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Pretty Pretty Princess

A Real-Life (Party) Princess Spills the Magic Beans on Princess Culture [VIDEO]

Princess Marty, The Party Princess from NPR on Vimeo.

What does it take to be a real-life princess? “A lot of muscle,” according to M. Alice LeGrow, a.k.a. Princess Marty. “You can’t be a wilting flower. Have you ever walked around in a corset and a ballgown? It’s hard! …Not to mention every child wants to be picked up at least 40 times.” LeGrow, who was profiled by NPR in this short video on party princesses, was a comic book artist before her publisher went out of business and she started her new career. The fact that she’s someone personally involved in “princess culture” makes her take on it all the more refreshing.

(via: Mental Floss)

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  • Starman

    I had the good fortune to meet M. Alice LeGrow at a con a few years ago. She helped me with raising funds for my public library’s manga collection and is as gracious and wonderful as the princesses she plays.

    She also does superhero parties for girls and I did a story about a Supergirl party she held several months ago on my blog before NPR picked this up. :)

  • Chanel Diaz

    I never had a problem with princesses, but I still do have a problem with “princess culture.” Rulers of kingdoms are Queens and Kings, not princesses and princes.

    Princes and princesses are NEXT in line, not THE line to governing lands. That’s why My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic drives me so insane with this! It’s like wanting to be the secretary, but never the boss, a forever-aprentice, a student that never becomes the teacher. Or just confusing the definitions of ‘secretary’ for ‘boss,’ an ‘apprentice’ for ‘master’, and ‘student’ for ‘teacher.’

    The fact that boys aren’t so crazy to be a prince and not king in comparison with girls being obsessed to become princesses and not queens, I think that underlines the problem with “princess culture” because girls are subconsciously not wanting to be a ‘leader.’

    And it sucks to be treated only as good as breeders because back then there were hardly any queens for that reason, right there.

  • you guys

    She’s almost got it, but doesn’t quite look inbred enough.

  • Alasdair Murray

    Great video, and M. Alice LeGrow seems kind of awesome. She previously wrote at length about doing this party princess stuff in a thread at, together with some cute illustrations, which frankly everyone should read ‘cos it’s so funny:

  • Dlee

    I remember once when I was little when someone asked me why I wanted to be a princess, why not a queen because queens are the ones who are in charge. I think I answered with how queens are OLD and I wanted to be young and beautiful and free. Queens had to sit on a throne all day while princesses got to dance and sing and visit the forest for adventures. I’m not sure if all kids would be aware of the difference between the two roles but it’s definitely possible and may partly explain why kids prefer princesses.

  • Chanel Diaz

    But Queens are in charge. In real life and in true definition. Being a princess is like being a girl, girls should want to grow up into women, not stay in girlhood, where they’re in need of parental supervision and are not mature and independent adults yet. That’s infantilization.

    “young, beautiful”

    Well, it’s not like Disney and other Big Media hasn’t helped Perpetuate the Myth that Queens are evil, old, ugly, hags. So I’m not surprised with your associative characteristics of princess versus queen.


    Culture Conditioning. There’s not a lot of positive Feminism going on in a typical princess movie. I’ve read enough analytical critiques and seen princess movies enough times to notice unfavorable patterns of male and female characters. Starting with instilling to both girls, boys, women, and men the idea of a female leader, a QUEEN, is wrong for the female and for society. This is where a lack of prominent female leaders and damsels in distress come from. And even if the princesses dance, sang, and “visited forests for adventures,” because as I’ve said, there’s not a lot of feminism going on, they will soon become helpless to continue when some foe will surely come along and NEED Prince Charming to save them, both from the foe and from themselves, because of, well, infantilization.

    As long as girls and women are stuck thinking they have to be ‘supermodels,’ seriously, look at the waists of Disney Princesses, and need to be associated with men, seriously they need men to survive, both for their health and in happiness, they and their female audience admirers will never be free.

  • Becca C.


  • Terence Ng

    Is she the one who did that AMA-style thread a while back? I don’t think it was Reddit, but another popular posting site…

  • Kat Covington

    M Alice LeGrow is still a comic (or manga) artist. She’s behind Bizenghast, and last I heard, was working on some newer things. She’s also SadWonderland on deviantART.

