It was bound to happy sooner or later. Try as we might to shield Ruby from the infectious outside world, we knew that eventually she’d be exposed. Sending her to preschool only increased the odds, and now, finally, it has happened: she’s been invited to a Disney Princess Birthday Party.
Kate and I both anti-princessification, for reasons I’ve mentioned before. Looking at the cheap invitation (printed at home, not Officially Licensed Merchandise) a whole new objection sprang to mind: they’re posers. Literally — all they do is pose. They’ve been stripped of their original, entertaining and worthwhile myths and stand inactive and vacant. Instead of watching their actions, you should just watch them… as they do nothing. Added to our original objections over the cultural appropriation, incessant marketing, pressure to conform, and rigid gender roles and segregation, and you can guess how we want to RSVP.
But ultimately, we decided she should go. These are friends she sees at school every day and it’s good for her to also see them outside of school. And she’ll be exposed to the princess culture whether we like it or not, so at least one of us can go along and frame her experience in ways that we think are important.
Still, we’re not going down without a fight. And so, gender roles and pretty princesses be damned, it is I who will be escorting Ruby to the Disney Princess Birthday Party. I won’t be surprised if I’m the only non-related adult male in attendance.
Actually, I’m kind of looking forward to it. Ruby is just starting to learn how to play with (instead of alongside) her peers and it’s a pleasure to watch her social skills develop. I don’t get many opportunities to watch her play with her schoolmates — complete strangers (to me) she’s developed complex personal relationships with. It’s fascinating to see her trying to flex her leadership muscles, or be polite and kind, or be totally socially oblivious.
I’m sure Ruby will have fun, and I’ll do my best around the grown-ups, and this little foray into the world of princesses will soon be forgotten amidst our summer of swimming and building and jumping and thinking.
Oh, and the invitation encourages children to wear costumes. Do you think Princess Ladybug will work?