the princess rehabilitation project

So, the small one is nigh on three-and-a-half, and while this translates to all manner of amazingness from early reading to self-dressing, it also happens to translate to an all-consuming obsession with princesses.

The self-dressing is where it's at.
The self-dressing is where it’s at.

It started innocently enough. Last year, one of her best friends introduced her to the concept of 公主頭髮 (gong zhu tou fa), or “princess hair.”  Gong zhu tou fa is a bun. Cute, right?

Then everyone in her universe went and saw the movie Frozen. Everyone, evidently, but her. That didn’t change the fact, though, that she could sing Let It Go. Sort of. I mean, the song was taught to her by a three-year-old friend. The friend of gong zhu tou fa fame.

And then her mother (the mother of typing this post fame) took pity on her and let her watch Frozen. And the aforementioned mother let her watch 冰雪奇缘. Which is also Frozen, but it’s the Taiwanese version, in Mandarin. And the mother figured well what the hell she’s seen it now, and so she let her watch it again and again.

And so now the child can recite and sing the movie backward and forward in two languages. Okay. I mean, okay. So what. It’s not so bad. Sister love and both of them princeless at the end and one of them even altogether dudeless and all that. Sorry, spoiler alert.

But then came the evening when she put her hand at the level of her hip and said, “I want my hair to be here.” Because, as she informed me, gong zhu have hair that goes there. Princesses can have short hair, too, I told her, adding just barely internally that her excellent mother gave her a kickass bob. No, she insisted. Princesses do not have short hair. Princesses only can have long hair. Hair that goes to here.

Already I was thinking at that point that we needed some princess rehabilitation.

And then last weekend, we went to see the San Francisco Youth Ballet‘s production of The Nutcracker. Afterward, the small one clued me in to the fact that I now needed to buy her ballet shoes, ballet tights, ballet tutu, ballet dress, and ballet crown. Fine. I concede. But then she let me know that she couldn’t be a ballerina yet, but not because she lacked the appropriate accouterments. It was because she lacked the appropriate face. What does a ballerina face look like, you might ask? “All white and pink.” Not entirely sure how she got that, since the SF Youth Ballet is a gorgeous rainbow of balletic beauty. Clara? Hella Asian. But my daughter is entirely sure of herself on this point. She can’t be a ballerina with the face she’s got.

So, now it’s clear. Rehabilitation required.

The bob. It's kickass. Photo by Dan Jung.
The bob. It’s kickass. Photo by Dan Jung.

But how? It’s not like the child is mired in princess paraphernalia. It’s all Asian babies and Taiwanese tigers and whatever her brother’s done with.

Hey, maybe it’s not so bad. I mean, my cousin and I grew up pretending to be princesses holding court in our bachelor doctor uncle’s massive house, and now one of us is a pediatric anesthesiologist and the other writes a blog that five people read and one out of two is decent odds. So, my three-year-old daughter thinks her hair is wrong and her face is wrong and will in all likelihood grow up and be told her body is wrong (unless the Hapa roulette lands on her willowy Swedish part). Perhaps it’s all just the seasoning that will make her woman self emerge full-flavored after the too-short simmer of her childhood.

Or maybe now is when I need to reach in and pluck my little cutlet right out of that pot.

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  1 comment for “the princess rehabilitation project

  1. Farmie
    December 17, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    She is perfect just as she is. Oh please — I thought these wishes were taught and not inherent. Between you, me, and your mother — not to mention Baba and Farfie, and Wai Gong — how did this happen? I plead innocent– I am a 2nd wave feminist and still fighting strong.

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