The Problem with Princesses (and Princes too)

I am predominately referring to the animated variety, you know the type: the princess’s lifelong happiness is contingent on being rescued, the poor prince a mere means to an end.

Allow me to elaborate. Cinderella has it pretty tough right? At the mercy of evil step-ma and step sissies, psychologically battered and bashed, physically pushed to ever more housekeeping extremes, her only hope of release is her fortuitous attendance, facilitated by magical godma, at the local kingdom’s female exhibition ball.

You know the rest: across a crowded room, blah blah, prince doesn’t even learn her name until after the shoe fits, (lucky for her she’s the only gal in the neighborhood possessing itty bitty feet), they marry and live happily ever after… So what’s the problem?

Only the underlying theme of powerless girl incapable of taking control of her own circumstances. Get Out Of The House! Leave. Go. Now. She could open her own cottage cleaning business, be a live in housemaid for someone who pays– why stay in the matriarchic abusive environment?

And the rest? Snow White? Victim. Sleeping Beauty? Victim. The Little Mermaid? Victim. Jasmine? Victim. Even Belle from The Beauty and the Beast is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.

Exceptions? Pocahontas, absolutely. Although in truth when she met Captain John Smith she was only thirteen, not quite the svelte young woman Disney portrayed. I wish I could add Mulan, but technically she’s not a princess and the addition of the comedic male dragon does diminish her as an example of self-reliance. And the new gal on the block? The frog princess? I will admit to being pleased to finally have an African-American represented, but she falls into the trap of hoping that a philandering egomaniac (the prince) will change his ways through the love of a good woman.

So why does it matter? When a million+ girls watch the movies a million+ times while deciding who they want to be, there’s bound to be an impact. I’ve seen that impact firsthand as friends and family buy into a $million+ industry that touts cartoonified girls with muppet-proportioned faces, big hair and obscenely tiny waists on everything from backpacks to dishware. Pretty princess faces pasted everywhere.

Rib-ResectionHow about keeping some perspective? To get that waist you have to remove a few ribs from your lower ribcage. (picture credit “Bizarre Plastic Surgery from Elfin Ears to Rib Resectifin,” Ben Goldman, April 29, 2009, )

To be rescuable (invented word) you need to forgo that kickboxing self-defense class you were thinking about taking. You should wish upon a star for true love to magically find you rather than putting yourself out there, and why pursue college, career and independence- won’t prince charming take care of all your needs?

And what of all those really great guys that are not quite princes and not quite charming? Should they be passed over just because they don’t want to or can’t save you? Absolutely not! But trying to live up to princely expectations: prefect hair, chiseled features, and prowess with a blade, has got to be intimidating– I bet a lot of the good guys don’t even put their hat in the princess’s ring, so to speak.

So ladies keep it real– the guy working along side you cleaning pet cages at the local humane society could be “the one”, but not if you’re waiting to be saved. I’ll take the guy who prefers my low-maintenance ways, large thighs and sloppy house-keeping skills– but in exchange, I better be accepting of his less than perfect visage, economy car and propensity to belch his name.

In the words of Cameron Diaz, “I’d kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs.”

For the love of words…

So, oddball that I am—I am in love with words. Not any word(s) in particular, I’m not picky—I love them all. Each has the vivid promise to stimulate the senses. I love the way they play in my mouth when I speak them or scatter across the page when I write. Might you love them too? Here’s an experiment for you. When no one’s looking, close your eyes. Oh wait, you better read the instructions first. Okay, now close your eyes and slowly, fully, deeply breathe in the word “passion”.

Can you smell it? Like jasmine cast on a warm, humid breeze? Can you feel it rush across your skin? If you can, Mnemosyne, the Titan goddess of words, might just have seduced you.

Words are irresistible. Some are ostentatious (ooh there’s a nice one); some simply sanguine (alliteration is kind of fun too, though a few find it fantastically frustrating). And let’s not forget, deep drum beat please… “Boom, Boom, Pow!”–The Black Eyed Peas…onomatopoeia.

There is great power in words, either standing alone as in “heartbreak” or strung together into the perfect phrase as in “To be or not to be– that is the question…”–William Shakespeare.

They persuade in our vast marketplace: “Tide® keeps on working after other suds have quit!” (Hmmm, well some words sell better than others) and inspire generations: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”–Martin Luther King Jr.

They motivate nations: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”–John F. Kennedy And galvanize armies: “Better to fight for something than live for nothing.”–George S. Patton 

And incredibly, words can transform lives: “For God so loved the world…” John 3:16

Love words, or loathe them? You may hate them, or have hated them in a post-bullied past. You know that schoolyard chant, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…” Bogus right? Cuts and bruises eventually heal, but words? They can disseminate lies, intolerance, and hatred.

Ever read/hear the following phrase? “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”–Adolph Hitler 

Scary words right? Makes me wish some who speak would choose not to—lucky for us, we can choose not to listen.

Words can sting, even shatter, especially if the hurtful words come from someone we care about. But truly, don’t the words uttered say more about the utterer? (utterer=invented word, love those too, although they get your a** kicked in Scrabble®). The words you choose to throw around identify who you are, reflect your character—set the tone of your existence.

Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. Consider the girl who chats about the acquaintance of a friend of a friend. I’ll call her Ashley for demonstration purposes only.

Ashley: “Did you see what Amanda is wearing? Her clothes are to die for—I mean to die in, LOL !

What have you, the observer/reader already determined about Ashley simply based on her choice of words? Is she pompous? Petty? Cruel? Or insecure? Is she transferring her own unhappiness on to Amanda to make herself feel better? Raising herself up at the expense of another?

And as long as Amanda relegates the value of Ashley’s words below that of tree limbs then no harm done, right? Ashley should simply shed those little nasty words like dead skin.

“Toughen up Ashley, they’re only words after all,” said the psychological expert who defends that stupid stick phrase.

“NO!” Now there’s a word of power and choice, useful in so many circumstances.

“No—I can’t buy that bridge you’re selling, No—I won’t talk trash behind anyone’s back, No—I don’t ___________(insert activity of choice), No time for that, No—but thanks anyway.”