?
|A picture Juliette drew Bridgette|
Hartstein does a tremendous job of explaining this journey to me, and as you might have guessed it’s strongly rooted in ancient fairy tales, contemporary society and the beast we know as advertising. While I’ve always known allowing my kids to watch cartoons and children’s shows would expose them to product marketing, I had no clear understanding that companies were intentionally using age compression tactics to sell stuff. In other words, marketers study what interests older children and then sell it to younger children because they know younger children want to be like their older peers. Sick!
The good news is, Hartstein offers real solutions and tangible resources throughout the book. I am already implementing several of them including how to peel back from materialism and entitlement. The notion that we deserve whatever we desire could not be further from my own spiritual convictions and faith foundation.
Still, because things did not come easy for me, I’ve worked hard to make things easier for my kids. Hartstein illustrates how such elements are not found on the heroine trajectory. Instead, they define the path of a princess who defines herself and her self-worth by how other people see or perceive her.
There are some really cool resources in the back of the book, which include healthy princess play ideas and children’s books for heroines. I can’t wait to pick up some of these including Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen. She rescues a group of boy scouts. I love that!
Face the Mirror
Ultimately, Princess Recovery made me take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask myself if I am doing what I need to be doing in order to raise girls who can thrive despite a society that values outer beauty over inner beauty. Moreover, am I who I need to be? Am I more heroine than princess? Are there adjustments I need to make to bring my attitudes and opinions more in line with my core beliefs? Don’t I owe this much and more to my precious daughters? After all, I can’t authentically help them navigate the injurious swamp of an airbrushed world if I’m longing for photo-shopped perfection in them or me.
Finally, Princess Recovery has given me a heightened awareness of subtle influences on my girls. From this day forward, I will be more vigilante about their exposures, and I will do what Hartstein suggests, and that is to write companies when they engage in age compression marketing tactics that are not appropriate for their target markets.
Are Legos your daughter’s friend?
Just today, I was looking up information on the new Lego line for girls that debuts January 2. I was excited about it because I thought it would help me move my daughter closer to heroine and further from princess. But, I was stunned and disappointed by what I discovered. Despite the fact the target market for the new Lego Friends Heartlake City line is girls between 6 and 12 years of age, the characters — Mia, Emma, Andrea, Stephanie and Olivia — all have boobs and hips.
Get Princess Recovery ASAP. The demand for heroines is as high as the supply is low.
Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of Princess Recovery for review purposes, and was not financially compensated for this blog post.