August 6, 2012

Fairy Tales, Princesses, and Entitlement Issues

There is the great lesson of Beauty and the Beast, that a thing must be loved before it is lovable. ~G.K. Chesterton 
I was raised on a hefty dose of Disney Princesses and fairy tales growing up. (It makes total sense given my last name and genealogy.) For a few years of my childhood I watched Snow White every single day of my existence. I'm not kidding. You can ask my parents, and they most certainly will testify. We have documentation of it. I had Snow White dresses from the Disney store as well as matching child-proof dinnerware (if that doesn't say commitment than I don't know what does.) Then my sister came along and we added Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and The Beast to our favorites. To this day we still buy princess movies, and I'm pretty sure I enjoy Tangled more than the average six-year old. (That may be a bit of an over-reaction, but it's a great movie!)

So it came as quite a surprise shock to me when I found out some Christian homes did not promote princess-y things while their daughters were growing up. I'll be honest, I automatically thought, "What?! I bet you hate puppies, rainbows, cotton candy, and you go around telling little kids Santa doesn't exist too!" But then I realized it wasn't fair for me to jump to such conclusions, so I tried to hear these freaks people out. The conversation mostly circled around four words: entitled, spoiled, materialistic, and selfish. I found myself agreeing with their concerns. If we're promoting princesses  in a Toddlers & Tiaras fashion (such a horrible show by the way) or teaching young girls that they're entitled to be treated "royally" then I agree. But to basically "ban" princess play altogether or think princesses are shallow role models is going off the deep end in my opinion.  Cue one of my favorite quotes from philosophy:
Know, first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly. ~Epictetus
Who are we? We are all sinners, young and old. Children are not exempt from this. And because we're all sinners, we're not entitled to a life of royal treatment. What we're really entitled to is death and separation from God (i.e. hell). But, out of God's rich, abundant mercy and love for us, His sons and daughters, He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins so that we may have relationship with THE King and eternal life with Him in Heaven. This is THE great rescue. Even our fairy tales in some small fragmented way echo this: The prince rescuing the one he love, marrying her, and making her his princess. I'm not saying it's a perfect analogy altogether, but some fairy tales do hint at it, and just maybe that's why we like them. Or at least that's what this wise man once said...
We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. ~J.R.R. Tolkien
We teach children that they are sinful, but we illuminate the gospel as well: Yes, we are sinners once dead in our trespasses, but now we're alive in Christ. We're the bride He has taken, washed cleaned, and adorned by Him, in order to walk in freedom and glorify Him. In turn, how does the Christian adorn herself? Colossians tells us to...
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ~Colossians 3:12-17
To break it down, as Christ's daughters, we put off the old self, and put on the new, cultivating our hearts, minds, and spirits in what I'll just call the marks of God's princesses for this post:
  • Compassionate Hearts
  • Kindness
  • Humility and Meekness
  • Patience
  • Forgiveness
  • Position Self/Make Room For Christ's Peace
  • Thankfulness
  • Hide His Word in Heart (Leads to Wisdom)
  • Love
  • Give God the Glory
And on that note, I end with this, for old time sakes...


  1. Wonderful, wonderful post! I really like how you address this issue.

  2. So good, Natalie! I loved every point that you made.

    Side note: Like you, I cringe when I see Toddlers & Tiaras on TV...I hate that young girls are being taught that it's okay to behave like that.

  3. Love love love. Growing up, Beauty and the Beast was definitely my favorite... And it still is! :)

  4. I love this. I work side by side with youth girls (my Husband is a youth pastor) and I am constantly talking about being a princess of God! I will totally be using this post for future reference! It caught my eye from the love love Disney Princess'!!!

  5. I love this! When I was growing up, we were discouraged from liking princesses and fairy tales. It totally didn't work, now I'm a huge Disney princess geek :) I love the points you made about the value of fairy tales. I really do think that princesses can be good role models, and fairy tales do have a place and can serve a purpose :)

  6. I love this. I was never into the princess stuff, though I always did live watching Cinderella. Raeca loves princesses and has them on her potty seat and even her pull-ups, she's definitely more of a girly-girl than I ever was.
    I always live your insight.
    Now I want to watch Cinderella.

  7. Recap: You managed to include a Stoic philosopher, Disney and Colossians all in one post.

    I am very much impressed with this! Great job.

  8. Wonderful post, Natalie! Once again, you hit the nail on the head! ;)

    And I'm with you on the princess stuff! I can see why people have issues with the whole princess thing though I personally don't and likely never will. I think the issues people have are with more "modern" forms of princess hood such as the "Toddlers & Tiaras" show you mentioned (which simply teaches entitlement and vanity). However, most traditional princess stories (or even modern ones such as Tangled which take on the traditional approach ;) don't teach entitlement, in my opinion. Cinderella is selfless and compassionate even to those who persecute her. Belle in Beauty And The Beast becomes a princess only after she learns to love someone for who they are and that beauty is found within (my all time favourite Disney princess!! :) Aurora is a lovely, kind young lady (not at all entitled or aware that she is a princess) and her prince has to use the force of good to fight the evil and bring her back to life. Snow White is sweet and takes care of both the animals and the dwarfs... she does not take revenge on those who hurt her either. Even the modern "Tangled" shows a princess Repunzal who is kind and refuses to take revenge even on the person who has hurt her the most. So I guess I kind of wrote my own mini-blog post here... but I'm just trying to say that not only do I love princess stories, but they go a lot deeper than meets the eye. My future kids will have a good dose of Disney princess movies and the actual fairy tales because I believe they teach important lessons about character.

    Anyway, I love this post! This stuff is so true. Those verses at the end are awesome and the fruits of the spirits are such a good reminder of what we should be... not entitled, spoiled brats, but princesses of the high king striving for the true beauty of our Father.

    Thanks for writing this!


  9. yes! that is one of my favorite quotes. we are only princesses because by grace we are His daughters...therefore a true princess bears the image and character of her Father.


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