“You’re Not A Princess. Prepare For Real Life” was a slogan that appeared late last year on billboards and television stations advertising Mercy Academy, an all-female Catholic prep school in Kentucky. The campaign caught the nation’s attention and with it opened up the debate around princessification of girl’s education. The prep school (run by nuns) tried to explain that these were not necessarily feminist views, but rather their attempt at impressing upon young girls the importance of their education. But the issue united feminists and nuns alike in their criticism of “princessification” , the cultural and educational bombardment that little girls go through that teaches them the value of aesthetic beauty, and to wait for a knight in shining armour, as opposed to gaining the throne for oneself. Essentially the phenomenon of planting in young girls’ heads a myth that the reality of life can simply not live up to. It may seem like overzealous tough love for little girls who enjoy playing with Barbies and wearing pink, but there are good reasons for it.
What Mercy Academy along with other institutions are interested in, is the shifting of girls’ ambitions and life goals in such a way that does not necessarily exclude the princess stereotypes all little girls grow up with, but rather morphs them into achievable and realistic goals. It spares a generation a lot of disappointment. The message is: If you want to be a princess then you’re going to want to study hard, maybe get a degree in international relations with a side of human rights laws. For once we’re siding with the nuns – You’re not a princess. You’re a princess with a career plan.
Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna
Image credits Mercy Academy Kentucky