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You too can be a professional princess
August 31, 2012 4:55 AM   Subscribe

"Little girls are AWED by a princess. A woman in a big, sparkly, puffy dress is a thing of power and glory to them. They will stand and stare, or scream themselves hoarse in excitement, or become paralyzed in wonder by A Princess. Some little girls start hyperventilating. Some just sit down on the floor, their knees giving out from under them. They run up to touch your dress with the same crazed look of a Twilight fan trying to touch that Edward Cullen guy at a movie premiere. It's so different from seeing a face character at Disney World because to them, Disney World is a far-off fantasy place full of strangeness and unreal scenes. But this is A Princess, in the real world, in their own home."

On the SomethingAwful forums, AssassinPrincess tells all about how she became a Disney princess for hire, with illustrations. Surprisingly polite for Something Awful.
posted by MartinWisse (148 comments total) 127 users marked this as a favorite

 
This reminds of a short story (SF I think) that I read about Princesses playing roles in a theme park but it had something to do with science fiction. The magic was real but under control or some such.

Ok, now this comment is close to turning into a bad Ask. But the FPP could be the synopsis of the story is what I'm saying.
posted by infini at 5:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Princess Fact #7: If a host house has more than three full-size bathrooms in it, the group of attending little girl guests will contain at least one little girl named Skylar. This a bizarre but irrefutable fact. And it will ALWAYS be a different Skylar, no matter how close the house is to the last party.

Awesome.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:12 AM on August 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


We have tried, tried, TRIED to keep the PrincessTM crap from seeping into our daughters' worlds without going so far as to move them away from making their own choices, but goddamn, to watch their little faces at a wedding when a bride comes down the aisle, that is fucking POWER!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:29 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is fascinating: Lots of crazy kid-talk comes out of left field, but some of it us easy to predict. In between the Greeting time and the Story time in any house party is what I call the Catalogue. Little girls will start to rattle off every item of princess merchandise they own in great detail, then move on to general Disney toys and movies, then recount every viewing of every princess movie. It never fails. Little boys seek to baffle princesses with weird questions or impress them with feats of parkour-esque agility. Little girls try to appease them with faithful consumerism. If one girl starts a Catalogue, the other girls will chime in with their own, talking above and over each other. With ten little girls to the average party, it soon becomes a deafening buzz of materialistic glee. this is usually a good time to say, "WHO WANTS TO HEAR A STORY?!" in the perkiest, loudest tones possible. Otherwise the Catalogue will go on indefinitely.
posted by Houstonian at 5:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


Princess fact #7 - For the cohort of my youngest child, it's Mia and Taylor ... a few years up it's Olivia and Dylan ...
posted by tilde at 5:30 AM on August 31, 2012


"My boss has very strict guidelines for our behavior. We must smile ALWAYS, every minute of the party (hard to do until you get the hang of it), we must be always entertaining, we must act as if we know the birthday girl (we're told her name and age before we arrive) and are good friends, if they tell us they 'saw us at Disneyworld', we agree and pretend to remember them. We have to be graceful, walk with good posture, always polite, and apparently always talking. I have a set number of filler comments to use if I can't think of anything to say, including *girlish giggle*, "Oh my!" and the old stand-by, "how wonderful!"

"(This has become an embarrassment to me lately because it carries over to my regular life...I caught myself doing the "fill the silence with adorable laughter" thing with friends once. It's kind of awful.)"

Yikes. Reminds me of David Sedaris as a Christmas elf. And now I am imagining him as a party princess.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [14 favorites]


It could be worse. I don't mean working as a princess. There are worse things that could be presented to little girls to latch onto. I accept this. I accept the cloying sweetness and the unrealistic fantasy of it. I accept that at least once a week and more like four times a week my daughter will turn to me and look at me with dreamy eyes and say, "you and mommy kiss and are **married** and happily ever after."

I accept these things because after watching Brave I knew I could walk her into a bookstore and pick out a reading book based on it that was at least a grade above where she is and she would sit down and read it with determination and reread it many times. And that when her teachers at school have her working on a list of sight words that she fights, I can get her to work with words like "archery," "highlands," "transformed," "Merida" and so on because they are authentic in her world.

So I can, in full honesty, say thank you to the ersatz princesses of the world because when you provide this or this or this, you are providing incentive for my daughter to read and to write and this I believe more than anything else will help secure her a foothold in a world that currently doesn't expect either.
posted by plinth at 5:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [52 favorites]


This is a link to every response by the original poster in the thread, if you just want to skip to the content.
posted by codacorolla at 5:41 AM on August 31, 2012 [24 favorites]


And yes, we must be in character 100% OF THE TIME. Even to the parents. If we call to get directions from them, we will say, "Hi, this is Cinderella! I want to let you know I'm almost to your party, but I'm having trouble finding..." We are in character to the point of pretending not to always understand stuff that doesn't exist in our world, like TVs and phones.

I would have thought that a smartphone would be costume de rigueur for any princess worth her salt nowadays. What little girl would be awed by a Princess who doesn't have an iPhone?
posted by three blind mice at 5:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


at least one little girl named Skylar

I blame Good Will Hunting. Or maybe Schuyler Colfax.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:51 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


With ten little girls to the average party, it soon becomes a deafening buzz of materialistic glee. this is usually a good time to say, "WHO WANTS TO HEAR A STORY?!" in the perkiest, loudest tones possible. Otherwise the Catalogue will go on indefinitely.

All I can think here is I wish I could do this in my office. (Just replace "materialistic glee" with "intrigue and recriminations" and "little girls" with "middle-age bureaucrats.")
posted by psoas at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


What strikes me as sad is that in many these parties, the parents aren't present. They're in the other room catching up with friends, or talking with relatives. Other families have all the grown-ups in the same room as the princess, watching the action, playing the games and videotaping everything. The very wealthy parents often have to be called inside from the patio or gazebo, because their precious baby angel is about to blow out the four candles on her birthday cake without them. People like this love their children just as much as anyone else, I don't doubt it. But they're so used to getting their way in life, thinking money can save any bad situation, that they don't understand how much they're missing in their kid's life that they will never get back. Maybe they think time passing is for regular people and the rich have time-machines available, so they can go back and see their child's 3rd birthday if they miss it the first time. Or, since they have nannies and tutors, maybe they just don't know how to entertain their own children. Maybe entertainment is something you can only buy from professionals, not make for yourself. It must be horrible, feeling awkward around your own child.

The worst moment I've ever had at a party, bar none, was a party for just such a family, where the parents were out in another room with the other adults. They didn't watch any of the princess performance, didn't take any pictures of their little girl with the princess and they basically just checked in to see the candle-lighting bit for the cake. Then they had a few words with the caterer and left again to go sit on the patio and have drinks with friends.

When I left the party soon after that, I hugged the little girl goodbye as I usually do for all children. She gave me a really tight hug around the neck and said, "I love you, Cinderella. I really do." It was clear she didn't get a chance to say that to her parents very often...or maybe she didn't hear it from them enough. I never felt so bad in my entire life.


I did not expect to tear up like this while reading the thread. :-(((
posted by fleetmouse at 5:56 AM on August 31, 2012 [48 favorites]


My niece, who is turning six this week, has been crazy for princesses for the past two years. Recently, however, she has developed a passion for dinosaurs, which in my view is a huge improvement.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:56 AM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yeah, that got me too
posted by MartinWisse at 5:57 AM on August 31, 2012


As a parent of a now 16 month old little girl who is currently most interested in just exploring the world, I DREAD the potential of this phase. My only hope is that she's one of the ones who has a frilly pink dress with some kickass boots on underneath. Her current fascination with mud (and the tasting thereof) gives me hope.
posted by mfu at 6:00 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Our daughters Princess Phase lasted 3-4, surplanted Thomas and was eventually surplanted by Star Wars, My Little Pony and Superheroes. That period was also the peak of he interest in pink things. She also was into the Disney faries stuff, which I think of as a different thing, and that hasn't really gone away but at the same time was never nearly as girly as Full Princess.

