The Princess Problem by Rebecca Hains

The Princess Problem

The Princess Problem by Rebecca Hains

Little girls love everything about princesses: the beautiful dolls, the romantic love stories, the glittering play clothes. But girls’ princess obsessions bring more than pink sparkles into their lives: Pop culture princesses are part of an enormous and powerful marketing machine, encouraging obsessive consumerism and delivering negative stereotypes about gender, race, and beauty to young girls. What’s a concerned parent to do?

The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years by Rebecca Hains offers solutions, teaching parents a range of skills–from setting limits on media use to helping their daughters think critically about media stereotypes and consumerism. With their parents’ help, girls can arm themselves with the skills and resilience they’ll need to navigate popular culture and its many problems for years to come.

Advance Praise for The Princess Problem “Media and marketers bombard girls at ever-younger ages with ‘fun’ products that promote pernicious stereotypes. So what’s a parent to do? Enter Rebecca Hains, a wise, optimistic guide through the princess industrial complex. The Princess Problem is an indispensable tool kit, full of concrete, practical advice. I only wish it had been around when my daughter was in preschool!”

–Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter

“Ms. Hains has given us a very insightful look at our princess culture. And she doesn’t stop there. Her ideas and suggestions on how parents can help their children navigate the overwhelming princess marketing, media and negative stereotypes are refreshingly perceptive. She points out the problem and offers realistic solutions. Parents – this is a must read!”

-Brenda Chapman, Writer/Director, Disney/Pixar’s BRAVE

“With warmth, humor, and in-depth research, The Princess Problem thoughtfully explores the production of princess culture, its impact on children, and why we should all care about it.  As an expert in media literacy for children, Hains provides concrete and effective (and often fun) strategies and activities to help parents raise girls and boys who are confident, critical, and compassionate.”

-Chyng Sun, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Media Studies, McGhee Division, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, New York University, and the producer of documentary film Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood, and Corporate Power

“The Princess Problem offers sound, sensible and parent-tested advice for helping children thrive in today’s consumer culture. Hains… lays out a family-centered strategy for raising media-smart kids.”

-Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America

“Blending fact, analysis, and compelling research with expert interviews and eye-opening narratives from actual moms, Rebecca Hains paints a troubling picture of princess culture and media messaging. But like a true fairy godmother, she swoops in to mentor parents on how to rescue girls from the diabolical clutches of the self-serving marketing machine by offering real-world solutions and teachable techniques to counter its effects.”

-Jen Jones, Co-Founder & Managing Editor,

Table of Contents: The Princess Problem

Part One: The Pleasures and Problems of Princess Culture–and a Solution

Introduction (preview available via Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature)

Chapter One: The Problems with Princess Culture

Today’s parents are smart and thoughtful. They’ve become increasingly aware that princess culture segregates the girls from the boys, over-emphasizes physical appearance, and is full of gender and race stereotypes (with racial diversity far too limited to begin with). So what’s a concerned parent to do?

Chapter Two: Raising Media Literate Children

Parents who want their children to be able to think critically about media messages can practice pop culture coaching, a powerful new method for raising media literate children. Chapter Two offers a straightforward, step-by-step guide to pop culture coaching, filled with helpful examples.

Part Two: Guiding Our Girls: Pop Culture Coaching in Action

Chapter Three: The Problem with Princess Marketing

This chapter explores how princess movies and products are marketed, why it’s so irresistible to young girls, and why it’s a problem. Then, using pop culture coaching principles, Chapter Three gives parents tips and conversation starters for helping their children resist marketing.

Chapter Four: The Problem with the Pretty Princess Mandate

Princess culture echoes a problem found throughout the media: the implication that physical appearance is the most important quality of a female. But girls and women are so much more than how they look! This chapter discusses why we are so biased towards pretty people and how princess culture reinforces this unhealthy attitude. Then, Chapter Four teaches parents exactly how they can help their young daughters beat the pretty princess mandate.

Chapter Five: The Problem with Gender Stereotypes

Parents report they are concerned by the ways they see princess culture encouraging girls to be passive and subservient and to believe in the “romance” of superficial, unhealthy relationships. Brave and Frozen have offered big improvements in these areas—but does the merchandise? Then, Chapter Five teaches parents how to help their girls see through the gender stereotypes.

Chapter Five also features an exclusive interview with Brenda Chapman, director of Disney/Pixar’s Brave.

Chapter Six: The Problems of Race Representation and Racism

Princess products and films feature characters of color far too infrequently. They are underrepresented. Unfortunately, those that do exist have some limitations, including some racist undertones. Today’s parents want their daughters to overcome stereotypes and respect all races and ethnicities—both others and their own. Chapter Six gives parents concrete tips and examples on how to do just that.


Talking about Princess Films: Discussion Ideas for Parents

For Further Reading



Works Cited

20 Comments on “The Princess Problem

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  4. I really liked this story, very cool “The Princess Problem offers sound, sensible and parent-tested advice for helping children thrive in today’s consumer culture. Hains… lays out a family-centered strategy for raising media-smart kids”

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