I am the mother of two quirky little science fiction-watching nuts. There is not a lot of princess paraphernalia or glitter in my life. This might be why I was unprepared for the miniature princess invasion of Green Mill one night a couple of years ago.

We had decided to go out to eat as a family. To settle an argument between my kids about whether we should eat pizza or chicken strips and french fries, we went to the Green Mill, where both pizza and chicken strips are on the menu. We were about halfway through our meal when all of a sudden we were surrounded by little pink, purple, sparkling princesses. Some dancing, some crying, some with runny noses, some with jeans and tennis shoes under their ball gowns, but all of them shrieking. Shrieking at the tops of their lungs. At first I thought they were upset. When my kids make noises that high-pitched and loud, blood and gore and possible broken bones are generally the cause of it. It took me a few minutes to realize these noises were shrieks of joy. My youngest son was looking around in fascination, while his dad and brother had their ears covered and a look of horror upon their faces.

I had no idea what was going on. I looked in vain for someone that could provide an explanation, but the waitstaff all seemed to have disappeared. I began to worry that the entire town had been invaded and taken over by little princess space aliens, when Ian, my youngest son, claimed he recognized a girl from his preschool. I sent him in to gather some information. You might think it careless of me to send in a five-year-old to do such a possibly dangerous job, but by this time I was pretty sure they were human, and Ian can be pretty charming (and even nosier than his mother).

He came back and reported that there was a Disney Princesses on Ice show at the convention center near the restaurant and that's is where these pygmy princesses were headed. I spotted what looked like the mom of this classmate nearly buried in tulle and introduced myself. After a short conversation, I asked her where they found these costumes in February, and she said that most of these girls had all of the dress-up clothes for all of the Disney Princesses. Her daughter had a duffel bag with several costume changes for the show. Princesses? What Disney Princesses? Racking my brain I could only come up with one -- Sleeping Beauty. I was pretty sure she was a princess. And I guessed Ariel counted, as her father was a king. But how could they have an entire show about two unfortunate girls?

I learned that night that there are something like ten Disney Princesses. Good grief. They consider Belle from the Beauty and the Beast a princess. Never mind that she lived in a hut and had no recourse against Gaston's sexual harassment because of her low status. I guess she married well. Then there's Mulan. I guess she's a princess too. I'm not sure how that happened. I don't think she married as well as Belle did, and if her father had been king, surely he would have gotten out of the draft on his own. I don't claim to be an expert here, but surely I am not that confused. Disney wouldn't just make up some nonsense and present it as fact just to sell stuff.

I learned from the Lilliputians that night that there is a whole Disney Princess world. Everyone has their favorite Disney Princess. Some were dressed as Snow-White, some as Jasmine (it seemed a little cold for that outfit), some Pocahontas, and lots of them were Cinderella. Apparently, since then Disney has added Tiana (Frog Princess), Rapunzel, and the girl from Brave (I guess her name is Merida). Evidently this is supposed to be empowering for girls. Indeed. When I asked these little girls at the Green Mill why they loved these princesses so much, for the most part they responded that the princesses are beautiful, have long beautiful hair, pretty dresses, and crowns. Except one little Mulan. She chose Mulan because she rode a horse and kicked butt.

Since then I have seen many references to Disney Princesses. The obsession with them and this obsession leading to empowerment continues to mystify me. I try not to complain too loudly anymore when there is a Godzilla or Star Trek marathon going on in my house. It could be worse.
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