All in all I think it's a perfectly normal and healthy phase that I'm glad to have behind us. No idea if number 2 will be the same.

And Assassin Princess sounds awesome. I will have to track down her work sometime.
posted by Artw at 6:10 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


All in all I think it's a perfectly normal and healthy phase that I'm glad to have behind us.

Oh, I totally agree that it's a completely normal exploration of the meaning of femininity. I just wish it wasn't so horribly over commercialized and crammed down our kids' throats!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:14 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I blame Good Will Hunting.

Possibly. IMDB says 1997 for the movie; Baby Name Voyager says 2000 for the first "Skylar" peak.
posted by pracowity at 6:17 AM on August 31, 2012


I have two daughters among my four kids, and the youngest is now in a ballet/princess phase. This morning she wanted to go to pre-K with her new Tinkerbell skirt on. I am all for it, but warned her that it could get wrecked, so she left it at home.

Will this last forever? Nah. So we're enjoying it with that in mind. What will come next? No idea!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is her Wikipedia profile: M. Alice LeGrow
posted by Harald74 at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, we've never been to a party with a princess but we've been to parties at Moon Paper Tent for parties a couple of times and that's been great - basically its a party space where kids dress up and an actor/storyteller leads them through an improv story/kid LARP and a couple of craft activities before cake. I think engaging kids like that is a specialised skillset and these guys are really good ar it - the kids get totally focused on it, which is hard to achieve at that age.

To a lesser extent they also skirt the copyright thing as well, as princesses and faries are frequent requested themes. I think they keep stuff broadly generic and let kids supply the specifics there a lot of the time, because kids don't give a shit about trademarks - though they probably also like to keep things fairly open so they have more creative room.
posted by Artw at 6:35 AM on August 31, 2012


This is her Wikipedia profile: M. Alice LeGrow

You know, she might not think so but she's had a hell of a lot more success in comicbooks there than a lot of people in the field.

She should totally draw this article up as a book, it'd be a hit.
posted by Artw at 6:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Disney really has us by the short hairs in certain spheres of life, such as this.
posted by thelonius at 6:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Disney really has us by the short hairs

Who knew that getting the copyrights to our ancient cultural mythos would give them so much power!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


At least it creates jobs. I mean, cast member positions.
posted by thelonius at 7:04 AM on August 31, 2012


Nice to hear that Triana gets some play. Poor old Pochahontas and Mulan.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on August 31, 2012


Great post, thanks.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:11 AM on August 31, 2012


I thought this was touching:

But what we give is so much more important. We give magic to the little girls who will never see Disney World, because it's too far away and too far out of the parents' budget. These little girls love Jasmine and Ariel and Cinderella just as much as the others. They dream of being well-off and royal, and it's even more poignant a dream for them, because they have so much less than the others. Why should they have to pay a fortune to fly to California or Florida just to meet a princess? We do what the parks can't do...we bring the magic to them. To lower class kids, to kids in hospitals, to kids with special needs who can't travel far. They deserve magic too. And we bring it to them. We drive in rush hour traffic in a hoopskirt, we pump our own gas with both hands and a pair of opera gloves in our mouth to keep them clean, we haul boomboxes and storybooks around, we dole out pizza and cupcakes and get shedded on by dogs and change between gigs in rest stop bathrooms and put our false eyelashes on, bleary-eyed, in the medicine cabinet mirror in the morning.
posted by pjern at 7:12 AM on August 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


Agreed, pjern. She's a very good writer. I agree with her about poorer kids being better behaved. The kids on the playgrounds in East Harlem were some of the most polite and considerate kids you could ever ask for.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2012


"My boss has very strict guidelines for our behavior. We must smile ALWAYS, every minute of the party (hard to do until you get the hang of it), we must be always entertaining, ... we have to be graceful, walk with good posture, always polite, and apparently always talking. I have a set number of filler comments to use if I can't think of anything to say, including *girlish giggle*, "Oh my!" and the old stand-by, "how wonderful!"

I witnessed this first-hand with my (autistic) son three months ago when Snow White came out and visited with him on the night that Snow White's Scary Adventures closed permanently at Disney World. Snow White just never, ever stopped. She was animated, smiling, and talked non-stop during the entire experience. My son ate up every moment, he was so deliriously happy, and Snow White was so absolutely on point for the entire time that it was literally exhausting to watch. I have a world of respect for the actresses who are able to pull that kind of thing off and create such an amazing experience for the kids.

(Don't want to derail or self promote - look for my Mefi Projects post a while back if you are interested in more info about that night)
posted by Lokheed at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


Poor old Pochahontas and Mulan.

Our older daughter has been learning Chinese in school and it had been an avenue out of princessdom as she was getting more into Chinese culture and language. Then she somehow found out about Mulan. Her reaction was akin to, "you mean there is a Chinese princess and you bastards didn't tell me about this sooner?!?"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


The whole class thing that she talks about really hits me right in the nostalgia.

Here's another one from the post pjern quoted:
One thing that strikes me is that the lower income the parents have, the more well-behaved their children are. This isn't bias, it's fact. The very wealthiest little kids, no matter how initially enraptured, will lose interest after thirty minutes and actually go play with their dollhouses or want to play on the swingset. They don't have the attention span to commit to a princess because they're constantly flooded with new toys and distractions by their parents and they don't see a Rapunzel visit as anything other than a new kind of toy, to be quickly tired of and left alone. They're not bad children or brats...they're very nice kids. But they're so over-saturated by their parents that nothing really has special meaning to them anymore, at least not for long.

The very poorest children, the ones whose parents are renting a princess because they could never afford to go to Disney World, those children are wonderful. They will sit and listen to you politely through the whole spiel. They know this is a special treat that their parents worked for and they don't intend to take a minute of it for granted. They're the kids I work extra hard for and remember. The middle and upper class children always have a party full of little girls in those 80 dollar Disney store dresses, with all the accessories. The less well-to-do children's parties are always in normal clothes, though a lot of the children wear their church dresses for the occasion. It just breaks your heart to do a party for them, which means so MUCH to them, then turn around and do a party for little Sienna-Jayden-Madison, who is completely jaded by the age of four and can't even focus on a five minute story before she becomes bored and distracted. The parents of less well-off children tell us that their little girl will spend months talking about the time Cinderella came to her house. The very upper-class kids forget about the princess while she's still IN their house.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:21 AM on August 31, 2012 [40 favorites]


I can't wait to get home from work and read this SA thread. Thanks for posting it, MartinWisse.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:23 AM on August 31, 2012


I love forum threads like this where someone has a weird life and writes so thoroughly about it. It's so strange to see such permanent writing in an ephemeral medium like SomethingAwful or Reddit (or Metafilter); these writers should be publishing books!

For some context, here's about the origin of Disney Princess™. And this NYT Magazine article has more detail and feminist critique.
It was about a month after Mooney’s arrival that the magic struck. That’s when he flew to Phoenix to check out his first “Disney on Ice” show. “Standing in line in the arena, I was surrounded by little girls dressed head to toe as princesses,” he told me last summer in his palatial office, then located in Burbank, and speaking in a rolling Scottish burr. “They weren’t even Disney products. They were generic princess products they’d appended to a Halloween costume. And the light bulb went off. Clearly there was latent demand here. So the next morning I said to my team, ‘O.K., let’s establish standards and a color palette and talk to licensees and get as much product out there as we possibly can that allows these girls to do what they’re doing anyway: projecting themselves into the characters from the classic movies.’ ”
posted by Nelson at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


They're in the other room catching up with friends,

It is sometimes good to power down the helicopter.
posted by BeeDo at 8:05 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hey, Lokheed, that was you? That story made me choke up and smile at the same time. As much as I bag on Disney for their copyright gluttony, I can't set aside the fact that they sometimes really do make magic happen for kids, who are most open to that kind of experience.

