Maria Rodale, chairman and CEO of Rodale Publishing, recently asked in her blog, “Where are all the Disney princes?” She points out that while Disney has “capitalized on and profited from the innate desire of most young girls to be princesses,”
if you go to Disney, there are no prince costume stores. No prince makeover salons. No princes you line up to get your picture taken with.
Even generic holiday costume catalogs have avoided the entire prince category. Boys can be superheroes or serial killers, pirates or zombies…but no one seems to be enabling little boys to be princes.
Maria’s point is that, in the midst of the glitz and glamour, princess play presumably teaches girls about other values such as honor, loyalty, kindness, and faith. Where are boys learning those values? It’s interesting what different responses readers had — one woman takes issue with the generalizing that girls long to be princesses, saying, “I wanted to be a cowgirl . . . I never wanted to be a princess and still don’t.” Another talks about raising a son to be “a little prince,” happy because he recently defended “the honor of a little girl” on the playground.
One reader has this theory:
I do however agree that’s disturbing that there are no princes in stores, and apparently very few at the actual parks. My reasoning for this is that just as some parents are afraid that princess means “spoiled” and “pampered” many fathers fear that prince means “weak”, “feminine”, and “prissy”.
So what do you think? Why is a boy dressing up as a knight preferable to dressing up as a prince? Is it the elements of finery to a prince costume? – satin capes, fringed epaulets, poufy sleeves? Is it an association of nobility, diplomacy, and manners (sipping tea, eh what?) with weakness? Is it that, despite the effort of Disney to create stronger, more autonomous princesses, they are still descended from a long tradition of the princess as passive and sexual objects, and it is uncomfortable to place boys in that space?