Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine: Child development expert weighs in on little girls who love to play princess

MILWAUKEE -- Do you need to rescue your little girl from all the pretty, pretty princesses? Everywhere you turn their smiling faces are everywhere -- bandaids, diapers, water bottles -- but is that a bad thing?

Child development expert Jessica Lahner with Carroll University joins Real Milwaukee to talk about the princess culture.

What are girls attracted to princess play?

Developmental Explanations

  • At 2-yrs old, children have developed gender categories (boy, woman, etc.)
  • At this same time, many girls are identifying themselves as part of the 'girl' group.
  • A combination of nature (e.g., hormone levels) and nurture (messages they`ve received from their environment) tells girls what 'things' girls do: what types of clothes they wear, what games they play ...
  • Playing princess is an extension of that female identification

The Risks:

The risks come into play when we allow the hyper-princess stereotype to influence our girls` perceptions of themselves and what it means to be a girl.

Traditional princess themes include:

  • Beauty as being girls` primary asset
  • Even though this has reversed in newer movies, research suggests that girls who identify as a 'princess' grow up placing more importance on physical appearance than girls who do not
  • Girls as submissive to and rescued by boys
  • Even today, male characters in Disney movies have more speaking lines than female characters
  • The size difference between male/female characters are unrealistic and perpetuate this notion
  • Girls who hold these beliefs tend to limit themselves in what they think they are capable of
  • Promotes love at first sight and that this love will solve all your problems

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