My wife wants to take the herd to Disney World sometime, and I completely support that: it's days and days of expenses and fatigue and overstimulation -- and yet it's also unmatched for the open-mouthed wonder that it gan engender in the little ones.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Oh, [a party clown] was once hired for a bachelor party. They didn't want him to do anything weird, just they wanted to get shitfaced drunk with a clown. He ended up getting hammered and making balloon animals for the strippers. "

Am I weird for thinking that this would be hilariously fun?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


wenestvedt - Yup, that was my son. It was an amazing night. Whatever people may think about Disney being a corporate beast, or about the whole Princess thing, I have seen up close just how much power there is in making magic for kids who could really use a little pixie dust in their lives. Bravo to people like AssassinPrincess who make that happen.
posted by Lokheed at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really hope she collects these into a book. Like I said in the thread, I think it would go over like Kate Beaton's Hark A Vagrant did.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do not have an SA account. Most of the time, I do not want an SA account. Threads like this (and some other things, and the fact that I am apparently an SA meme, thanks to a picture of me in a friend's art project) make me want to get an SA account. This thing is all kinds of heartwarming awesome, and AP's style of storytelling + art really makes it.
posted by Alterscape at 8:55 AM on August 31, 2012


We had trans awareness training at work yesterday and someone said being a princess was not an actual job. DENIED.

However, I, like Peggy Hill, have feet so large that friends have suggested shopping at the transexual stores. (When I searched shoes on eBay to gauge what search terms to list mine with, I kept getting 'TS/TV/' in all the results...) I also sing tenor. Perhaps if there's a faux-queen princess industry, I could be totally fabulous.
posted by mippy at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2012


Possibly. IMDB says 1997 for the movie; Baby Name Voyager says 2000 for the first "Skylar" peak.

It's Freya, Olivia and Milo/Max for boys in the UK. When I was a kid in the 80s, there were always multiple Gemmas and Emmas.
posted by mippy at 9:12 AM on August 31, 2012


Who knew that getting the copyrights to our ancient cultural mythos would give them so much power!

If you want to tell a Cinderella story, or a Goldilocks story, or a Sleeping Beauty story or a Rapunzel story or whatever the hell you want from our "ancient cultural mythos" you can go right ahead and pay Disney no heed whatsoever. Unless, of course, you actually want to tell it using their costumes, their music, their lyrics etc.
posted by yoink at 9:13 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


"It's a yuppy name, I'm guessing. Right up there with Jayden, the second most-popular yuppy little girl name we encounter."

Now that's interesting, because here Jayden is seen as a lower-class boy's name.

I was also interested by the reference to Disney face characters being restricted by age or height. I always presumed that the main criterion was to resemble the character, but are there other restrictions too?
posted by mippy at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2012


Recently, however, she has developed a passion for dinosaurs, which in my view is a huge improvement.

... and will make for a much more awesome wedding
posted by kurumi at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I live down the street from my two nieces, who both had princess parties. The younger niece, who had the first party, picked Rapunzel. Cuteness was indeed off the charts, and I heard a lot about Flynn Rider, although I could only stay at the party briefly. My older niece then had a princess party centered around Belle from Beauty in the Beast. When I got there to see my nieces, it turns out that Belle and Rapunzel were played by the same woman. (Evidently, there is one woman who has cornered the market on princes parties in our area.) Anyhow, I couldn't help thinking how hilariously ironic it was that I could immediately tell I was looking at the same woman, but my nieces were definitely not noticing any resemblances. I had so much trouble suppressing my need to snicker that I had to bite my own hand, mumble some apologies about chores at my house, and get out of there before I spoiled any of the "magic."

In other words, not only does the emperor have no clothes, but sometimes the new princess is just the old princess in a different wig.
posted by jonp72 at 9:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid in the 80s, there were always multiple Gemmas and Emmas.

My college newspaper used to publish the list of new pledges for the sororities on campus each year. One year one of the sororities got 20 new pledges, and I swear, OH MY GOD, 14 of them were named Jennifer!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking as the owner of a young female human who despises princesses but loves fairies, note that there is a huge difference between the two kinds of storybook characters. While the various and sundry Disney-movie princess (and princess-like) characters tend to bend (but not break) their filly gendered roles in their single-minded quest to marry the man of their dreams, the fairies (like Tinkerbell, Vidia, et al) all have jobs, work together to figure out problems, and generally kick ass. And none of them get married in the end -- and some probably never will, if you catch my drift.

Plus, the fairies' outfits are better. (Vidia = vavavoom.)
posted by turducken at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


God, her custom costumes for little girls (page 7 of the thread) are SO beautiful. Last week some friends and I were talking about the official Disney wedding dresses that came out a while ago - I could see hardcore Disney fans paying a fortune for adult-sized versions.

I think the US had a Jennifer/Heather craze around the time that we had Emmas - I've only met a handful in my life, I think. A friend of mine is called Mia, which is now a really popular name amongst toddlers.
posted by mippy at 10:17 AM on August 31, 2012


We have tried, tried, TRIED to keep the PrincessTM crap from seeping into our daughters' worlds without going so far as to move them away from making their own choices, but goddamn, to watch their little faces at a wedding when a bride comes down the aisle, that is fucking POWER!

Some girls never outgrow that princess love.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:22 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's also www.firepixie.com, which sure, does the Princess thing, or the explorer thing, or the Jedi thing, but for adults, they also do *fire*.
posted by Mattachine at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2012


I think my boss employs around 50 girls, but that's because of the age group...many are in college or busy with high school, so she has to keep a lot of girls on the books to make sure someone is always available for a party.

We often do solo, but many parents will hire two or three princesses at once so sometimes we do group stuff.

Because I'm an ass, I have to say that out of context, a lot of her questions don't sound like she's selling what she's selling. The obvious parallels, actually, between princess work and... um... someone from the companion's guild* -- like always turning down food and never saying no -- are really something a talented writer like her should address.

I also love that she mentions being Supergirl as well.


* I've been re-watching Firefly this week.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:49 AM on August 31, 2012


sevenyearlurk: My niece, who is turning six this week, has been crazy for princesses for the past two years. Recently, however, she has developed a passion for dinosaurs, which in my view is a huge improvement.
No doubt!

Snarly, dangerous, exciting - their bite is fierce, sure, but they can use their sharp claws to terrible effect. Thick hides (which some say should be colorful, even feathered, but I'm old-school), rapacious appetites, and, as so many movies have taught us, once they lock on their prey there's no stopping the hunt to its pitiless end.

Dinosaurs, on the other hand, are beautiful, noble creatures.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:01 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


"Yes, A/C, Indoors, Keep the children inside until the princess arrives, Yes, Uh huh, yes... but will Alice bring her own Opium Hookah or will I need to supply that?"
posted by wcfields at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My niece, who is turning six this week, has been crazy for princesses for the past two years. Recently, however, she has developed a passion for dinosaurs, which in my view is a huge improvement

Probably not a lot if difference from a kids view. If you are a princess or have a princess friend, no one in the neighborhood will mess with you, your brother will likely be turned into a toad or melted, your parents will have to let you stay up late and your teachers won't make fun of you ever again. If you have a dinosaur friend same same.

Never underestimate how much of a small child's inner world revolves around meting out vengeance and smiting various people. Probably you.
posted by fshgrl at 11:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


> I blame Good Will Hunting. Or maybe Schuyler Colfax.

Not Breaking Bad?

posted by mmrtnt at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Skyler White frowns on your yuppie shenanigans.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps if there's a faux-queen princess industry, I could be totally fabulous.

The term you'll want to search up is 'bio-queen'.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:46 AM on August 31, 2012


The closest I've ever come to an encounter with a Professional Princess was at Disneyland's California Adventure in 2005.

A woman in her mid-twenties was dressed as Cruella DeVille and slowly walking the broad street in Hollywood Land.

She was simultaneously gracious and imperious when asked to pose for pictures. She was very pretty and her ability to hold character was unnerving.

I immediately had a crush on her even though she was half my age.

