I wasn’t brought up to be a princess, and neither, I thought, was my daughter. As a kid, Barbies and any other doll that subconsciously made me want to be blonder and thinner was contraband. And having been raised an average feminist woman in the US of A, I thought that I’d moved beyond having to consider all things pink and princess-ish. In keeping with my own upbringing, we live in a commercial free TV less household. My husband and I do things pretty equally in regards to bringing home the paychecks and the childcare. We've given her plenty of toys that 'build the imagination' like Legos and Magna-tiles. So why would she rather spend a day in a garish pink costume with a tiara than just about anything else?

Already I’d steered clear of the Disney Princess Phenomenon. Any character growing up without a mother, ineffectual lame father, whose big dream come true is marrying some non-descript personality less Prince was off limits for any daughter of mine. Yes, relatives have been rolling their eyes and I did think it okay that we used Princess pull-ups so my daughter could urinate freely on Disney products. But I’m afraid the careful grooming of a third generation feminist child is not quite what we expected. So…how is it that my daughter wants to be a princess when she grows up? Why when I succumbed to buying a Barbie did she choose the blonde over the brunette? Why does she prefer Cinderella and Aurora over say Belle or Jasmine or Mulan? And why does she ask me if her hair will turn yellow when she’s older?

Disturbing, to say the least. I think about all the girls not growing up with feminist mothers and grandmothers. Geez…what the heck are they buying? Bratz with thong underwear? Barbie the Hooters edition?

A fellow traveler mom in the keeping the kids out of the commercial radar suggested telling my daughter what a princess really is: someone waiting for marriage with few if any choices as to how she’ll live her life other than to marry someone. A slave of the court. “I tell my daughter that being a princess means living for others and living for the sole purpose of people viewing and judging you on your beauty.” Ouch. Not sure my three year old will get that either. She’s precocious but I’m not sure we are ready for a full rant against the patriarchy just yet.

And with that definition, how far have we really come from feudal lands and princesses? Are we not still judged by appearance? Do we not instruct our children by our own actions to live for others (for what else does a mother do)? Am I not guilty of breeding well to have cute children? Am I….at fault..for the madness that is my daughter’s princess obsession?

I can’t bring myself to ban princesses and Barbies the way they were banned for me. I grew up wearing boys clothes and now look at me. I haven’t spent a day in anything but a skirt or a dress since ninth grade. Sugar was banned for me too and look at me now----I have the biggest sweet tooth. Maybe I’m going to have to sit this one out.

Still, we are attempting to rotate dolls so that the multicultural ones—the black ones, Asian ones, and Latin American looking ones spend some quality time at the top of the toy box. We’ve taken to watching as many children’s dvds with non-blondes as possible in hopes that might alleviate some of the blonde worship (that’s harder than you might think).

As for the princess dresses of which we seem to have an aspiring collection, I’m not sure anything can be done. We have Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella, and Ariel the Mermaid. At least she added Fiona from Shrek in the dress up box as a favorite. Asked what Fiona does and Paloma replies, “she goes ‘hi-ya’ (Paloma motions a karate chop) and gets the bad guys.” Why can’t all princesses be that way?