I must admit, from the outset, that I’m not up on princess-worship: never have been. The Disney Princess juggernaut happened after I was grown, so that I was more likely to dress up on Halloween as Scooby-Doo or the Smurfs (in their first iteration), than as Ariel or Mulan or Belle. And my sons have never really been interested in princesses, either, thanks be to God; it’s hard for me to imagine playing dress-up with my kids, putting on frilly frocks and tiaras and wondering at the magic of fairy dust without a good deal of cynicism and perhaps some sublimated rage. Who knows, I’d probably want to stop mid-play to discuss the problems with “real” princesses, who are trailed by paparazzi and are both admired and resented people who set up false expectations for their royalty that can never be met—because princess are, in fact, quite human.
Like I said, thank goodness I’ve never been forced in to such discussions.
A few years ago, at my favorite Newberg bookstore, Chapter’s, I discovered a new version of the Bible that made my head want to explode. It was called God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible, and was edited by Shelia Walsh, a one-time Christian singing artists whose 1980s albums I owned (and, okay, loved). The premise of this particular Bible is that, in using it, “you can help your little girl blossom into the princess she was meant to be.” Because, see, she is a princess: “the daughter of the King!”
If that doesn’t make you tear a tiara in two, the product description just might. The book cover is bedazzling with its sparkly jewels because, of course, every woman needs a little bling to know she’s loved, by God. In addition to scripture, the book also includes features on the Bible’s many princesses, memory verse challenges, plays that are easy to perform, and songs girls can sing.And, of course, an entire section on “beauty secrets”: because, you know, if the Bible is about anything, it’s about how to apply make-up and put on adorable clothes for the “royal subjects” in your life (that is, “your family, siblings, friends and those in the community”) (As if most five-year-olds need any more instruction about how to make those around them bow to their every whims; I know only because I have kids, and also because my boys have been flummoxed by the playtime demands of a little princesses in their neighborhood.)
As Kendra pointed out in another post, there are Bible translations of every kind and, lately, there has also been a trend toward packaging Bibles to specific audiences: there are Bibles for teen girls and boys, for example, and for environmentally-conscious people, and for grandmas, too! So part of me thinks, what the heck? Another Bible translation, for another audience. But a competing part of me says that if Christian publishers continue to pump out different biblical translations, tailored to specific audience, why are folks so strident about the purity of God’s word, arguing—as the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood does, that “God would never want us to change His perfect, holy words to fit our own agendas or personal preferences. He even warns us against this (Rev. 22:18-19)!” So I guess making a Bible with sparkly covers to celebrate little princesses is somehow not changing a Word that is already perfect?
What bother me more, of course, is the sense that the Bible needs to be princess-fied for little girls. The God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible suggests that girls will be defined in relationship to others in their lives: as a princess to the King (in this case, God, solely define as male) and as a princess to her royal subjects.I also wonder what sparkly covers and beauty tips tell little girls about what God expects for them: surely not that they can grow up to be anything they want to be, even if they hate wearing lots of jewelry and have what Anne Lamott calls scriggly-scraggly hair (my girlhood fate, for sure!)
But here is where I worry my lack of princess culture may be getting me in trouble. As a certified tomboy growing up—and, okay, even now—I would have hated the God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible because of its pink prissiness, because of its sparkly cover and beauty tips, because it would have seemed entirely too lame to a girl more interested in riding real horses (and not pretty ponies). So I would not have been an audience for the God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible, and by virtue of my own anti-princess inclinations, would not purchase one, were I to have daughters. (Nor, I think, would I purchase a Little Prince Bible for my sons; the whole concept is distasteful to me.) I wonder if my own resistance to princess culture makes me myopic, though, so that I can’t really see any value in letting little girls be “princesses of the King!” I’m wondering, then, for those of you with daughters, or who grew up more enchanted by princesses than did I: what would you do?