She frightened me a little.
posted by mmrtnt at 11:49 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will . . .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh man, I wanted to do this sort of work back in Brisbane but they all required a car and I can't drive. Also with my appearance the only one I could do would be Jasmine.

Faux-queening is what burlesque is for.
posted by divabat at 1:09 PM on August 31, 2012



We have tried, tried, TRIED to keep the PrincessTM crap from seeping into our daughters' worlds without going so far as to move them away from making their own choices, but goddamn, to watch their little faces at a wedding when a bride comes down the aisle, that is fucking POWER!


I've been in casts of Gilbert & Sullivan plays featuring princesses.

When the cast comes out after curtains to greet the audience, if there are kids there, they will run to talk to Princess Ida (or Zara, or the princess of Monte Carlo...)

It's amusing and horrifying.
posted by ocschwar at 1:40 PM on August 31, 2012


If my parents had hired a princess to come to one of my birthday parties when I was a little girl, I think I would have been terrified, for the same reasons that some people find clowns to be really creepy. I mean, do these kids *actually* think they are real princesses?

I adored Disney movies (though I never had a "princess" phase), but I don't remember ever thinking the stories were anything other than fiction, just made-up stories whose characters were fun and exciting but who only existed within the story's arc. I'm not sure I particularly like this idea of parents encouraging children to relate to fairy tales as if they were part of reality (and a reality to be emulated), going so far as to bring in a "real" princess who has to act in-character at all times, so as not to break the illusion. I'm fine with the idea of hiring a professional princess, but leading children to believe that she's the actual character seems like it just takes advantage of children's innate gullibility in the name of fostering "imagination", creativity, magic etc. But actual imagination, I think, is being able to conjure up fantasy worlds and be enchanted by the world of fiction, despite knowing very well that it's not real.

I don't think it's particularly harmful to little girls. It just seems kind of unnecessary, and I sort of suspect that, as with Santa Claus, a lot of children only pretend to think they're real so as not to disappoint their parents!
posted by adso at 3:07 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


One little girl I noticed was in the center of the dancing group, just holding her arms out to her side and her face up to the heavens, eyes closed in what looked like some sort of princess-overload/religious experience. Over and over, she would lift her arms in a slow, graceful manner up to the air, as if she fully expected to be raptured up to Princess Heaven at any moment, ascending in a shower of glitter and fairies.

Now I'm just imagining a Brazilian Umbanda ritual, only instead of worshipping the indigenous deities, they're all dancing and going into religious trance while possessed by the spirits of Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White...
posted by adso at 3:21 PM on August 31, 2012



What strikes me as sad is that in many these parties, the parents aren't present. They're in the other room catching up with friends, or talking with relatives.


I don't understand what's so profoundly sad or terrible about this.
posted by sweetkid at 3:38 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a special moment for the kids. I'd want to be there...

On the other hand, time when kids are engaged and you get to talk to actual adults can be in short supply too, so...
posted by Artw at 3:43 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can see how parents might take advantage of having all the kids engaged in order to relax with other adults. On the other hand, it might make sense to have an adult in the room who is allowed to say no.
posted by ckape at 4:01 PM on August 31, 2012


I was also interested by the reference to Disney face characters being restricted by age or height. I always presumed that the main criterion was to resemble the character, but are there other restrictions too?

From what I understand, some of this has to do with scale. The "face characters" (people not wearing masks) are expected to be within a certain height range so they look to be of appropriate size compared to other characters. (Alice is shorter than most of the "adult" princesses)
posted by Fleebnork at 4:30 PM on August 31, 2012


Mmrtnt, my experience with a character at Disneyland was with the Big Bad Wolf sometime in the early 70's. He didn't say anything, just gripped my hand. What else could I say? "Hi, BBW"

The adapted Disney character I most wanted to be when I was 5 was Peter Pan (who excepting the Disney versions is traditionally played by a woman).

The latest Olivia picture book depicts her rebelling against princesses "Even some of the boys!".
posted by brujita at 5:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I worked as a penguin for a while. I was mainly employed at a theme park, but did birthdays and other (including corporate!) events too. The suit was so big and pear-shaped and bouncy that when I fell, I just rolled helplessly back and forth until someone grabbed a flipper and helped me up. And I fell a LOT because mobbed by small children.

It was a great job, actually. Everyone was happy to see me, adults included. The only skills required were waddling and waving. And occupational health and safety regulations meant that I could only be in the suit for half an hour at a time before retreating to a break room and taking half an hour to recover. So I could study or do something else for half of all the work hours, and still got paid for the full amount.

The best bit was riding to events on the bus (because I was a student and had no car, and there is no way I could have ridden a bicycle in that thing). We weren't meant to get changed at the event in case kids saw us arriving with the suit, so I had to ride the bus all dressed up. Which meant no ability to talk or use my hands. Fortunately the bus drivers would never charge me a fare.
posted by lollusc at 6:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [50 favorites]


Photo of me in my penguin suit.
posted by lollusc at 6:27 PM on August 31, 2012 [48 favorites]


What strikes me as sad is that in many these parties, the parents aren't present. They're in the other room catching up with friends, or talking with relatives.

One of my university jobs was hosting birthday parties at the national science centre, and I would say "away" parents generally made up somewhere around a quarter of the parties I hosted.

I was kinda down on it at the time for the reasons she elucidates (it's worth noting that since becoming a parent, my judgmentalness about parenting has both dramatically declined and become far more nuanced - those parents paid good money for me to host the parties, and the poor, exhausted bastards were probably desperate for a break. Maybe I'm projecting...) - as a party host there were positives and negatives to it:

+ If the parents were the interfering, over-bearing type, it was great they would hang out in the cafe, so I could - if needed - be firm with the kids. Weepy kids are generally a lot more robust without hovering parents around as well.

+ If they were away I could just do my shit (the routine) without them messing up my pacing, the jokes, the structure (we crammed a lot in those parties so it was necessary to stick to structure otherwise things would be missed).

- I generally tried not to be too much of a hard-ass (it's someone's birthday after all), but if the kids were truly terrible and/or started throwing food or destroying shit, they tended to take admonishment from parental figures more seriously than the dude with balloons stuck to his head and no truly legitmate means of punishment. (though what really sucked is when the kids were just destroying the place, I'm trying to reign them in, it's like sending Henry Kissinger into a room full of meth-addicted wolverines, and the parents are just watching these Satan-spawn devolve in front of them. What. The. Hell.)

- I lived in constant fear that one of the kids would tell their absent parents some terrible, fantastical story of horrible abuse or cruelty they endured at my hands, and they would be the type of moronic parent that would believe any old shit their kid served up. Sans any adult, I would be in a sticky situation vis witnesses.

The other thing I hated was age-inappropriate parties. Trying to entertain a group of 12 year old boys with content aimed squarely at eight year olds was, frankly, a fucking nightmare. I abandoned the routine, showed them the coolest shit I had, and let em out into the centre early. Interestingly the twelve year old girls very kindly pretended to be entertained by my antics and gleefully allowed me to join in their gossip about the cute boys at school and which teachers were the best.

Abandoning the script for the 3/4 year olds was also a necessity sometimes (there is always a kid at that age with a balloon-popping phobia, sometimes the birthday child. What kind of sadistic MF parents would book a party called "Balloonatics" for such a child is beyond me..). Thankfully, young kids are as entertained by funny dancing and pratfalls as much as SCIENCE! so it was never as big a deal.
posted by smoke at 9:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Folks shouldn't fret too much about the princess phase, honestly. I dreaded it, and was faintly disappointed that my daughter latched onto it (entirely on her own, with no contribution from me AT ALL) but it didn't last more than a year or two, and now at nine, she is disdainful in the extreme about that kind of stereotypical femininity.

