"It is love that marks a true daughter of the King."
- Angela Elwell Hunt -
When I was a girl, princesses and royalty were neither here nor there. I was much more interested in street hockey and lightsaber battles with my brothers than in Cinderella, Jasmine, or Pocahontas. I grew up in a conservative home where most Disney movies were off-limits (I watched them for the first time as a teenager when I was babysitting!), and I had no aspirations to raise my children steeped in fairytale lore. But from the moment I held my own little princess in my arms, everything pink and sparkly and whimsical pulled me in. I suddenly wanted to dress my girl and decorate her room to reflect the royalty I instinctively felt in her. Little did I know that within the first few weeks of Elissa's life, she would encounter a shattering loss much like those that shape many of Walt Disney's famous princesses. When she was less than a month old, Elissa lost her daddy. Like my baby girl, the Disney princesses are no strangers to heartache. Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Mulan grow up without a mother. Aurora and Rapunzel spend their childhoods separated from their parents. Tiana's father dies, leaving her to carry out their dreams alone. Elsa and Anna's parents are lost at sea. And the list goes on. Nearly every princess has suffered a traumatic loss early in childhood that shapes them and makes them a heroine.
I took Elissa on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney World for her fourth birthday, and she was in princess heaven. She spent hours waiting in lines to meet the princesses and get pictures and autographs. In her four-year-old grasp of reality, she was meeting the actual princesses! She chose to forego rides, treats, and toys in favor of filling her autograph book. We were both enchanted! Watching her, spellbound and starry-eyed in the presence of royalty, my heart swelled with gratefulness that she has such wholesome role models to look up to. As she gets older and learns more of these princess's stories, she will identify with them in the pain of their losses. She will be inspired by Aurora's grace, Belle's beauty, Rapunzel's courage, Ariel's bravery, and Cinderella's kindness. She will see that, rather than pitying themselves and their circumstances, these young women chose to rise above the pain of loss and touch the world around them with extraordinary kindness and grace. And so I unashamedly dress my daughter in beautiful dresses, reenact princess stories with her for hours, and read the same beloved tales until we can both recite every word. I want her to know without a doubt that she IS a princess, a daughter of the one true King, and be inspired to live out her own compelling drama on earth with the life she's been given.