What’s So Bad about Being a Princess?

by Colette Moran

It’s been tough walking the princess line with my daughters. I didn’t mind if some of them choose to dress up — even with a tiara — and dream of someday finding their handsome prince. But of course, I always made an effort to point out that princesses don’t need to be mere damsels in distress needing to be saved. 

Well, those days are pretty much in the past for my teenagers, in the literal sense. Now I  have to guide them as they make their own way and decide how a potential husband fits in. With that in mind, I have mixed feelings about an ad campaign put out by — of all places — a Catholic all-girls high school in Louisville, KY.

A new advertising campaign for Louisville’s Mercy Academy has been generating national attention for the Catholic all-girls school.

The eye-catching ads, made by Louisville agency Doe-Anderson, use fairy tale imagery like glass slippers and tiaras with messages like “Life’s Not a Fairy Tale,” “You’re Not a Princess” and “Don’t Wait for a Prince.”


                                                                                                                                                                                        Photo: Adweek

Another ad reads: 

You’re not a princess. But you can still rule the world. At Mercy Academy, we train girls in the art of critical thinking through a performance task-based curriculum. . . . When women graduate from Mercy Academy, they’re better equipped to overcome any obstacles the world sends their way.

While the campaign has been cheered for its message of empowerment, part of me wants to say — what’s wrong with being a princess? Even in the Disney movies, the heroines aren’t helpless or entitled. Cinderella essentially rose above her circumstances by keeping a good attitude and work ethic (with some assistance from her fairy godmother). And does anyone think the plucky Ariel who stood up to her father, followed her outlandish dream, and fought an enemy side by side with her man went on to be dominated by Prince Eric? Or that bookish Belle suddenly became all about ball gowns and castle living?

And in the real world, Kate Middleton is proving that a princess can be a true partner in a marriage that inspires citizens to do great things for those in need. And here at home, we can teach our daughters to expect to be treated like princesses, while forging their own paths. No need to forego the glass slippers, if you like.

See a photo gallery of all the ads here.

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