My best friend from high school (and the one friend from high school with whom I still keep in touch) is submitting a proposal to teach a course on fairy tales with a focus on Cinderella stories* and our society's fascination with princesses. In the closing to one of our emails, she wrote, "If you asked Lucia, 'Beside being pretty, what is it that is so special about princesses?' what would she say?" This is the conversation that followed:
Q: Why do you like being a princess?
A: It’s good to be a princess!
Q: What do you like about being a princess?
A: Pretty things.
Q: Like what?
A: Pretty dresses. Pretty crowns.
Q: What do princesses do?
A: Carry pretty purses.
Q: What do princesses do that is good?
A: Be kind! Don’t whine! Don’t glug juice!
Q: What do you like best about being a princess?
A: Playing dolls.
It was a humbling conversation from my point of view. I'd never talked about princesses as "pretty," and in fact, talked about them more in terms of attempting to get Lucia to do what I wanted a la "Princesses don't pick their noses."
When I was Lucia's age, I was never a princess-- I was always the Queen. For some reason, I equated princesses with marriage, and I was having none of that. I wasn't going to go to college, either. Both marriage and college seemed too grown up, and I still wanted to dress up and play with dolls.
Lucky me. I got to go to college, get married to Bede and I still get to dress up and play with dolls.
April 8 update: Here are two more princess interviews via Librarian Mom (a.k.a. Book, Book, Book) and Crunchy Granola.
*Caveat emptor: Some of the stories listed in this link are not accurate representations of the cultures they claim to represent.