One thing that can be fun, though, when your kid starts going on about princesses is to spend some time googling real princesses with them. The glee with which I showed her photos of Princesses Margaret, Fergie and Beatrice!
posted by looli at 9:14 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was a little misunderstanding early on in the thread linked that left me feeling weird: she hasn't done a boy's party because she isn't male? I think that's mistaking the tone of the question a bit, and kinda made me stop reading. I understand that SA isn't exactly the most progressive of all the internets, but I feel like "girls can like pirates, boys can like princesses" is pretty mainstream by now.
posted by zinful at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2012


Aaaaand I read a little further. Looks like that was gently remidied and addressed. Now I feel like an asshole for implying the Goons are totally uncivilized.
posted by zinful at 8:47 AM on September 1, 2012


Sir, your penguin seems to have a golden wattle.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:29 AM on September 1, 2012


It turns out that human skulls are very scary and they eat blood for breakfast. They get the blood from their shelves, which in turn are stocked with blood purchased at the Scary Blood Store. Vampires also shop at this store, but they don’t shop at the same time as the skulls because this would cause a conflict. Vampires also bite skulls and suck their blood, but (and this is key) only after the skulls have had breakfast. Otherwise there would be no blood in them. Once the vampires drink their blood, the skulls are hungry again and must go to the store.

You learn something new every day...
posted by decathecting at 9:48 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sir, your penguin seems to have a golden wattle.

Emperor penguin, with slippage.
posted by lollusc at 5:49 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want a copy of the pissed-off-princess-at-the-window drawing.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:15 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


And based on some comments there, she's reading this thread. AssassinPrincess, if you want a Mefi account, I will be happy to gift you one as long as you promise to comment in this thread.
posted by jeather at 8:02 PM on September 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really enjoyed reading this.
posted by shelleycat at 9:43 AM on September 2, 2012


My recollection is that when someone comes up as a topic on MeFi, Matt will gift them an account directly.

I thought this was a great read. It reminded me a lot of the Porn Clerk diaries that were all the rage back in the whenever. Mid-late 90s?

Not in the actual content, obviously, but just in the "this is a job, and like every other job, it has it's pluses and minuses" perspective on things, and also the fact that it's something I never would have thought to be interested in if the stories weren't being told by someone with a talent for telling them.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:55 AM on September 2, 2012


Hey there, this is AssassinPrincess, aka that broad who wrote the OP thread about princessing. I bit the bullet and spent the five bux to get an account on here finally :) Might as well!

Thanks for all your comments, I'm really glad people enjoyed my thread! This is my first time posting a thread on SA, though I've been a reader on there for a while, and I really didn't want to screw it up. But I'm surprised this many people actually care about what I do for a living!

To answer some thingys:

Zinful: Our company would be so glad to do a boy's princess party, but we've just never had any call for one. When I said I don't do boys' parties because I'm not a boy, it's just the sad fact of reality. Boys' parties book superheroes and pirates. And though girls can love pirates as much as boys, boys loving princesses just as much is not yet enough of a mainstream idea for us to get any call for it.

Not sure why...in the 80's I used to play My Little Ponies and Barbies with two brothers who lived on the same military base as me (they owned the toys). Fast forward, at least one of those brothers is all grown up with a family, children, and a military career. (I assume the other is doing well too, I'm just not as close with him so I didn't ask). So it's not like doing "girl stuff" is going to sissify our menfolk or whatever, I think people should just chill and let kids be kids.

Lollusc: AWESOME PENGUIN. Penguin gets free bus rides, love it!

Sweetkid: I meant that what was sad about some of the upper-class parties is that the parents weren't even present for the blowing out of the candles or singing happy birthday, which I would think is important to a small child. I'm not saying you have to be there for EVERYTHING (god knows that woulds be exhausting, and many parents just want a break sometimes). I guess I'm just so used to seeing all the other families get so into it and participate more or less regularly, that it strikes me as weird when some parents absent themselves for the entire party, including the all-important cake part. You'd think they'd want to check in for that part, at least!

I don't think anyone on this thread worrying about "the princess phase" needs to worry much. Everyone I know was into princesses as a kid, and we still turned out fine. I was BIG into princesses, and the color pink, and tea parties and sparkles and Barbies, etc. Today I have a pretty great bit of publishing success behind me (and hopefully ahead as I wait to hear back from another company), I own and use more power tools than all my guy friends put together, I can perform basic maintenance on my own car and my dream is to have my own woodworking shop in the basement someday. But I still love girly princess stuff too! So does my best friend, who is also a bio-geneticist. We love Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and princess stickers like crazy, but we're not bubbleheaded prince-obsessed stereotypes. I don't think. I'll have to check.

By the way, someone from NPR in DC contacted me about doing an interview, so maybe I'll be showing up on an NPR show to go blah blah about princessing! Between that and doing a Kickstarter for an illustrated book based on my paid princessing shenanigans, it's been a very exciting week. My boss will be excited. You know, once I tell her about this thread. :)
posted by AssassinPrincess at 3:03 PM on September 2, 2012 [84 favorites]


Welcome! You seem like a real mensch, and I strongly suspect that you deserve every bit of success that comes your way.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:07 PM on September 2, 2012


thanks...I'm trying hard to get some successes lined up! Money is extremely tight and there's not much work I can do with a busted up spine after the dumb accident, so after everyone on SA encouraged me to do a kickstarter for an illustrated book about princessing, I figured what the hell. :) if it works out, I get money to eat and continue writing about princess stuff. if it doesn't, I haven't lost much and I still had fun doing it! :3
posted by AssassinPrincess at 3:11 PM on September 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You rock! Also if you ever do a Professional Proncess comic I think we are all up for buying it.
posted by Artw at 3:16 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Princess, even.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on September 2, 2012


I'm really glad you posted the thread. I just wish I knew someone with a child of the right age to have a costume made. I'd get the comics.

Do you actually often have multiple princess parties? (Other than for joint birthdays, I guess.) Do they just decorate in generic sparkly, or are the cups one princess and the plates another, or how does it work? Does the birthday girl have two costumes and switch?

And are there ever pet issues? Dogs getting under the hoop, cats climbing a skirt, boys trying to scare you with their pet snakes? (The latter happened to me a fair bit when I tutored, though as I like snakes it wasn't much of an issue. It was weird, though.)
posted by jeather at 3:58 PM on September 2, 2012


Well when I say multiple parties, I mean we have multiple parties in one day, but at different children's houses. So we go to one house as a princess, change in between parties, then attend another person's party at their house as a different princess. :) We don't host the parties anywhere ourselves.

Dogs are sometimes underfoot, but parents are usually very good about keeping them upstairs or otherwise out of the way. I don't see much in the way of pets on the average job, really, unless the kids go out of their way to show them to me. One time I was formally introduced to a child's goldfish, with much ceremony and pleasantries. Mr. Goldy and I remain in christmas-card contact.
posted by AssassinPrincess at 11:37 PM on September 2, 2012 [17 favorites]


BTW just did another big post in the original thread, and it contains my now-favorite picture yet (well, tied with the scary princess stare picture), the little princess layers picture :3

Since a ton of people have asked for it, I will put up some prints of the Scary Window Stare picture for sale in my Etsy...my dad has a cool poster printer and I can go buy some new ink for it and print some up this weekend. :D I will post a link to the shop in the main thread when it's ready! :)
posted by AssassinPrincess at 1:05 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ooohhh, other people loved Scary Window Stare as well? That was my favourite. The drawings complement your stories very well style-wise, btw. I'll keep an eye out for your book!
posted by Harald74 at 1:23 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


We need an AssassinPrincess Tumblr, I, for one would surely subscribe to your illustrations.
posted by infini at 5:48 AM on September 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


No, I meant: parties with multiple princesses. Which seem to exist, as you had a second princess for that party when you got hit by a car instead. How does that work?
posted by jeather at 5:56 AM on September 3, 2012


Have you a link to the Kickstarter? I'd happily contibute. The thread cheered up a very very stressful afternoon.
posted by mippy at 6:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: " I don't understand what's so profoundly sad or terrible about this."

