Pampering And Grooming Your Perfect Little Princess For A Lifetime Of Appearance-Based Low Self Worth And Gender Oppression.

Recently it came to my attention that mobile princess pamper parties for young girls are a thing these days. I had a gander at the website of one of these businesses because I was really disgusted and more than a little morbidly curious. The packages (which range from $200 – $600 for six “princesses” for 1.5-2.5 hours) offer pink fluffy robes, skincare tips and tricks, makeup, foot spas and magazines. MAGAZINES. If you read this blog regularly, you’ve already heard what I have to say about magazines and why they are an integral part of female oppression, self-esteem issues and bullying marketing tactics. Also, who spends that kind of money on a child’s birthday party? What is this I don’t even. What happened to fairy bread, Fanta and a trip to the movies or the pool? I’m so out of touch.

I understand that parents all think that their daughters are lovely little special princesses….. But parents, you need to keep that shit to yourselves. Little girls who are told that they are beautiful little princesses whilst being pampered and given makeovers, grow up to have a really warped view of women and their places in society, and really poor self-worth focused on appearance. Spa treatments, makeup, magazines, photoshoots and catwalks are adult concepts and should never be introduced to young girls – they have plenty of time to hate themselves and feel like they aren’t good enough later on in life, if that’s what you have planned for them. Although these businesses claim that the parties will make young girls feel like a million dollars, what happens in a few days after the makeup has come off and they aren’t being given pink lemonade in their fluffy pink robes? What about in a few months? A few years? Building a girl up to feel special simply because she is surrounded in pink and wearing makeup (one of these party packages actually refers to the word “makeover”) is not how to make your girl feel special. A makeover implies that there was something wrong with her beforehand, and now she will always think back to the time she felt most beautiful – armed with a buttload of makeup and people surrounding her telling her how fab she is (because they are making exhorbitant amounts of money for doing so).

Later on in life, she treads the path of insecurity, feeling that she isn’t as good as the girls in the magazines, and thinking that only with a perfect hairstyle and flawless skin will she be worth anything to anyone. Eating disorders (of varied severities) and feelings of jealousy toward other women will feed her thoughts as she is now consumed by the new iron maiden – the socially constructed cast that holds women to insecurities, wasting their energy on their looks instead of their potential. The patriarchal system loves this because it is a way to effectively contain women under their own self-imposed glass ceiling. Pay gaps exist because women are taught from a young age not to question or ask what they are worth, whereas men have never been taught that they must quietly accept what is given to them, and will readily negotiate pay rates fiercely. Parents, please understand this: By placing your daughter into the role of the pampered princess early on in life and foisting upon her all of the things that are impressed upon women in society, you are setting her up to create her own glass ceiling, like many before her. You are teaching her that she is nothing but the number on her clothes tags, or the clarity of her skin or the sheen of her hair. You are subconsciously encouraging her to engage in the game of social female oppression as it exists today.

I’m sure that many people reading this are thinking “it’s just a birthday party, calm down”, but the truth is that when it comes to children there is no such thing as “just a birthday party”, “just a bedtime story” or “just a Disney film”. These things are all fundamental in shaping our mentalities from a young age. They all have underlying themes and attitudes which we pick up on in small ways, thus carrying them with us into our adulthood. I don’t know about many of you but I know for damn sure that many things that were said to me in my youth, or subtle messages I received from various stimuli, certainly stuck with me. Just for fun, picture a princess – right now. Got one in your mind?? I bet you didn’t picture a princess with a short haircut, or a princess with uneven skin tone, or even a princess that was any other colour than white. I bet she didn’t have a thick waist or flat chest or any other body apart from a slim hourglass shape. I bet she looked something like this.

Sadly Princess Diana was bulimic - because even she didn't feel that she met up to this expectation of a princess.

Sadly Princess Diana was bulimic – because even she didn’t feel that she met up to this expectation of a princess.

This is what you are imploring your daughters to look like by calling them a princess. This is you subtly telling them that as they grow up, they must try to conform to this ideal, and furthermore you are perpetuating this even further by throwing her a $600 pampered princess party. Children pick up on (and subtly understand) so much more than adults give them credit for.

I know that I seem hardly qualified to comment as I don’t have children, and I’m not trying to give parents marching orders on how to raise theirs – all I want to do is point out some of the things that may not be as obvious to others as to myself. I want all of your daughters to grow up knowing that whichever personal style they choose for themselves is the right one, and furthermore that it is COMPLETELY irrelevant in relation to their feelings of self-worth, for these should in no way be connected. Don’t let them struggle through the same self-esteem bullshit you went through when Cosmo was “The Bible” and we didn’t know any better. Help your daughters smash those glass ceilings and know that they are already da bomb “as is, where is” – it all starts here. Don’t turn your little princess into a little doormat.

Love, Chelle xoxoxoxoxo

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11 thoughts on “Pampering And Grooming Your Perfect Little Princess For A Lifetime Of Appearance-Based Low Self Worth And Gender Oppression.

  1. I HAVE 2 DAUGHTERS THE ELDEST IS 5 AND A HALF. SHE LOVES THE DISNEY PRINCESSES MUCH TO MY DISMAY. I HAVE NEITHER ENCOURAGED OR DISCOURAGED IT BUT IT IS SO HARD TO GET AWAY FROM IT BECAUSE IT IS EVERYWHERE. I CAN’T STOP HER FROM LIKING THEM BUT I MAKE SURE SHE GETS EXPOSED TO THINGS ON THE OPPOSITE END OF THE SPECTRUM (SHE LOVES MOTORBIKES AND ROCK MUSIC!). I HOPE THAT BY NOT MAKING A FUSS EITHER FOR OR AGAINST IT THAT IT WON’T MAKE IT MORE ATTRACTIVE TO HER, AFTER ALL FORBIDDEN FRUIT IS ALWAYS MORE TEMPTING.

