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The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  45 reviews
How to raise empowered girls in a princess world

It's no secret that little girls love princesses. Behind the twirly dresses and glittery crowns, however, sits a powerful marketing machine, encouraging obsessive consumerism and delivering negative stereotypes about gender, race, and beauty to young girls. So what's a parent to do?

The Princess Problem features real advice an
Paperback, 317 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Sourcebooks (first published September 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Margaret Sankey
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I was only peripherally aware of the Disney Princess juggernaut, or how tightly coordinated and planned out it is. Hains, who worked as a birthday party princess as well as a researcher, offers both the behind the scenes marketing and casting as well as the applied results in terms of hardened earlier gender roles, body image and the awful effects of things like, say, only selling the official dresses in a limited range of sizes. I was lucky, I guess, to be a little too old to have encountered t ...more
McKenzie Tozan
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
It’s September, and in a matter of weeks, my first daughter will be born. In a rush of summer cleaning and nesting, reading parenting books and planning-planning-planning, I have also found myself searching for books to begin my daughter’s library, as well as books and resources that may assist in raising my daughter in the best way possible in the midst of today’s expectations. I wish I only meant researching the best schools and starting a college fund; but, unfortunately, what I’m researching ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own, first-reads
I won this book from a giveaway on Goodreads to review.

While I am completely aware of the whole "I'm a princess" issue we seem to have today in America, I am a fan of Disney and so of course, allow my daughter to watch the movies/tv shows. She even has the wall decals of each "princess" or girl from Disney, including Tink and her friends.

I don't completely agree with everything in this book. I don't see how this Dr goes on and on about how Disney forces these "princesses" on girls yet doesn't
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you loved Peggy Orenstein’s, 'Cinderella Ate my Daughter,' then you will relish Rebecca Hain’s, 'The Princess Problem.' Where Orenstein looks at “the dark side of the girlie-girl,” Hains expands the exploration of princess culture by turning toward its marketing and how it has affected consumerism long term. While the princess obsessed culture can be tricky to navigate, this book does not chastise the idea of little girls wanting to be princesses. However, it does offer insight into where Dis ...more
Becca Markland
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Society is heavily affected by princesses and their messages to little girls, and women. The Princess Problem by Rebecca C. Hains, PhD (copyright 2014) is a third wave of feminism guidebook that addresses the issue of princesses in our culture. She notes the impact of the princess culture and its effects on little girls, as well as grown women. Rebecca C. Hains in The Princess Problem supports the feminist movement, and hopes that feminism in our culture will further develop.

The Princess Problem
Blair Hodges
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Princesses everywhere. How can parents neutralize the negative impact princess culture can have on young kids while still allowing the kids their autonomy in the interests they pursue? This book has some great advice. It's really a book about raising media literate kids and how parents can establish open communication with their children.

I'll write a longer review later.
I raised two boys and two girls, so I know firsthand how ruthless marketing can be to children (and parents) of all ages. I also know that marketing to boys is different from marketing to girls as is product placement and the amount of merchandise available to boys vs. girls. We watched many Disney movies with the kids, and too often I was frustrated with the passive, beautiful princesses in the movies. My girls liked to play dress up, but they grew out of their princess fixation at a young age. ...more
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I could summarize the “Princess Problem” as the negative impact of the overall princess culture that is so pervasive today and that translates into stereotypes of gender, beauty, race and culture that ultimately shape what girls think of themselves and the world at large. The book explains the concepts and then provides valuable tools for parents to act as “pop culture coaches” to their children. As such, parents get actively involved in the entertainment choices their kids make and help them th ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the book. This is something that I'm fairly well educated in and I don't mind reading more time to time.

What I liked.
1) I love the emphasis on media literacy. It's important and she does a wonderful job addressing this in detail.

2) I loved that she pointed out that StrideRite and underwear are marketed differently between the todder genders.

3) Chapter 6 was my favorite. I feel like race is something that isn't discussed much. We've been looking for a Middle Eastern baby doll to add to
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Anyone with a child in their life (parents, grandparents, caregivers, etc.) should read this book. It's not bashing princess culture, but it provides practical advise for helping your children become media savvy. Boys can also learn from this!

We are inundated with marketing ploys in every facet of life and much of it is directed specifically to children, starting at age 2. Companies want to create "customers for life" and the Disney princess juggernaut is the perfect example.

Imaginative play is
Admittedly, this book was preaching to the choir. I already read the author's blog regularly, and agree with most (not all!) of what she says, and consider myself a feminist mother of two young girls. That is the grain of salt to take with this review.

The Princess Problem was an incredibly insightful read with many tips I plan to use with my children as I help them to navigate through childhood and to develop media literacy.

