Picture Books in Review: My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess

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In our society it is commonplace, even though we live in a Federal Constitutional Republic, for little girls to dream of being princesses. It’s also not uncommon for grown-up girls in college to want to be princesses as well, which is probably why I felt compelled to pull Heath McKenzie’s My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess off the shelf. I expected an adorable book full of pretty dresses and pink things, but what I got was so much more.

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess is the story of a little girl who dreams of being a princess. One day, her wish is granted when a beautiful princess appears to teach her everything she needs to know. The princess dresses the little girl in a beautiful gown just like her own, shows her how to eat at tea parties and how to stand around and wait… and wait… and wait… for a handsome prince to arrive. The little girl is less than psyched. The dress is far too tight and uncomfortable, she has to eat like a lady instead of diving head first into the giant cakes, and waiting around for a prince is the epitome of boring. Also, boys are gross. Even if they are princes.


At the end of the story, the girl decides that she is going to make a few changes to the rules of being a pretty princess. Instead of stuffy, boring dresses, princesses are now required to wear FABULOUS dresses. They must throw DELICIOUS tea parties, and on the last page, we see that the rule about waiting for a handsome prince has been completely scribbled out. Readers are left bursting with female empowerment and craving cake.

The little girl in this story poses as a perfect first role model for young girls, and this book is the perfect prerequisite for Feminism 101. However, upon closer inspection, this story about girl power takes a shocking turn that no one sees coming.

Things get a little more complicated when we take into account that the young girl and the princess who visits her look terribly similar. They have the same brown hair and blue eyes; the only difference is about twenty years. It is then that readers realize that the pretty princess the young girl encounters is actually just an older version of herself in a possible alternate reality where the young girl never learns the lesson of individualism and spends her entire life subscribing to the traditional gender roles set before her. Is this princess from a parallel universe? Or is she just an older version of the girl, going back in time to make sure she follows in her princessy footsteps? Does she realize that her very presence is throwing off the space time continuum, and she is destroying her own fate? Whoa. Princessception.

It should be noted that the original princess goes away when the little girl decides to create her own rules. This is a clear sign that a future in which the young girl becomes this type of princess is no longer possible. It also goes to show that this book is, like, really trippy.

There are numerous levels to the moral of this story. From the little girl’s perspective, this is a story of learning to be yourself. You don’t have to compromise who you are to be a pretty princess, and ultimately, you will be so much happier if you pave your own way instead of just doing what is expected of you. And from the perspective of the older princess, the moral is DON’T TRAVEL BACK IN TIME! Whether you have a time machine or not, looking back in hopes of improving your future is never productive and will probably end in the demise of life as you know it.

It goes without saying. This book is awesome. What I thought was going to be a cute book about princesses turned out to be a celebration of self-expression and surpassing the oppressive expectations of being the “perfect” princess. This is an important book that every little princess should encounter.

Last Updated on November 28, 2018.


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