Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Princess Culture Isn't Toxic: I Could Have Told You That



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Recently Brigham Young University revealed results of a study that show that "Princess Culture" is not toxic. In my opinion, I didn't need a study to know that. What you are about to read is not-scientific, nor is there a study to support my opinions. Rather, it is an example from creative, imaginative lives. 

When I played princess as a child, I was never a "damsel in distress." Putting on a plastic or paper crown instantly made me stand a little bit taller, transforming me into a regal child. I've also seen my own daughters' behavior change instantly when they put on a dress with a swirl. 

Imagination and creative play as a child greatly influences who we become as adults. Our childhood experiences and ability to dream and pretend pervade everything that we write, create, or say. Creative play and imagination is not childish; it is a key component to our success as adults and influences our ability to lead and innovate. 

People who can dream, imagine, and pretend don't put limits on themselves. I was fearless as a child, and remain that way today. Whether it's moving to another country, traveling solo, or simply being unafraid to take on any task that I can imagine. I never hesitate to share an idea and don't shy away from discussions.

People who dream have empathy, understanding, and experiences that are not their own. By imagining myself in other worlds, I could see things from multiple points of view. Even during this pandemic, there were moments when I felt trapped, but then remembered how truly terrifying Anne Frank's time in hiding must have been. My cabin fever or pandemic fatigue pales in comparison. 

In every classic fairy tale, there is a battle between good and evil. Disney princesses faced some pretty scary situations. A stepmother who wants to kill you? Being kidnapped and locked in a tower? Being poisoned by a witch? Yikes! Some of Grimm's fairy tales aren't for the faint of heart, and are actually quite terrifying when seen in the most literal context. Children being eaten by a witch, check. Children being led off of a cliff to their death, check. Someone stealing your first born child, check. But from an early age, I knew that there was good in the world, but I also knew that there was evil, too. It's not all roses. 

I'll never forget a staff development meeting from a few years ago, the curriculum specialist asked us to share our childhood dream profession. As the responses around the room went from firefighter to astronaut to dancer or actress, you could have heard a pin drop when I responded. "I wanted to be First Lady of something." My supervisor repeated the question and said, "You wanted to be what?" 

To which I replied, "First Lady, or Queen, or something along those lines. I would be able to help people and work with children and help the sick and needy, but I'd have an incredible wardrobe while I got to do that."

My dream is somewhat fulfilled, but life is a work in process and imagine never dies. And I'll never be a damsel in distress unless I need a tall person to help me get something down from the top shelf. 

Embrace your inner princess and be strong, no matter how old you are!

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