Princesses, and especially those made famous by a well known film company, get a bad wrap these days. In particular as to whether they are good role models for our daughters. There’s no end of arguments on social media and internet forums.
As a mum to a four year old girl who is growing up fast, I’m acutely aware of trying to give her the best start in life. I’m under no illusions that the world around us isn’t an easy place to live, and probably is only going to get worse when she’s older. So it’s down to me to help prepare her for the challenges ahead, from work to relationships and everything in between.
My daughter is a big princess fan, and likes nothing more than dressing up as her favourite character – currently
Belle Elsa Rapunzel Moana. As with most aspects of parenthood, I worry whether princess-land is an ‘appropriate’ place for her to inhabit. I’ve read enough headlines and posts to make me anxious about it.
I was lucky enough to chat with CBBC and Milkshake! presenter Naomi Wilkinson about what she thinks. Naomi is starring as Cinderella in pantomime this Christmas in Worthing:
Do you think Cinderella is a good role model for girls growing up?
Pantomime has changed since I started performing; I’ve played many heroines including Snow White and Cinderella. The female lead role is constantly being updated. There’s a lot of feistiness and comedy in the role now, but still keeping traits like compassion and kindness.
Cinderella is a great role to play, she’s not sat about waiting to be rescued, she’s all about finding her own happiness.
I grew up loving Disney and I think that Disney princesses can be good role models for girls.
How do you feel about being a role model yourself?
There’s a heavy responsibility on me as a TV presenter, to be someone that children can aspire to be when they’re older.
I think it’s really important to show girls the importance of following your passions, learning your craft and gaining the right skills. All of the performers in Cinderella have earned their stripes, through hard work and performing.
That’s what Naomi thinks – how about you?
For me, I think there are a lot of good life lessons to be learnt from princesses, especially those in modern media.
Look at Belle from Beauty and the Beast, despite the disapproval from her neighbours, she pursues her love of reading and doesn’t give in to Gaston’s amorous advances. She wants more for herself but without losing sight of the importance of her relationship with her father. Belle is also kind, and can look beyond the appearance of the Beast to his good qualities inside.
Aren’t these all desirable traits for our daughters?
There’s also Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, who won’t settle for marrying the suitor with the most cash. But instead when she marries, it will be for love. She knows that there is more to life than sitting around a royal palace all day, even if your best friend is a tiger.
So I think, like with a lot of things in childhood, it’s up to us as parents to guide our girls (and boys) and make sure that they are getting the right moral messages. In the same way that we are now conscious about things like screen time, we should also be aware of what our children are absorbing.
A little princess magic never hurts.
You can catch Naomi Wilkinson along with Ian Waite, Mark Jones and Mark Read in Cinderella at Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre during November and December.