Dear Hilton Hotel Leicester,
We have enjoyed a very lovely stay in your hotel this weekend. We received a warm welcome from your reception staff, our request for extra pillows was met swiftly with a knock on the door and a delivery from a friendly porter only a few minutes later, and my daughter (7) was thrilled to received a welcome pack designed to entertain and amuse her during our stay. As we strolled along your plush-carpeted corridors towards our room, she spied a door hanger on the doorknob of one of the rooms we passed, which sported a witty pirate motto. Amused, she was then excited to open her own “Bizzi Bag”, noted the incorrect and frankly ridiculous spelling, and peered inside in search of her own door hanger.
She was dismayed to find, not a cool pirate theme but instead, activities sporting pictures of princesses. After her initial question (“Why didn’t they just ask me what I preferred mummy?”), she dug out the door hanger and was – there is no other word for it – infuriated to discover that it sported a “princess checklist”. This suggested that a princess needed the following “essential” accoutrements: a tiara; a pretty dress (“Do boys have to have a “handsome” outfit too, mummy?” Erm, I’m not sure darling… I’m sure the hotel pack would not encourage ONLY its female residents to judge themselves on the basis of aesthetics alone and reinforce the concept of femininity as purely based on how you look to other people…” I thought); sparkly shoes (see previous comment)… The final item for a princess to “check off” on her list was…a handsome prince. Seriously?
Hilton, this is 2015. I am trying to teach my daughter that independence (practical, emotional and financial) is a valued attribute. I am also instilling her with an open-minded attitude to sexuality, so her first comment “Maybe a princess would prefer another princess instead of a prince” seemed a reasonable one to me. The fact that this was followed by “Do you HAVE to have a prince to be a princess?” simply saddened me. Personal fulfilment does not and should not depend on a romantic attachment to another human being. I want my daughter to feel empowered to make her own choices. This includes what to wear, whether and with whom to get married/ form a long term relationship.
And maybe, just maybe, that individual decision-making process could be practised with the smaller decisions in life.
Such as which welcome pack she would like.
This is one small example of myriad decisions that I would like my daughter to be allowed to make for herself. If that is not too much to ask.
Proud mum of a strong-willed, independent seven-year old.