AssassinPrincess: " Sweetkid: I meant that what was sad about some of the upper-class parties is that the parents weren't even present for the blowing out of the candles or singing happy birthday, which I would think is important to a small child. I'm not saying you have to be there for EVERYTHING (god knows that woulds be exhausting, and many parents just want a break sometimes). I guess I'm just so used to seeing all the other families get so into it and participate more or less regularly, that it strikes me as weird when some parents absent themselves for the entire party, including the all-important cake part. You'd think they'd want to check in for that part, at least!"

Kids really do notice these things, too. Especially at age 3 or 4 or 5, because they're usually still quite attached / emotionally tied to their parents' approval or disapproval. Having a princess come to their own house is a Special Event -- and I would think if a parent shows they don't care by not being present during their birthday party, especially for cake cutting or singing Happy Birthday, which are a HUGE deal to a child that age, they'd be sending a pretty clear (and depressing) message.
posted by zarq at 8:16 AM on September 4, 2012



Sweetkid: I meant that what was sad about some of the upper-class parties is that the parents weren't even present for the blowing out of the candles or singing happy birthday, which I would think is important to a small child. I'm not saying you have to be there for EVERYTHING (god knows that woulds be exhausting, and many parents just want a break sometimes). I guess I'm just so used to seeing all the other families get so into it and participate more or less regularly, that it strikes me as weird when some parents absent themselves for the entire party, including the all-important cake part. You'd think they'd want to check in for that part, at least!

Yeah, that definitely seems weird that they wouldn't want to be there for the cake part, esp when the kids are so little. I just remember when I was a kid I was much more interested in friends being at my parties than how into it my parents were, even though they were very engaged parents.
posted by sweetkid at 8:44 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing that strikes me is that the lower income the parents have, the more well-behaved their children are. This isn't bias, it's fact.

My entire career in public, private, and nonprofit education agrees with this observation. Over time I've learned that many things we tend to think of as simple "civility" or "consideration for others" or "cleanliness" or "responsibility" are profoundly middle-class and working-class values and habits. They are simply not necessary at high income levels, when the underlying expectations for everything from basic support services and life maintenance to personal relationships are quite differently shaped, and indeed showing these middle-class 'tells' can be the marker of a striver or sycophant, or at least not someone of the financial elite class, so sometimes they're actually actively derided.
posted by Miko at 8:44 AM on September 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


In my limited experience, there's a curve back toward civility at the old money end of the wealth curve. New money people feel they must prove that their money makes them better than everyone else by treating other people badly. Old money people either realize their money doesn't make them better than everyone else and treat people accordingly, or think their money does make them better than everyone else and they strive to demonstrate that in other ways, too. I'm not sure which it is, but there does seem to be a renewed niceness among those who are accustomed to being wealthy vs. those with first or second generation wealth.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:53 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


it strikes me as weird when some parents absent themselves for the entire party, including the all-important cake part. You'd think they'd want to check in for that part, at least!

As a parent I'd consider not checking in for the cake part borderline sociopathic.
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


In my limited experience, there's a curve back toward civility at the old money end of the wealth curve.

Most of the truly civil ones never lost their civility, I don't think. They've had a difficult time asserting themselves in an environment of runaway affluenza, though. And I should be clear I'm not talking about the overtly contemptuous "treating other people badly" type of behavior. I'm talking about the simple indifference and deafness to the set of values that middle- and working-class people require to get by. That indifference can be found among the wealthy regardless of when they rose to wealth, but in fact I think being born into it makes one much more blind to the daily realities of the non-rich. There are many, many things middle-class and working-class people have to do to get by that are simply, flat-out unnecessary for the very rich. Our "politeness" can be seen as currying favor to get by and maintain a social standing. "Cleanliness" is not necessary when you never ever have to clean your own home - as I was shocked to discover when housesitting and doing family care for wealthy families, there's nothing wrong or punishable in leaving drinks and food plates around the house, making rings on the furniture, drawing flies. Or even in letting a wayward dog poop on the floor and not cleaning it up - just waiting until the next pass by the housekeeper. Caring for objects is not particularly necessary when everything is replaceable and not that closely attached to you, because not hard-won, in the first place; treating the house like a hotel room is pretty common. It's that sort of thing I mean. Until I had to hang around a lot of rich people, I never understood how many of the values I was raised with aren't comprehensive "American values," but are truly only "middle-class values."
posted by Miko at 9:04 AM on September 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


As a parent I'd consider not checking in for the cake part borderline sociopathic.

I think a lot of wealthy kids these days have multiple parties -- a family party, a school friends party, a neighborhood friends party, possibly one for sports teams, etc. It's weird that they wouldn't want to be there for the big moments, but at the same time, they might have already watched their little princess blow out the candles on three cakes that week.

The whole question of why they are having multiple parties is a kettle of fish unto itself, but I don't know that I'd assume that not wanting to sit through the cake cutting one more time is necessarily a sign of grave emotional neglect.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:06 AM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


it strikes me as weird when some parents absent themselves for the entire party, including the all-important cake part. You'd think they'd want to check in for that part, at least!

As a parent I'd consider not checking in for the cake part borderline sociopathic.


Ok I'm back to not understanding why this is such a big deal.
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because its a big moment for your kid. The cake and the singing happy birthday and all of that - you should be there for that, even if it means putting down your cocktail momentarily.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, you are not SIX until you blow out the six candles on your birthday cake. Everything else is window dressing; the candles are the magical moment.

Not being there for that is a major parenting fail.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ritual is important to human beings. Hard-wired right in to our monkey-meat - social rituals show that you are a member of the monkey-troop/family/community/society.

In our culture, one of the most important rituals affirming the value of an individual is the celebration of their birthday, and the most important rite in this celebration is blowing out the candles on a cake.

If you're not interested in your kid blowing out their candles, it shows you're not interested in them as members of your family or community. It's hurtful and cruel to send that message to a little kid, who still relies on their parents for their sense of self-worth and security.

Put down the damn martini, sing the song, and cheer when the candles go out, for crying out loud.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:54 AM on September 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


Right but extrapolating from one or two moments at a birthday party that the parents are sociopathic or don't care about their children or that the whole scene is so sad seems unfair to me. As was said above, maybe there were other parties where the kid blew out the candles, maybe they had a small family thing that morning that was the "real" party, etc.
posted by sweetkid at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've done multiple party's for schoolfreinds, intimate family, etc... Doesn't matter: if the cake is there and candle blowing and the song is happening you are in the building you are required to pay attention.
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on September 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Let's agree to disagree - -it just seems extreme to me.
posted by sweetkid at 10:16 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just for clarity's sake, sweetkid - are you saying it's extreme to say a parent is unfeeling if they skip the cake bit, or are you saying it's extreme to say it's borderline psychotic specifically?

Because I agree it's unfeeling, but "borderline psychotic" is somewhat further than I'd go. ("Selfish fuckstick", however, is a term I'd cheerfully use.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saying someone is borderline psychotic is definitely extreme, but I also don't think you can glean what kind of parent someone is by how they act at their kid's party. I just don't think that's fair at all.
posted by sweetkid at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right but extrapolating from one or two moments at a birthday party that the parents are sociopathic or don't care about their children or that the whole scene is so sad seems unfair to me. As was said above, maybe there were other parties where the kid blew out the candles, maybe they had a small family thing that morning that was the "real" party, etc.

By checking out of this, as a parent, just not being present for the candles moment, what values around birthday celebrations, consideration for others, paying attention to individuals at special moments, etc., would you be affirming and demonstrating not only for your kid, but for the other kids and parents in the group?

I can understand your not feeling it's important if it's your third cake of the week. But there are still ways in which your behavior is quite important to showing visible support for the entire enterprise, and setting the behavioral/cultural standard for everyone else who's present. Kids learn what they live, after all.
posted by Miko at 11:14 AM on September 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just to be clear, I don't have kids myself yet so my opinion isn't a reflection on my personal behavior and no actual kids are being affected by anything I've posted so far. I just think it's overcritical to call parents sociopaths or even saying they don't really love their kid because they're doing something else when their kid is blowing out a candle.
posted by sweetkid at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2012


That may change if you have kids. Here's hoping.
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on September 4, 2012


I agree that "sociopaths" is too strong for serious use here, an exaggeration in an attempt to be humorous, but yes if parents were not showing any interest during the birthday song and candle ritual, I would indeed see that a a potential indicator of dysfunction. I don't why I should feel differently about that because the kids might be rich and have many birthday celebrations than I would if the kids were in neglectful homes and had no recognition of their birthdays, or if one parent made a big deal out of it while the other blew it off.

