You may have noticed…

You may have noticed that in the previous entry's photo, Kavi is wearing both necklace and princess tiara. Not only is she firmly in the princess phase, but in the last few weeks, she's taken to asking us 5-6 times a day, "Do I look pretty?"

She's generally obsessed with prettiness -- when I put on a pink patterned dress for my date yesterday, first she told me I looked beautiful (nice to hear), and then said sadly that I was prettier than she was. Which I think mostly came down to my wearing a pink dress when she was in shorts, but while I'm happy to let her wear pink dresses, the constant comparisons of who is prettier (she frequently comments that she looks prettier than Anand) are a bit much.

The whole thing is driving me nuts. Should we worry about this? Should we assume it's just a phase and she'll outgrow it? Any suggestions for good responses? We're feeling kind of stuck.

7 thoughts on “You may have noticed…”

  1. It’s probably just a phase, since you and Kevin aren’t pushing the “pretty princess” nonsense. My girls went through a major princess phase around 3-4, and they grew out of it. They still play with their princess stuff, but it’s all mixed in with the Star Wars action figures and Ponies and Harry Potter and Dora and everything else they like too.

    Plus, to a kid that age, “pretty” isn’t really referring to attractiveness, per se–it’s all about the pink and fluff and sparkle. When she says she looks prettier than Anand, she probably just means that she’s got more princess bling on.

  2. This might be a good time to say stuff about there being lots of ways to be pretty and different people liking different things and lots of people liking more than one thing. I don’t hold out a lot of hope that it will make much difference in the short term, but in the long term it might be the kind of thing that it helps at least a little to have heard.

  3. There are some great “alternative” Princess books out there. Princess Pigsty immediately springs to mind. Don’t kiss the Frog!: Princess Stories with Attitude. Princesses are not perfect.

    We have others, but they aren’t showing up on the online search. Basically there are a fair number of princess stories for that age that have a little edge to them…. and that teach things…. and you might have better luck with it sticking if its in the form of a book… I can keep an eye out for more this week, maybe not about princesses per se, but about pretty/perfectionism/etc.

  4. I’ve got an almost five yr old who has been hung up on princesses and specifically the whole “pretty” aspect for a long while now, and yeah, I don’t want to discourage her or shame her for liking femmey things, but I don’t want her to place soooo much value on a traditional model of pretty. So we do a lot of talking about other ways to be pretty, and the differences between “fancy” and “beautiful” and how smart and strong get you further than pretty, and hunting down alternative princesses, or subverting the stories when we play them out.
    Having lots of fancy dresses that we got for cheap or free so she can wear them while doing things you shouldn’t do in your nicest dresses has helped too, because she can wear a fancy princess dress and tiara while she digs in the gully out back for worms, so she can be femme and hardcore. And we do like, superhero princesses.
    I try to frame the whole “pretty princess” thing as just another costume play thing, but the rest of society still is telling her pretty is a value thing, so it’s a lot harder than when they get attached to superhero costumes or dragon suits.

  5. It is a phase and they do grow out of it. Time to pick up The Paper Bag Princess, I think…. Oh, and Prince Cinders.

  6. Good idea about alternative-princess stuff. Another one to add to the list: The Practical Princess, by Jay Williams (not the Jay Williams we know; this one is coauthor of the Danny Dunn books, and author of The Hero from Otherwhere).

    Also of possible interest, though not actually about princesses: Reckless Ruby, by Hiawyn Oram.

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