In Whatâ€™s Wrong With Cinderella? in the New York Times Magazine, feminist writer Peggy Orenstein bemoans her three-year-old daughter’s princess complex.
To call princesses a â€œtrendâ€ among girls is like calling Harry Potter a book. Sales at Disney Consumer Products, which started the craze six years ago by packaging nine of its female characters under one royal rubric, have shot up to $3 billion, globally, this year, from $300 million in 2001. There are now more than 25,000 Disney Princess items. â€œPrincess,â€ as some Disney execs call it, is not only the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created; they say it is on its way to becoming the largest girlsâ€™ franchise on the planet.
Orenstein worries about the stereotype, but wonders if she’s just a second-wave feminist in a third-wave world.
Maybe princesses are in fact a sign of progress, an indication that girls can embrace their predilection for pink without compromising strength or ambition; that, at long last, they can â€œhave it all.â€ Or maybe it is even less complex than that: to mangle Freud, maybe a princess is sometimes just a princess. And, as my daughter wants to know, whatâ€™s wrong with that?
Girls who love to play with princess dolls consider Prince Charming an accessory, Orenstein writes. The prince stays in the box till he’s needed for the wedding kiss. That certainly was true of the Ken doll.