I have been so lucky to have a lot of incredible experiences offered to me as a blogger. It’s nice to have those perks when you’ve got $.04/hour writing job with no insurance benefits or retirement savings plan. But I have to say, one that’s up there at the top of the list was having tea with Julie Andrews this week.
Okay, so it was a press conference with tea on the snack table, but. But! The Julie Andrews part was real. I have photographic evidence. Also a gift bag with a boa in it.
To answer your questions, yes she’s beautiful. And kind. And gracious. And funny. And she did the queen’s wave ever so perfectly with those gorgeously long fingers. Her favorite family movies that she ever made were The Sound of Music and Thoroughly Modern Millie. And later, when she told me she’d been admiring my earrings the whole hour, I just about slid off my seat and onto the conference room floor.
I was invited there with other media folks on behalf of Target and Disney at the start of National Princess Week (yes that’s a thing) and the launch of her newest Very Fairy Princess book which she co-authored with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton– quite the remarkable woman herself.
Now I love Target with all my heart, which very well may have a red bullseye on it somewhere. If I go there one more time, they’re going to set up a house account for me. But still, you could imagine that I was a bit ambivalent about even more princess marketing, even as I’ve stop worrying and learned to love the crown.
And so I asked Julie Andrews (JULIE ANDREWS!), and Emma, who happened to be there with her own young daughter, how we raise strong, confident independent girls in a culture that’s so saturated with princesses.
I asked really nicely, I promise.
And their answers were terrific.
Because they didn’t talk about tiaras. Or even princes. They talked about values.
-Princesses are involved in charitable causes
-Princesses are kind
-Princesses are patrons of the arts
-Princesses make their friends feel good about themselves.
And I thought ya know, she’s right. And that’s the problem with this whole princess culture thing that’s going on right now–it stops at the tiara. Not that I don’t love a good tiara; I own one myself. But think about the real world of princesses and the causes they’re committed to:
Like Princess Diana‘s remarkable early support of people with AIDS, followed by the same from Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Princess Beatrice‘s commitment to literacy programs for inner city children. Queen Rania’s work with the White Ribbon Alliance. And Queen Noor‘s support of a host of incredible non-profits, from the Daniel Pearl Foundation to the World Wildlife Fund to Women Waging Peace.
I even get the sense that Julie Andrews very much lives these values herself, although she’s a Dame, not a Princess. (Close enough, in my non-British opinion.)
So maybe if our daughters are going to prance around in polyester glitter capes, practicing their curtsies, we as parents have an opportunity there. Perhaps when we join in the role playing, instead of asking are you excited to marry the prince and live in a castle? We ask, so, what charity should we help out today?
And we ask, can you say something kind to your sister right now?
And then we tell them to sit up straight.
I’m totally going to try it.
Thank you Julie. Thank you Emma.
You may now resume singing Doe Re Mi in your head right now, like I have been all week.