In this book, Hains addresses some of the key problems of "princess cul
Ragon Duffy
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, it's not like I didn't know this stuff already. I mean, as someone who has a daughter that adores princesses, glitter, sparkly dresses and all of that but has also managed to balance that with enjoying many things that are not particularly princess-like, there is already a pretty good balance in our house, nothing particularly new in this book. I did appreciate that it doesn't demonize the feminine, but advocates for the expansion of the feminine for all genders. I really appreciated the f ...more
Lori Day
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. Not only is it filled with practical advice for parents who are navigating the princess-obsessed years, but it is solidly grounded in research. Dr. Hains, a professor of media studies, is well equipped to lay out the issues in a way that parents can easily understand, while at the same time providing professional analysis that goes beyond what is typically found in the blogosphere. This book has depth and gravitas while being, at the same time, extremely accessible ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Will definitely be referencing this book many times in the years to come! The best part about it is the very practical suggestions to identify our family's media values, to teach our child about creating her own media (and therefore learning about the decision making process all Media creators undertake), and ideas for creating family dialog around these topics. Grown-ups may have the ability to place Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc., into historical context and understand the finan ...more
Monica Fastenau
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The author talks about being a pop culture coach, helping kids engage critically with movies, toys, and other areas of pop culture. I love this–you can’t protect your kids from all questionable media (although one of the earlier chapters walks you through creating a suitable media diet for your child), but you can give them the tools to deal with the hurtful messages our culture often presents. So important, so interesting, and definitely worth a read if you’re a parent or educator.

Read the full
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book describes a variety of problems with “princess culture” and how to navigate those problems without taking away something your child is enamored with. There are a variety of strategies presented to increase your child’s (and your own) media awareness.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
This book did a good job covering the bases of the problems with Princess Culture, from impossible beauty standards to lack of racial representation.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A guidebook to revisit year over year on how to discuss and empower our daughters (and sons by extension) to become confident, smart, realistic women. This will be useful as my daughter gets older.
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Offers helpful tools for coaching kids in media consumption. Focused on Disney Princess but applicable more generally.
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I borrowed this book from the library and unfortunately, only got through the first three chapters before needing to return it. That said, what I was able to consume was great! This book contains not only thoughtful analyses, but proactive measures that parents can take to empower their children, especially girls.

Hains central thesis is that since individual parents have little ability to affect the prevalence of a princess culture, what they can do to counter its potential negative effects on t
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
The name of the book is a little misleading but I got so much more from it than if it had been about princess culture specifically. It's actually a guide to consuming media with your children - specifically daughters but most tips are not gender specific - and helping them to become critical viewers of all content, not just princesses. I liked how the information was broken out with tips by age group, with so many that work for the stage we are in right now. I liked the book suggestions, both by ...more
Beth Weisberger
Dec 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this as part of a group read on FB with mom’s that are all pretty “normal” and have super girly girls. The book was easy to read and surprisingly reaffirming that my kid was developmentally normal, haha. But this didn’t need to be a full length book. I found it quite redundant and sometimes the anecdotal stories were a little cringe-worthy.

Most surprisingly/reassuring to me was that the princess phase is a 4-6 year old thing. I thought we were just getting into it....not about to be out o
Taylor Young
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely, recommend to any teacher friends or parents with young children. I never thought how detrimental Disney princesses can actually be to girls... It all makes sense now. C'mon Disney. Ya can do better!!! ...more
Holly Hillard
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
We are deep in the princess phase in our house right now. This was an interesting read with a few practical suggestions. I wish it was written a little more recently. It felt dated even though it is only 5 years old.
Heather S
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Parts were skimmable, but it has some good thoughts and helpful talking points in it that makes it worth at least a glance through for anyone with a princess-loving little girl
Bode Cauthon
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This book simultaneously scared the crap out of me and comforted me. Unfortunately there does not seem to be happy medium but I suppose we can take heart knowing how resilient children are.
I mean... a lot of it seemed fairly straightforward and obvious, but the book makes good points & offers helpful language.
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

This book provides some useful insights for those looking to help their daughters navigate princess-related marketing and obsession. The author elaborates upon why princess-related culture is problematic in so many ways (which I won't get into here). I cannot say that there were any ground-breaking insights, but the author's research and opinions related to princess culture are clearly stated, easily understood, and probably right-on i
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
This was a great read. I loved the focus on how we can teach our kids, even little ones, media literacy and how we as parents are essentially 'pop-culture' coaches. Rebecca Hains gives really insightful and practical ways on how to develop this capacity, and how to really engage kids in becoming critical thinkers at an age-appropriate level . It talks about being engaged with our kids whilst they are watching - have conversations, and not be complicit by silence when the messages are not aligned ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite not being a parent (nor planning to be one in the near future), I find the concept of "Princess Culture" fascinating, as was interested to see what insights the author had on the issue. This book was thoughtfully written to consider different intersections of princess culture with modern life in america, and the suggestions seemed (again, not a parent) smart and appropriate to the different situations each chapter was describing. I thought this book interesting, and i recommend it to oth ...more
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Dr. Rebecca Hains is a children’s media culture expert. She is a professor of media and communication at Salem State University in Salem, Mass.

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