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On the soccer field.

My little girl was the first to the nets.

Little Girl has been asking to play soccer for about a year now, as unbelievable as that sounds. We’d drive past the field and she’s squeal and ask me to stop the car. Now that she’s three, I decided to sign her up for a local program. We recently had our first session.

She was so excited on the way there. So much so that when we got to the field she didn’t even look back, running right over to join the other kids — four boys and three other girls. Once the coach explained the rules (for example, you don’t move unless you hear the whistle), she got right into it, running, kicking, and scoring goals.

I was impressed but not surprised to witness her athleticism. The kid is FAST and nimble and precise. She was the first one down the field with her ball, and the only one I saw getting behind the ball when it get away from her. Everything was going great until it was time to do an obstacle course: jumping from hoop to hoop, climbing through two upturned goals, and then kicking the ball into the goal.

“Okay, let’s let our princesses go first,” said the coach in his thick English accent. I sat there incredulous that he would engage in such blatant sexism when his program stresses that it “creates a supportive and positive environment.” How is it supportive or positive to belittle girls by calling them princesses, which are generally soft, sweet, and quiet. After all, you don’t see too many princesses running down a field wearing cleats.

Now, before you call me an annoying feminist harpy let me say that I wouldn’t have such a problem with the word “princess” if the coach called the boys “princes.” But he didn’t. They were “fellas” and “guys,” a fact I mentioned when I emailed the program director to point this out, along with the following note:

“You might think this is nit-picky or that I am being annoying bringing this up. However, by calling the girls “princesses” you set them apart from the boys. You make them different. On the soccer field they are not princesses. They are athletes, albeit small ones. Calling them princesses sends a very negative message, and one that separates them from the boys. I’m sure the coach means no harm, but there is harm since my girl and all of the girls on the team will fight against those stereotypes all their lives. My “princess” ran circles around a good majority of the boys. She should have the courtesy of being called something that denotes equality. Maybe you could bring this up to the coach in a positive, non-threatening, non-judgmental way? (Overall, I thought the coach was wonderful with the kids aside from this one issue.)

I should have added that I don’t mind my daughter being treated like a princess at Disney World or when she’s playing dress-up, but on the soccer field, she should be treated like what she is and what she will become if given the right lessons and confidence-building verbal instructions:  a kick-ass running, jumping, and scoring machine.


3 Responses to “Don’t Call My Daughter a Princess”

  1. Marya says:

    I just stumbled on your blog when performing a google search regarding this topic. I couldn’t agree more! The teachers at my four-year old daughter’s preschool call her a princess all the time and it troubles me so much. Perhaps equally troubling is that they just don’t see the harm in doing so. When did it become insufficient to simply be a little girl, or a special girl, or even a sweetheart.? Why isn’t that enough? I don’t want my daughter believing she is a princess now or ever. Like you said, princesses sit around being quiet and pretty worrying about what dress to wear to the ball. I hope for my child that she instead uses her brain to find new types of energy-development, or to learn the teachings of Plato or Aristotle, or to paint a beautiful picture….or anything at all that makes her happy while challenging her to live to her fullest potential. Additionally, the word princess carries with it the connotation of being selfishly demanding regarding petty matters such as one’s hair and nails. I do not want my child to grow up thinking those are things in life that she should be concerned with. Are those things a part of life? Yes. But should a toddler be geared to think about those things? No! And you are right…we don’t call our boys princes! I feel like we as a society are doing so much harm to our little girls and most people don’t see how these little connotations add up to big mentalities later on. I’m very happy to see that someone else “gets” it.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I also just stumbled upon this blog post and I am happy to have read this! I am not a parent yet, but if I do have a daughter one day, I am dreading the inevitable pretty, pretty, princess onslaught from friends and relatives. Bravo for emailing the program-director. Many moms who feel the same way would probably just grin and bear it. I hope that the email helped, but if nothing changed, your daughter is still lucky to have you in her corner.

  3. Joanie says:

    I’m desperatly trying to find moms (and dads) who express the same feeling I have. Just like you, I hate when my daughters are called princesses, I have shivers all the time. It seems our little girls can’t have a mind of their own these days, I’m under the impression that 95% of parents caught the Princess disease, acting like zombies when they are under the influence of a puffy pink chair with princess faces on every side. I juste want my daughters to live in a wolrd where pink is a color like every other and they don’t need a tiara to go to bed. Thanks for sharing your story, I feel less alone.

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