Why do girls feel powerless?

Rebecca Cuningham c. 1973 by John Cuningham

What makes Disney’s princess marketing so successful? What dream does it fulfill? Is it the dresses? Castles? A need to feel powerful, to have a voice? I had dreams of marrying a prince when I was a girl. That was before Disney went into high gear with biannual princess movies complete with dresses and doll merchandise. This was the 70’s. My parents bought me the vinyl record of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I played it over and over. Dressed in my orange velour cape and aluminum foil crown, I sang along to “I wonder” and “Some day my prince will come…”

I asked Mom about the eligible princes. She said my best bets in Europe were Charles, Prince of Wales; Felipe, Prince of Spain; Albert of Monaco, or Philippe of Belgium. Charles and Felipe looked the cutest in their Seventeen Magazine photos. (Good old print days, didn’t find them online. Click on their names here for similar photos of Charles and Felipe.)

I was obsessed with royalty, tapestries, taffeta dresses. I adored the 1981 wedding of Diana and Charles. Just like Diana was, I wanted to be elegant, respected, adored. If I were a princess, I’d feel beautiful. Truthfully, I thought I had to marry a powerful man in order to be the captain of my fate, sovereign of my destiny.

Then I saw how Princess Diana suffered in the limelight. I was crushed to find out my ideal, Princess, was a job with no privacy and perhaps no true love. My dreams had to change. What I realized after high school was getting the best education my family could afford would make me captain of my fate, far more than whom I chose to marry.

Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding was beautiful and I loved watching it. I don’t envy their lack of privacy, but I do see love in their eyes. Meghan is used to photographers and fans from her career in acting. The royal path looks right for her in a way it would have never been for private, introverted me. I am happy as a writer. I craft an essay in my voice, without the Queen of England editing my prose! A man didn’t rescue me, I saved myself. I can live my dreams on the road I’ve chosen. I have the power of words on my side.

What did you dream of as a child? How about now?


Para leer este ensayo blog en español, haz un clic aquí.

Rebecca Cuningham

5 thoughts on “Why do girls feel powerless?

  1. Excellent!! I do believe Meghan will be able to play the part. She is not as shy as Diana was and is used to the limelight. I dreamed of travelling the world and writing books. I made it happen.

    Liked by 1 person

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