Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Princes and Princesses of the 21st Century

Three of my grandchildren are in town for an extended visit. The five-year-old is as girlie-girl as they come. Her favorite color is pink. Her clothes and accessories must have pink in them. Her favorite bagel is strawberry because it is pink, and her favorite ice cream (pink) cotton candy.

Disney has done an incredible job marketing princesses and everything that goes along with them to young girls. Other companies joined the bandwagon, and toy stores, clothing stores and any other item aimed at girls play on the theme. My two-year-old granddaughter is quickly becoming a marketer’s dream. One of her favorite foods is fruit in pouches. The pouches are decorated with princesses. She asks for her princess fruit. (FYI – The ‘boy’ pouches have pictures of the cars from the Disney movie Cars.)

A lot of this is new to me. I raised two boys, so pink things and princesses were never part of our household.

The two related ideas of a child’s na├»ve notion of princesses fostered by the marketers of America, and real princes and princesses of the 21st century came together as I was reading an article in The Wall Street Journal about multimillion dollar mega-mansions in Florida.

The article highlighted one particular $45 million estate recently sold. Apparently the Florida high-end real estate market is recovering and more multimillion-dollar properties will sell in the not-too-distant future.

The article underscores the fact that, after all the financial chaos and economic problems affecting the majority of people over the past decade, most of the rich are still rich. The 1% of the world does not worry about making ends meet, paying bills, or budgeting.

Corporate executives continue to make millions.

Too-big-to-fail institutions remain too big to fail.

Financial scandals still make headlines.

Meanwhile the rest of us attempt to figure out the best way to maneuver through rocky economic times.

We struggle to reduce our debt, avoid poor judgment and financial mistakes.

We hope our jobs are secure.

We worry about reckless political divisions creating gridlock in Washington rather than economic solutions.

Meanwhile we take a few minutes out of our hectic daily lives to peek into the life of the princes and princesses of the 21st century.

We skim stories about their fairy tale lives in glossy magazines, watch them stroll red carpets on TV, and read about their huge mega-mansions. A lot of them are celebrities – actors and actresses, singers, entertainers and talk show hosts, professional sports players and entrepreneurs (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.). Many lesser known but not any less wealthy are financial superstars, such as hedge fund managers and corporate CEOs.

Then there are the descendants of past-accumulated wealth. Many remain wealthy thanks to trust funds and other means (query Mitt Romney for details).   Names of some of the wealthiest American families familiar to many include: the Walton family (of Wal-Mart fame – not the TV show family), the Koch brothers (major donors of right-wing causes), the Mars family (love those M&M’s!), the du Pont clan, Hearst family (how many of us remember Patty Hearst?), Mellon, Rockefeller, and Lauder (of cosmetic fame and fortune) dynasties.

Globally many of the superrich are political leaders, entrepreneurs, and criminals.

And last but not least are the ‘real’ traditional princes and princesses – the English royal family and royalty of other countries. America never established a generational royal family (we won’t give up – watch the Bush family over the next couple of generations).

But it is time to leave Fantasyland and the Magic Kingdom, and re-enter our own, personal real world. Until the next time a mega-mansion, high-end resort or obscenely expensive wedding makes headlines…


  1. My grand daughter never got into that princess in pink stage, I see lots of it around though.

    Some of the mansions on beach front property in Florida are unbelievable. I wonder who needs that kind of space. I like to see a row of huge mansions and then come across a small, single story cottage that has been on the beach for years and years. It just amuses me somehow.

  2. It's hard to protect the children from the marketing...especially at back-to-school marketing time! Dislike.
    Bet your princesses are divine, though ;)

  3. My never married daughter was/is a tomboy (she had a T-shirt that read: As you climb the ladder of success, don't let the boys look up your dress) and I only have two grandsons so I missed the princess stuff.

    And no, she's not gay.

  4. So true, especially the part about Disney conditioning all young girls to want to be princesses. I see this happen over and over and over, to the point where I met a young girl dressed in pink and I say, "Let me guess, you want to be a princess, don't you?," to which they vigorously nod their heads in agreement. Not sure if that's healthy; maybe it's fine, maybe it's not.

  5. I raised boys too, but my twin granddaughters went through several years of being princesses. We'd go to JCPenney to pick out summer clothes, and they become besotted by gauzy tutus. I'd take out the educational toys and they'd want the Polly Pocket box, with Polly and her 700 tiny pieces.

    They're 12 now. Fortunately, they're no longer princesses now that they have Facebook pages of their own.

    That's not my doing.

  6. I have two princess granddaughters. They almost always wear dresses that are usually pink, but they also like science, and bugs, and play in the dirt...getting their fancy silver glitter shoes all dirty!

  7. So far (myself included) my daughter and grand daughter were never the 'princess' type. We were/are all into nature and science. However... my daughter-in-law is due in a few months to have a baby girl. D-I-L is also nature oriented... but we are teasing her about possibly having a 'girly' girl... this little one's mom and dad may be Ranger Ricks, but she's getting an all pink princess shower! And whatever type they may be... little girls are fun!