  2. I think you have a very close minded and generalised approach to these sorts of parties. I worked as a host for one of these companies for several years and even when I got a full time job I continued on the weekends because it was so much fun. People who know me well were shocked that I, the ‘Ice Queen’ would be a part of this kind of children’s entertainment but the truth is it was a lot of fun and promoted a relaxed environment where all the kids were encouraged to express their individuality, not conform to the princess stereotype. It is tempting to cast the parents of these children (especially the ones in richie suburbs) as something out of those horrible pageant shows you see on TV. In my experience, this was not at all the case. The parties catered for themes such as punk, 70’s, goth and whatever else you can think of and the aim was certainly NOT the make the kids look like tarts or give them beauty tips! The ‘make-up’ was usually lip gloss and glitter and was more like face painting than anything else. We had a few parents that were rightly concerned about what kind of makeup would be going on their kids and what we meant by ‘pampering’ but they were usually comfortable with the fact that it was more of an arty design than actual make up. The boys that attended also got their hair ‘done’ and spray painted and usually asked for some sort of design painted on their face. The most I could seem to master was a spider in a web so at this point I usually handed over to the other host who was better at free drawing than I am. The kids would come up and ask for whatever they wanted and I have to say it was pleasing to see this varied greatly from pink glitter and a tight bun like a ballerina to a messy teased hair style, black nail polish and rocker chic accessories and everything in between. There was never any reference to having a ‘makeover’ or being ‘beautified’.

    As for the money, many of the kids would tell me themselves that usually they don’t get a big party for their birthday, only every 3-5 years or so. We also often had joint birthdays where one family would host, the other would bring the food and they would share the cost. Even if the family did wear the cost of the party themselves, what is it to you?! It certainly does not make them superficial or shallow parents.

    If a child has parents who promote body, beauty and individuality in a healthy way, this party is not going to make a difference to their self-esteem of overall view of themselves. If they have parents who don’t, then the party is the least of their problems. I agree that both males and females need to have a positive association around beauty and body image in all shapes and forms as well as learn the value of intelligence, independence and free thought but making the link between these parties and an unhealthy message is, in my opinion, quite misinformed and ignorant. I’m sure there are some companies out there that do go about this the wrong way but let’s be careful not to generalise and not to judge the parents that arrange these kinds of functions for their children or portray them as monsters. I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. If you would like to know more and have a well-informed perspective on this matter, I would be happy to tell you more about the reality of these parties some time. It is perfectly acceptable to attend a day of relaxing with friends, singing karaoke and dressing up in silly props and still have a healthy perspective on individuality, body image and the place of a woman in society.

    Lastly- of course there was always fairy bread; it’s a child’s birthday party after all!

    • Thanks Lex – I got the comment on my link on FB but I’m glad you posted it here as well so that other readers can see it and hopefully promote discussion

  3. As I understand it, women wear makeup because of a misguided belief that it makes them look better. This idea has taken such a tight grip on our society that a vast number of women will not leave the privacy of their own home without applying makeup, as though makeup is the standard and their natural appearance is not good enough, shameful even. This shame ties directly into ones self worth and at best leads to depression, if not such modern horrors as eating disorders and cosmetic surgery. The difficult fact to accept is that our society leads girls into these overwhelmingly negative thought patterns from an early age by unintentionally teaching them that they’ll never be good enough without the pretty face, the slim body, the ladylike demeanor.

    By writing this article, Chelle is challenging ideas we accept as normal (that all little girls want to be pampered in pink shit and treated like little princesses) and pointing out what should be obvious; that if we want our children to grow up into people who don’t hate themselves simply for being who they naturally are, we need to start taking more care with the messages that we send them. Kid’s little brains are dry sponges that soak up every piece of information around them, gradually forming an understanding of the world around them from that information, but they’re not idiots; they can draw their own conclusions, so when you put makeup on a little girl and tell her she looks good, she’s going to assume that without it she looks bad. So if you don’t want your kids to believe that they can’t be beautiful without cosmetics, maybe don’t hire a pair of beauticians to come to your house and give them makeovers.

    Now nobody is accusing anybody of being a bad parent, Chelle is merely imploring everybody to think harder about the messages your kids are receiving, not just from you but from the toys they play with, from the ads they see on TV and in public places and indeed, from the kind of birthday parties you throw them and the pet names with which you refer to them.

    It’s easy to take it all personally, to take offense and throw it right back by calling Chelle closed-minded or assuming she has taken a personal dig at you, but in doing so you are the one who has closed your mind and opted to attack, to dig and to subtly undermine. Instead, I would ask that you think back to every time you or somebody you know has felt miserable because they thought they simply weren’t good enough and try to understand that this is what we aim to put an end to.

  4. I wouldn’t be a fan of these kinds of things if I had a child. You’re dead right, magazines are the work of Satan! I hate them and only buy them when they’re giving away free stuff. I would wipe my arse on them, but I might get a paper cut on my bum. 😀 x x

    • AHahahha you are me!!
      I always buy ’em when there are freebies. Come on, $8 magazine with a free mascara, that’s a hell good deal – the mascara is $25 on its own !!!

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