The problem with princesses

Natalie put on her leotard and admired her ballerina self in the mirror.  She twisted a little to watch the fancy sway of her sheer skirt.  She looked at the flower barette in her hair and grinned at herself.  I saw her grab her sleeves and tug on them.  First one side, then the other.  She was trying to make the neckline stretch out over her shoulders.  She would uncover one side and the other side would snap back into place, so she tried with both hands to make the neckline wider and more revealing.

“What are you doing?,” I asked.  She shrugged.

Then a lightbulb went off. “Are you trying to look like Belle?”

Natalie smiled and nodded, a little embarrassed that I had discovered her thoughts.

“Oh,” I said, understandingly, “Belle is very pretty, isn’t she?  But Belle’s dress is not very modest.  We know we shouldn’t show our bodies, right?”

She nodded yes, remembering and understanding, and pulled her cute little sleeves back into place.  After admiring herself for another few seconds, she pranced off to play.  I was surprised by how impressionable these little ones are, in ways I hadn’t quite expected.  Just a few days ago, I thought this was adorable:

Now I’m feeling a tiny bit cautious.

Ezra Taft Benson said to young women around the world:

“Remember who you really are and the divine heritage that is yours. You are literally the royal daughters of our Heavenly Father. . . . You have been born at this time for a sacred and glorious purpose. It is not by chance that you have been reserved to come to earth in this last dispensation of the fulness of times. Your birth at this particular time was foreordained in the eternities. You are to be royal daughters of the Lord in the last days. You are the youth of the noble birthright.”

Silva H. Allred gave these great reminders:

The Lord has commanded us to teach our children important truths, and teaching modesty and virtue is one of our most vital responsibilities.

Some of the important concepts we should highlight in our teaching include the following:

  • You are a child of God.
  • Your body is a temple. It is a gift from God.
  • Modesty in dress, thought, attitude, and behavior invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost and reflects your personal commitment to the gospel.
  • The way you dress and behave sends messages to others about your attitudes and how you feel about yourself.
  • You can be attractive without being immodest.

As parents, we need to speak frankly about these natural tendencies but also about the importance and value of self-discipline that Heavenly Father requires us to learn as we overcome the “natural man” (see Mosiah 3:19). In this case, that refers to dressing and acting in a modest manner.

I realize that the infraction is small, but it got me thinking.  I just wish that, even in the cartoon world, princesses understood that with royalty comes responsibility.