I get it: you have kids and you love them so much you just want to give them the world, or whatever comes closest to it. But sometimes giving your kids whatever they want in life comes at a price. In the case of Virginia dad Jeremiah Heaton, that meant traveling halfway across the world to Egypt in search of an 800 sq. ft. plot of unclaimed land along the Sudanese border and decreeing it his own. Or, rather, his daughter Emily’s. That’s Princess Emily, to you. See, then six-year-old Emily really wanted to be a princess and instead of just buying her a princess costume or throwing her a princess-themed birthday party or, I dunno, telling her that being a princess is not all it’s cracked up to be, Heaton decided his little girl should not be denied her title. Heaton began with an online search of unclaimed lands around the world and then in June, he made the trek to Egypt where, with the permission of authorities, he visited the unclaimed parcel of land known to locals as Bir Tawil and (unofficially) declared it hers. On June 16, Emily’s 7th birthday, Heaton wrote on Facebook:
“Therefore, so be it proclaimed on June 16, 2014, Emily’s 7th birthday, that Bir Tawil shall be forever known as the Kingdom of North Sudan. The Kingdom is established as a sovereign monarchy with myself as the head of state; with Emily becoming an actual Princess. I kindly request that when you see Emily, to address her by official title, Princess Emily. Each time she hears this title she will be reminded of my love and the lengths I will go to fulfill her every wish. Thank you in advance for being a good sport in supporting my humble request of you.”
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Andrea is taking a much needed week off from her Hitched column this week, after spending the last few days reporting live from the Texas State Legislature as they attempted to rid the state of nearly all its clinics that provide abortions. (Thanks to Senator Wendy Davis and the rest of the “feminist army,” they failed.) So this week, I’m rerunning one of Andrea’s first Hitched columns, originally published on November 2, 2011.
Wedding dress shopping. Here’s what happens to me: I walk into a bridal salon and tell the nice maternal saleswoman that I want a tea-length gown with no flowery accents. I am ushered into a dressing room where I am told that they have one tea length gown, it is covered in flowers, and did I want to try on, say, this $1,500 satin gown with a 14-foot train? For funsies? Repeat nine times. Nine. Nine.
“This is your one chance to be a princess!” one saleswoman told me. When I explained to her that my “princess” vision actually, like, seriously really did include a tea-length dress and she was just going to have to see if she could manage to wrap her mind around that, this total stranger looked at me like I had just shot her kitten point-blank in the face in the middle of the dress shop.
So, I went to the custom dressmaker. I told her what I wanted. She said she could totally do that, but she wouldn’t start the dress until next year, even though we’re getting married in April. Why?
“So you have time to get your weight where you want it.” Keep reading »
Last week, I wrote about how bummed I was that the heroine of Disney’s “Brave” is undergoing a makeover before she becomes an official Disney Princess. Her unruly hair is tamed, her figure is slimmed and the Scottish Princess is a much sexier version of the character millions grew to love.
I was only one voice in the outrage over this sex-ing up. Writer and co-director of “Brave,” Brenda Chapman, who was the first woman to win an Academy Award for this animated feature film, wrote the Marin Independent Journal in an email:
“Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance … They have been handed an opportunity on a silver platter to give their consumers something of more substance and quality — THAT WILL STILL SELL — and they have a total disregard for it in the name of their narrow minded view of what will make money.”
Change.org brought the issue to my attention and garnered the signatures of at least 200,000 people. When looking at Merida’s swank new Disney Princess page, which uses the original Disney-Pixar animated character, it looked as if the outraged public had won.
Alas! Not quite true … Keep reading »
At some point in the life of many little girls and some little boys there comes the cold, hard realization that you cannot be a princess when you grow up. Think about it: do you really want to spend the rest of your life like Kate Middleton abusing brown eye liner? I thought not. A new clip from “Sesame Street” breaks it to those booger-eaters with the help of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Keep reading »
Last week we watched an interesting social experiment on the TV show “What Would You Do?” where actors playing a mom and kids went to a Halloween costume store looking for non-gender-conforming costumes. A little boy begged to be a princess and a little girl begged to be Spiderman, while nosy shoppers (mostly) discouraged the kids and their mom from those costumes. So I was delighted to see an actual real-life mom write a piece for the New York Times this weekend about the time her three-year-old son wanted to be a princess. And interestingly, her concern wasn’t that he wanted to be girly — it was that all the princess junk out there didn’t take into account her son is black.
Doreen Oliver writes that her older son is autistic and struggles to communicate. So if her younger son wants to express himself in any way, even by dressing up like a princess on Halloween, she and her husband will support him. And, she adds, “[I]f it turns out Bug is gay, we’d embrace his identity.” The problem wasn’t that Bug wanted to be a princess, though — it was that “his idea of a princess had blond hair and peach-colored skin” and sure enough all the princess costumes had blonde wigs and pictures of “smiling white women.” Keep reading »
“Disney is releasing a Latina princess soon, mija,” I declared to my daughter as we drove away from her school and on our way to pick up her dad. “Good!” she said firmly. But of course, I rarely let that be the end of any conversation. “Why good?” I probed.
What followed was a discussion of how we both recognized that Latinas deserve a princess that looks like them — this is despite the fact that my husband and I worked hard to minimize “the princess effect” in our home. Princesses were far from banned. Rather we opted for a different approach: we emphasize strong princesses like Leia, Wonder Woman and Xena (not a real princess, but warrior princesses counted). I also would bring up real-life princesses who did good in the world whenever I could. Oh, the way I used to bring up Princess Diana and Queen Noor! Goodness. We also discussed the strong traits of the Disney princess kingdom: Ariel was adventurous, Belle loved to read and Rapunzel knew how to wield a cast-iron skillet. As you can see, we aren’t anti-Princess, but we are anti-”I’m a pretty-princess waiting for a prince to save me.” Keep reading »
I have a love-hate relationship with “What Would You Do?”, the so-called ‘reality’ show that hires actors to enact controversial situations in public to gauge the response of random people. I don’t actually watch the show, but every time I read about one of the show’s episodes online — What will happen when this neo-Nazi group sits down at IHOP? — I’m off to the races to watch the shit out of that thing.
It’s inevitable, really, that they would do a show about Halloween and little kids costumes. Get your little black hearts ready: an adorable boy is going to find out from some busybody ladies at a Halloween store why he can’t be a princess for Halloween. Keep reading »
Rebecca Hains, best be known these days as the woman who got busted by the TSA for trying to take a red velvet cupcake through airport security, is, in her real life a media studies professor at Salem State University and author of Growing Up With Girl Power; Girlhood on Screen and in Every Day Life. She is also mother to a little boy who loves “My Little Pony,” a show, Rebecca says on her blog, that, like the beloved Powerpuff Girls, appeals equally to both sexes, defying the notion that boys/men won’t watch stories about girls/women.
I have to admit I’m not a “My Little Pony” aficianado — my daughter was never into them and I recalled the old show as being inane, and largely about selling toys (the fact that the ponies were revived for the Hub, a TV station owned by Hasbro, and are skinnier and “prettier” in their new incarnation only reinforced those impressions). Creator Lauren Faust writes on the Ms. Magazine blog that she was not initially a fan, either:
[Shows based on girls’ toys] did not reflect the way I played … I assigned my ponies and my Strawberry Shortcake dolls distinctive personalities and sent them on epic adventures to save the world. On TV, though, I couldn’t tell one girl character from another and they just had endless tea parties, giggled over nothing and defeated villains by either sharing with them or crying – which miraculously inspired the villain to turn nice. Keep reading »