Especially since this blogger has perceived it as a cultural pattern; anthropologically, something's going on there.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't why I should feel differently about that because the kids might be rich and have many birthday celebrations than I would if the kids were in neglectful homes and had no recognition of their birthdays, or if one parent made a big deal out of it while the other blew it off.

I didn't ask anyone to feel differently, I just don't think it's a fair assumption and it seems extreme to me. That's all.
posted by sweetkid at 11:34 AM on September 4, 2012


Well, I think it's a very reasonable and fair assumption that something is amiss, especially if the phenomenon is as consistently observed as we're being told. I haven't been convinced to revise that view, so I guess that's where we are. I agree with ArtW that hopefully your view on this point will change if you ever do have kids who are very important in your life.
posted by Miko at 11:38 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just think it's overcritical to call parents sociopaths or even saying they don't really love their kid because they're doing something else when their kid is blowing out a candle.

Think of it as a symptom, not the disease. There have been parents of a few children I've known (both as a child and as an adult) that didn't place a lot of value on the song and candles, and every single one exhibited a poor approach in general to child-rearing. I'm not saying it's 100%, but at least in my experience it's been a pretty surefire indicator.

Kids place a lot of value on things that parents may not think of as important, so acknowledging that value in small ways can be good for the child. I remember blowing candles out as being one of the biggest things about my childhood birthdays, often equal to or just behind what my parents got me. Of course, I lived a middle-class lifestyle (and at the low end of that in my early years), so the gifts were fairly modest and the ritual itself was important. Whenever I start raising kids, I plan to embarrass the hell out of them with my horrible singing voice and disturbingly enthusiastic cheering at candles being blown out for every birthday I'm present for (which is hopefully all of them).
posted by zombieflanders at 11:45 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most of the truly civil ones never lost their civility, I don't think. They've had a difficult time asserting themselves in an environment of runaway affluenza, though. And I should be clear I'm not talking about the overtly contemptuous "treating other people badly" type of behavior.

There's also a difference in the motivation for correct behaviour. The working and middle classes teach their children to be polite towards service staff with the exhortation to "treat people the way you'd want to be treated" and with reference to the feelings of others. A blend of the golden rule and maybe some kind of egalitarian sense of solidarity.

The upper class is taught to be polite because it's the way "we are supposed to behave". On one notable occasion I was lectured on my rudeness and told that I might "someday have to command these men [a landscaping crew] in battle" and that I should be mindful not to damage my "command presence" - a pretty hefty thing to lay on a 13 year old.

"Cleanliness" is not necessary when you never ever have to clean your own home - as I was shocked to discover when housesitting and doing family care for wealthy families, there's nothing wrong or punishable in leaving drinks and food plates around the house, making rings on the furniture, drawing flies.

I grew up in a household where we always had servants of some sort or another and this is quite true, I never learned to put things away because someone else always did it.

The only reason that I'm not a ridiculous sloven is that my father never trusted any of the staff to clean his boat properly so we did that ourselves. I've sanded down and anti-fouled hulls, stripped down and re-oiled winches, and swabbed decks galore and that's where I learned the habit of keeping things tidy and clean. I did find myself at the age of 18 having to use google to find out how to use a washing machine to wash clothes after discovering that top-loader and side-loader machines use different powders.
posted by atrazine at 11:46 AM on September 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Meta
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with ArtW that hopefully your view on this point will change if you ever do have kids who are very important in your life.

If I have kids, they'll definitely be important and I will definitely want to be there for blowing out candles. However, I still don't think I would consider fellow parents who didn't do that to be sociopaths or uncaring people. What I would personally want to do vs what someone else does are two totally different things.
posted by sweetkid at 12:10 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


sweetkid: "However, I still don't think I would consider fellow parents who didn't do that to be sociopaths or uncaring people. "

For whatever it's worth, I agree with you. I also wouldn't say that they were sociopaths or make a sweeping generalization that they were uncaring people if that was the only behavior I'd observed. I'd consider those descriptions extreme too.

But depending on the age of the kid, I would be likely to say it wasn't an example of great parenting. It's important to be present for some things.
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


sweetkid:
I think that the description of the parents based on the person who was there and had the emotionally desperate kid(s) wrapped around their neck tells me that at least some of these parents are not as engaged as would be considered healthy for the sake of base attachment needs. I don't think it's out of line to express discomfort and regret for those cases.

AssassinPrincess:
I have to say that your write-up has made me a lot less worried about the likely-inevitable interest in princesses, and far more into the idea of one day saving up for a character to drop by when wee-batmonkey is old enough to appreciate it.

Also, you're doing an awesome job of spinning success out of life experience, extending your network, and utilising available resources - after you get this latest burst of inspiration and fulfillment on the track, you might also consider adding public speaking and/or motivational guides to your repertoire!
posted by batmonkey at 12:59 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is outstanding; thanks for posting it and AssassinPrincess, thanks for showing up here! Your stories are great and strike a perfect balance between the funny side of the job and taking seriously the experience of the kids.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:41 PM on September 4, 2012


I know this candle thing is a derail, but another point that (I think)'s worth making is that for young kids, blowing out candles is a) not that easy to do and b) really cool because FIRE (seriously - how many interactions with fire do kids get?). Kids will scream "Watch me!" with total urgency before simply jumping into a pool or twirling so their skirt balloons or climbs a fire hydrant and it doesn't matter that there's nothing about it inherently worth watching - they'll do it twenty times in a row just because look at this cool thing I can do myself.

Add to that the birthday wish candle which can be pretty fraught with importance for some kids (Santa's lap with a skill component) and I think seeing it as 'just watching the kid blow out candles' is missing how the child sees it. So while I wouldn't go so far as using the term 'sociopathic,' I do think that it's showing a lack of awareness of what matters to the child -- and that is often a sign of pretty poor parenting.

AssassinPrincess - loved your writeup and especially your drawings! So much awesome, it made me suddenly want a new career - and sad that I'm too over the hill to be considered.
posted by Mchelly at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, I still don't think I would consider fellow parents who didn't do that to be sociopaths or uncaring people.
sweetkid

I think the problem is you're viewing it as an isolated incident whereas the rest of us see it as part of a pattern. It's an important thing to a kid, and if you can't be bothered to put down your martini and come inside for a few minutes to do the cake ritual, it makes one wonder what else you're not doing.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:02 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That may change if you have kids. Here's hoping.

That is uncharitable.
posted by smoke at 4:10 PM on September 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I grew up as a poor kid with a LOT of family togetherness (big family, small house, tons of extended family), and I have to admit, when I watched a film version of A Doll's House in the seventh grade, I was vaguely creeped out seeing kids interacting with their nanny more than their parents. It's kind of funny now in light of the themes of that particular play, but the feeling didn't extend to kids I knew who went to day care (including myself) or latch key, just kids who grew up with someone doing all those little coordinating things for them all the time, in their own home. Yeah, it's judgey, but I just can't imagine my parents not being there to light the candles on my cake or pick out new clothes with me or whatever I cared about at that age. It feels weird and Victorian to me-- or else weird and maybe like not "real" parenting. Those kids are used to it though. I wouldn't actually condemn anyone for hiring a nanny, but it is really hard to get over the way you yourself were raised.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:48 PM on September 4, 2012


So I just read through the whole thread. Really interesting stuff—and I love your illustrations, AssassinPrincess! I would definitely buy a graphic novel of this...
posted by limeonaire at 6:55 PM on September 4, 2012



Welcome! You seem like a real mensch, and I strongly suspect that you deserve every bit of success that comes your way.