  • Brian

    FWIW, Lauren Faust wanted Celestia to be a queen, but Hasbro insisted on Princess, and they own the ponies.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I’m not mad at Lauren Faust for that, I knew that. But what ticks me off was that is was ‘Meticulous’ decision to do that because of the idea that girls are obsessed with princesses. Even if that’s true, it shouldn’t be encouraged.

    Celestia, sounds, looks, and acts like a QUEEN, not a princess. And that’s a good thing. Dlee’s basically saying how she thought queens were old, ugly, and enslaved, when especially for that last part, is not the case. Celestia has an important job LEADING her kingdom and yes she sits on her throne, making new policies and laws and creates order, but she still has fun every once in a while. The only princess should be Luna, because than it would actually make sense, since she’s not really making the big, big decisions.

    I know I’ve read how princes got promoted, whether by themselves or someone else to kinghood, so there’s no reason why Celestia can’t do the same and her ‘princesshood’ is only the long history reason of the patriarchal bias as far as staying in her ‘underdeveloped state.’

    I don’t hate princesses at all, just like I don’t hate girls, girlhood, the state of being prepubescent, just when girls are literally obsessed with staying in a ‘undeveloped’ state.

    This is where girls start to get self-concious at an age where it shouldn’t really matter. And possibly the reason why girls don’t excel at roles, like mathematics or head school programs, in school, because it’s “ungirly” or something.

    As I mentioned specifically why I hate “princess culture,” it’s completely cultural sexist bias against female leaders and just for being proud of their aging into adulthood, and explains the reasoning of people like Dlee.

  • Brian

    I honestly have such an internal filter for the damn princess culture that I instinctively think of her as Queen Celestia. It started when I was a nine years old boy reading Wizard of Oz books, and started thinking of the ruler of Oz as Queen Ozma. I mean, there was no one above her, so it stood to reason.

  • Chanel Diaz

    THANK YOU. Now I don’t feel crazy for doing the same thing for Queen Celestia. ;D

  • Katie Miller

    Interesting; Legrow seems pretty cool. The whole princess thing… it’s always tricky with these kings of words and ideas, because on the one hand you want to reject the box that the ‘princess’ image tends to put women into. On the other hand you don’t want to reject feminine words for their cultural weakness.

    Like, it’s be great if we could encourage young girls to aspire to the word ‘queen’, with all its implications of actual power and adulthood etc. But ‘princess’ shouldn’t be an inherently weak role. I dodn’t really have any conclusions to offer, but I have this thought:

    There’s a lot of talk around about the word ‘princess’ having inherent qualities of infantalisation. It’s true that in a lot of cultural depictions of princesses the term is synonymous with ‘female heir apparent’. But it’s worth remembering that this id just one iteration of the ‘princess’ title in real life. ‘Princess’ can also be a lifelong, adult title, e.g. people like Princess Margaret (Queen Liz’s late sister), Princess Anne (the queen’s daughter and Beatrice and Eugenie (her granddaughters). For such people, ‘princess’ is a permanent honourific, not a temporary term until they get the ‘real’ title of queen’.

  • Jason Burnett

    I don’t think that princess culture has anything to do with girls not wanting to be leaders. It has to do with kids not wanting to do things that they perceive as “boring.” When I was a little boy and my friends and I played cops and robbers, we never had a police chief. We all knew that the police chief was in charge, but we also knew that he didn’t get to run around and chase bad guys, which was what we all wanted to do. Regardless of which positions had more power, we wanted the ones that had more excitement, more opportunity for adventure, and more fun.

  • Brian

    Next time I play with my nephews, I’m going to make one of them the chief, and teach him to say “Dammit, McCloud, I want results!” and “You’re a loose cannon!”

  • Chanel Diaz

    Well, if you just look at how many female leaders there are in real life like female CEOS, Bosses, Presidents, Rulers of Monarchies, and etc. I think it’s safe to say that “Princess Culture” has something to do with girls not aspiring to be leaders.

    I wouldn’t compare a simple game like ‘cops and robbers,’ which can be considered gender-neutral to both girls and boys and just means tag ( to the construct of girls wanting to be princesses instead of queen for no rational explanation other than SNOW WHITE, ARIEL, CINDERELLA, BELL1!!!

    If you said there’s an exact opposite scenario called “prince culture” with boys not wanting to be a king, but only princes, than sure.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I don’t want to repeat myself, so read and reply if you want to what I wrote about it below, but do those ‘princesses’ have as much power as a queen?

