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‘Powerful Princess’ Teaches Girls About Strong Historical Figures

Now she holds workshops for girls and they love it

Anyone who’s the parent of an elementary-school-age girl knows there’s no escaping the Disney princess phase. The frilly dresses, tiaras, tutus, and sparkly slippers are all part of what Atlantic writer Andy Hinds calls the Princess Industrial Complex. But one mother in New York had enough of the Disneyfication of her daughter’s childhood, so she started teaching her about real-life princesses. Now, her Powerful Princess enterprise is catching on.


Erin Kelly’s daughter, Lydia, was obsessed with Disney princesses. “I got bored,” Kelly says, “and a little discouraged, and I said, ‘Lydia, could you play Cleopatra?’” This off-the-cuff remark led Kelly to start teaching her daughter about historical princesses who changed the world, such as Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, and Njinga, an African queen from the 17th century. Soon Kelly had started a Cleopatra Club at her daughter’s school.

After other schools became interested in the program, Kelly created Powerful Princess to teach young girls to emulate great rulers of nations rather than damsels in distress who are waiting to be saved by a prince. Now Kelly teaches workshops in New York City and offers a version of the program for birthday parties.

“I hope to teach these little girls stories about women in the past who were strong. Who had it rough but then they figured out ways to overcome,” Kelly says. “The girls come and they light up and they learn about these stories and the stories become part of them.” Now, if only Disney could find a way to mass-market real princess power, parents would encourage their girls to hit the princess phase instead of dreading it.

(H/T Little Things)

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