Heh. I know it's gender-neutral, but the usual usage of "mensch" I hear is almost exclusively masculine.


But then, "You're a real wensch!" doesn't sound like a much of a compliment.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:23 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


NEWSFLASH: People have a hard time accepting upbringings unlike their own.

We should be more charitable and less dickish.

(Oh, and for what it's worth, my parents weren't rich, were AWESOME, and birthdays were never a big deal in my family at all. I didn't even make wishes when I blew out candles and never gave a shit about that "ritual")
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:56 PM on September 4, 2012


How would one go about getting into this line of work?

I sometimes help a farmer friend of mine out selling flowers at our local greenmarket. Because it's only a sometimes thing, when I do it I usually show up in the cutest clothes I can muster, and heck, it's flowers, and everybody loves flowers, so I always try to be in an especially cheery mood.

I get lots of little girls at my flower kiosk. I always make eye contact, ask them their names, answer all their questions, and let them touch, smell, and even taste stuff. If their parents give them money to buy flowers (or ask their opinion about what flowers to get), I always talk to them as if they're in charge, consulting them on color choice and which blooms will look the nicest.

I collect fallen blossoms and broken stems to give to the littlest ones, the ones who are so tiny they're not even at eye level with the flowers.

I am every little Brooklyn girl's greenmarket heroine. I would make a pretty fucking awesome princess.

That said, if this is, like, a trademarked Disney-franchised thing I am probably too old for their standards.

(re the candle thing? I have some pretty sucky memories of my parents not caring about my birthday or respecting important childhood birthday rituals, and it's always been one of the bigger symbols of their overall parenting style. Which is about the most diplomatic way I can phrase it in a public forum.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:08 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reading through the whole SomethingAwful thread, I just realized. I can't be a Princess For Hire because I have visible tattoos. Oh, well. Probably better to stick to life as a part time crunchy-granola flower princess.
posted by Sara C. at 9:33 PM on September 4, 2012


My two-year-old son's favorite princess is Tiana, followed by Cinderella. He throws tantrums if his brother takes his little figurines. But, I don't think he would care about a real-life princess. They're just toys to him, not a lifestyle. Thomas the Tank Engine, on the other hand, is a lifestyle. We've come across two train-sized Thomas installations in parks and the reaction was similar to the ecstasy described by AssassinPrincess.
posted by michaelh at 10:39 PM on September 4, 2012


Hi Assassin Princess and welcome to Metafilter! You're very pretty and I love your costumes! I hope I can cosplay someday. :) Loved the SA thread!
posted by IndigoRain at 10:41 PM on September 4, 2012


Sara C.: it's not in any way associated with Disney. You just need to look youngish (16-25) or have a generally more or less youthful look about you. I would google local party princess companies in your area and simply email them with a headshot or two, asking if they're looking to hire. That's what I did! :)

Thanks to everyone who commented, you guys are so awesome! I shoulda joined Metafilter a long time ago, everyone is so nice.

I just added a new update to the thread, if you guys want to check it out. Also I put the Princess Death Stare up as a poster for sale in my Etsy, since some people asked if they could buy it as one:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/108654057/the-party-princess-stare-poster

Me and my dad print posters of my art to sell, on his big awesome poster printer that does an amazing job of getting really high-quality color on thick photo paper. IT'S KILLER.
posted by AssassinPrincess at 12:04 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I shoulda joined Metafilter a long time ago, everyone is so nice

Right everyone.... the $5 is in the bag, back to regular programming!
posted by infini at 4:19 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


jacquilynne: " I'm not sure which it is, but there does seem to be a renewed niceness among those who are accustomed to being wealthy vs. those with first or second generation wealth."

Not sure how it works in America, but in India there is a strong affectation of British nobility (or at least the public face thereof) among Old Money families. On top of that, if the nouveau-types have more money than you, you can only reestablish your place on the pecking order by looking down on them as boorish.

An expression I've heard bandied about is "money talks, wealth whispers."
posted by vanar sena at 4:49 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not sure how it works in America, but in India... if the nouveau-types have more money than you, you can only reestablish your place on the pecking order by looking down on them as boorish.

I think that's exactly how it works in America.
posted by Miko at 6:34 AM on September 5, 2012


The latest update has taters!
posted by mbrubeck at 10:04 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: Even More Wardrobe Malfunctions in the latest update.

I am in literal tears over here.
posted by figurant at 3:22 PM on September 5, 2012


And she mentions that she's been approached twice now to have this turned into a movie.
posted by Houstonian at 6:27 PM on September 5, 2012


I'd hold out for a TV series, myself. I mean, just imagine if Party Down had had princesses. Starz! Never would have cancelled that shit.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:09 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


she's been approached twice now to have this turned into a movie.

I hope this means she's been approached to have an upcoming graphic novel that she would write eventually turned into a movie.

Because if not, she's probably going to get screwed over pretty badly. If I were a creative person with an interesting side job (which I actually sort of am), I would want to retain the rights to make work related to said side job myself rather than sign them over to some jerk.

PrincessAssassin, if you're even remotely interested in the movie thing, you should probably get a lawyer, stat.
posted by Sara C. at 8:38 PM on September 5, 2012


Sara C.: No worries, I have no intention of talking to anyone about anything without an agent RIGHT THERE the entire time. :3 I've got six years of negotiating my own stuff in the publishing world and arguing contracts, so I won't just jump into stuff! :D

That said, I'm not expecting all this interest to pan out into anything important, I just think it's a crazy fun ride at this point. And I'm really glad people like my thread. I'm in a really stupid amount of pain since the accident, and I look forward every morning to drawing the pictures for it and remembering silly anecdotes as a great distraction. It's really giving me a reason to have a smile on my face when I sit down at my desk! :D So thanks for reading, guys!!
posted by AssassinPrincess at 9:28 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great writing, AssassinPrincess.

They don't have the attention span to commit to a princess because they're constantly flooded with new toys and distractions by their parents and they don't see a Rapunzel visit as anything other than a new kind of toy, to be quickly tired of and left alone. They're not bad children or brats...they're very nice kids. But they're so over-saturated by their parents that nothing really has special meaning to them anymore, at least not for long.

This is a near-perfect description of a young relative of mine, who doesn't really value anything, because he has so many things. I don't think he needs the deluge of new experiences and objects he gets all the time, they're really for the benefit of his parents, but his expectation of daily novelty is taking its toll now he's started school.

He has also been taken, at no small expense, to Disneyland, Legoland, Thomas Land and numerous other theme parks. A few months ago he announced that he'd had 'the best day of my life'. He'd spent it, mostly in the rain, on the small farm where another relative works. Disneyland isn't the happiest place on earth for that kid; magic is watching animals in the mud.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:13 AM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Disneyland isn't the happiest place on earth for that kid; magic is watching animals in the mud.

I've decided to learn the wrong lesson from that anecdote. I'm going to start a business that brings mud and farm animals to children's parties.

p.s. That's a great thread Assassin Princess. You write well.
posted by Area Man at 2:34 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, MartinWisse ... this one of those fun "here's my story" threads that I love reading, up there with Slangin' Liquor in the Hood (sadly deceased) and TIME FOR SOME STORIES (which I am glad I can still find.)

Nthing that you write well, AssassinPrincess; I'm only a fifth of the way through the original thread, and I'm looking forward to reading much more over the next few days. (I wish to see it comic-book-ized, too.) I'm glad your story got out there on the innarnet! Good luck!
posted by not_on_display at 7:34 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So chuffed to see this pop up on Metatalk! Off the back of seeing the SA thread, I actually messaged on Etsy to ask about the possibility of the Deathglare Princess print. Now that I know it's available, i'm off to buy one with a quickness.

I've loved all your posts on SA, AssassinPrincess! I was in bed with a death-lurgy last week and I spent an entire evening reading the whole thing and being immensely cheered up by it. Cheers for pulling me out of flu-induced doldrums!
posted by pseudonymph at 3:40 AM on September 12, 2012


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