    I know there are real life princes and princesses who aren’t exactly as young as Disney has depicted long-life princesshood, but they still didn’t seem to hold comparable power to a queen or king.

  • Jayne

    Holy christ Chanel Diaz SHUT UP!

    You are applying your ideas and your own personal issues to things kids just don’t think about. Kids see princesses as positions of power and responsibility. They rule the realm as far as kids imaginations go. They aren’t sitting around going ‘I want to be a sidekick to the queen’. There is nothing wrong with identifying with the younger role because they are young as well. It’s more relatable for them to think of themselves as a princess more than a mother and Queen. There isn’t anything wrong with that. In the movies the princesses are shown to be leaders, heroes and adventurers. They are every bit the leaders and role models a Queen would be. Kids aren’t viewing them as damsels in distress that need to be saved. It’s like Marty said, you ask a girl why she wants to be a princess and she’ll answer that she wants to be in power. You don’t sit down and correct her and say that she has to be a Queen to want that. Not only is it ruining a child’s fun, it’s ridiculously incorrect. There are plenty of real life as well as make-believe princesses that hold a ton of power and are fantastic leaders and role models.

    You are ripping all the fun, imagination and enjoyment out of a childhood fantasy for no reason. You are also belittling and degrading all the real life princesses out there that do a whole lot of good out just because they don’t have the particular title you think they should have. They don’t have these preconceived notions that you do and wont be negatively affected by it until someone like you puts it into their heads. Let the kids have their fun and use it as a wonderful teaching tool for the real responsibilities a princess would have.

  • Ruth Raynor

    Something Awful in the Ask/Tell section of the forums:

  • Chanel Diaz

    Nothing like “Princess Culture” to just “shut, up!” the Feminists, girls, and women, alike.

    I’m sorry, if all I asked was More Variety and Quality and that Offends you. I never said Princesses were bad, but yet you seemed to think I said that.

    You also think I hate little girls and want to destroy their hopes and aspirations.

    Quite the opposite, I want little girls to have hopes and aspirations that will Truly Empower them. Because I Honestly feel there’s a link to the Lack of Women in Positions of Power and “Princess Culture.”

    They could be Princesses for fun, but why does the media constantly encourage only ‘princesses?’

    It’s like up to the point of obsession that they Forget it’s not even going to be relative to their career choice:

    “No reason” “all the fun” “positions of power”

    Didn’t I talk about this in my comments below, hmm, but, hey, you can discredit me completely with such Simple Repetitive Retorts. It’s like I’m talking to the boys who don’t even know when they’re Involved in the Sustenance of Patriarchal Culture.

    I don’t hate all Princesses, but when I was a little girl, the only Disney Princess I liked, who may or may not even count, was Pocahontas.

    Granted, even that story’s not perfect (much less Historically Accurate), but out of all the glittery, bright, doll-face and doll-eyed, mostly white, princesses, I chose her. My sisters chose Ariel and Snow White. I think even back then, I was a Feminist looking for the most independent and not man-crazed WOMAN I could find. And get. I loved how Pocahontas STOOD UP TO EVERYONE and how she even stopped Racist Violence. Don’t tell me you can’t Relate that kind of Lesson to Practice Outside that ‘Princess Fairy Tale.’

    This articles explains the Sexism that got passed the Radar and also shows how Disney Improved their Princess Formula. I just know when I have a Daughters, I’ll actually think twice before letting them watch something ‘Princess-Based.’

    But, overall, there are Princesses I like (Tiana, Rapunzel, Mulan?,Pocahontas) but just not as my only kind of Monarch Position, so “Princess Culture’s” always annoyed me.

    Watching the ‘See Jane’ Video reminds me why I felt like I had to keep putting myself in “Boy Roles” just to feel like I could Contribute to Society that a bunch of ‘Princessy’ stuff never made me feel like I could. It’s unfortunate that people still need to Conform when it’s Obvious the Conformity is not really Progressing Womenkind further:

    ‘Feminist Frequency: Toy Ads and Learning Gender’ Also seems to Highlight why I find this kind of Culture Unprogressive:

  • Casey Romano

    But princes and princes can totally, and indeed historically have ruled; just not over kingdoms. They rule over principalities.

  • Chanel Diaz

    But, I was talking about kingdoms. :/