Creating A Gender-Neutral Fairy Tale For My Family

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Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling
The Swedish royal family is having a fairy tale wedding. Why does this make me nervous?

On June 19, Swedish Crown Princess Victoria will marry Daniel Westling, a commoner and personal trainer turned, literally, into a prince. This is the event of the higher-end European social calendar, and Stockholm will be flooded by thousands and thousands of people. You can already buy Victoria and Daniel cards, chocolates and keychains at just about every corner store.

This marriage is a fairy tale that everyone I know—my very egalitarian wife included—has embraced. So why am I so turned off? I think it's because I have a little girl now, and I want her to be Pippi Longstocking, not Crown Princess Victoria. Are Women Still Looking For Prince Charming?

 

I know my wife wants a Pippi instead of a princess, too. After all, she is the one who opened my eyes to the flood of princessy Pink that fills places like Babies 'R Us and said, "No." So my girl does not dress like a princess. She does not fantasize about princesses, even if—when she showed up at daycare with a princess purse that slipped through my net—some older girls swooned with envy. But now I'm supposed to accept all this froth over a princess?

My wife stays quiet when I get worked up over this. Sometimes, she seems offended. Swedes love their royal family, and Victoria is not a cartoon but a real woman who women like my wife seem to identify with. And I've finally come to terms with this royal rift, thanks to—of all people—Dora the Explorer.

There is an episode where Dora must complete an epic quest to become a "true princess" with magic powers. I can deal with that, the pink satin dress coming after the dragon, the giant and the witch. When my 3-year-old daughter plays princess, she waves a magic wand and goes diving into dark closets in search of monsters.

Maybe Victoria is that kind of princess, and maybe my wife is, too. After all, our own fairy tale life remains far from conventional.