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April 27, 2013

Disney's National Princess Week is more than merchandising

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Just because today is the last day of National Princess Week doesn't mean your young daughters can't continue to revel in the royal way of life.

First, a little background. National Princess Week began last year as a partnership between The Walt Disney Co. and Target. The goal was to create a week when little girls across the country could "celebrate the sparkle and wonder of every princess -- real, aspiring or imagined." Academy Award-winning actress, singer and best-selling children's book author Julie Andrews is the face of the campaign. She starred with Anne Hathaway in two "The Princess Diaries" movies, and has co-authored with her daughter the popular "The Very Fairy Princess" series.

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Of course, it's clear that this is a marketing campaign -- complete with new merchandise and special pricing on current Disney Princess items at Target. But that doesn't mean that families can't take the opportunity to celebrate royally with activities that don't necessarily involve a shopping trip and may even reinforce some positive messages for little girls. Andrews offers 30 ways to celebrate on her website. Here are some of my favorites, adapted to how my family would approach the ideas.

Ever since 1937's "Snow White," Disney, like no other media company, has understood little girls' fascination with princesses. Its later film adaptations of Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel and many other princesses would become cinematic and culturally iconic -- though routinely criticized in light of modern ideas regarding gender equality and empowerment.

But two of Disney's newest animated films star princesses who are strong, brave and think for themselves -- Rapunzel from "Tangled" and Merida from "Brave." These ladies do not wait for a prince to bring them happiness or to solve their problems and they learn from their mistakes and grow stronger because of them. Little girls who love the princesses might be thrilled with a family movie night, in which they are invited to dress as Rapunzel or Merida and watch one of these animated features again. And, who knows? The plots in both films might even provide a discussion opportunity between girls and their parents as they explore some of the themes of self-empowerment and the consequences of making the right choices.

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Another positive way to honor the spirit of the week is to volunteer. After all, real princesses perform charity work as one of their main duties. Find a local organization that supports a cause your family believes in and get your daughter involved. Even if it's just for one day, you have sent a powerful message to a young girl and helped your community in the process.

Of course, princesses are patrons of the arts, too, so it might be fun for your little girl to visit a museum or gallery in your hometown that you have yet to explore. You also could check out a play or musical geared toward kids. Let your child wear her favorite princess dress for the outing and see what you can learn together. Or, see if several little girls want to put on their own production of a princess story. Let them create the story line that achieves the happy-ever-after ending.

Living a life of royalty isn't all seriousness and high concepts, though. So don't forget the tiara! A tiara can be worn with any outfit and instantly makes a girl feel special. Recently, I spotted doll-size tiaras at Target in the birthday aisle. My 8-year-old daughter was so excited after seeing something similar recently at an American Girl store.

Finally, if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, here are 10 great ways to have fun with the Disney Princesses.


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About National Princess Week

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the National Princess Week category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

My Yard Goes Disney is the previous category.

New Year's Eve events for kids is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.