Ten years ago (ten years ago? Crikey…), I was signing up for a gaming forum and needed a login name/alias. For those of you who have ever had to create a gaming alias, you probably know what a defining moment in the origin story this can be. I chose “Mordrellyn,” for one of my favorite D&D characters, and “Princess,” because aforesaid character was the daughter of a noble house.
Princess Mordrellyn. That’s my name. I’ve ended up recycling that as an online alias a lot, this past decade (decade? Crikey…).
This is what people would call me in-game, although frequently, it would get reduced to just “Princess,” which I was fine with. Really, how could I not be okay with being directly addressed as “Princess”?
It didn’t give me pause until several years later, and the acknowledgement that I think “Princess” means something different to most other people. Normal people– and I don’t generally try to guess what normal people thing– but normal people, I’m pretty sure, think “princess” and go to Princess Peach frilly pink dresses. Out of curiosity, I did a Google search for “princess,” and was greeted with a wall of wide-eyed Disney girls.
Nothing against the Disney girls. But “princess” means something different for me.
Princesses help to topple evil Empires and sass Darth Vader to his face. Princesses double as badass ninja warriors when they’re not governing Hyrule. Princesses mother dragons and prepare to conquer Westeros. Princesses run with wolf mothers and battle nightwalker demons in the forest. Princesses fling their chakram into battle whilst loosing ridiculous war cries.
And how about The Paper Bag Princess, which was pretty much the best feminist picture book in the history of ever? Seriously – if you have any picture-book-age kids in your life right now, get them this book. (Synopsis: Princess loves Prince. Prince gets captured by a dragon. Princess dresses up in a paper bag (all her pretty dresses were burned in the dragon attack), outsmarts the dragon and rescues the bejesus out of Prince. Prince tells Princess that she is dressed poorly and to come back when she is dressed like a princess again. Princess tells Prince that he’s a bum, and she goes dancing off into the sunset. The end!)
The language of princessification is a huge part of the wedding industry. Every wedding website/gown designer/venue/beautician/anything ever talks about how the girl will be a princess for a day. And of course there are shades of interpretation to any word or classification, and of course people are entitled to whatever “princess wedding” means to them, but everyone is going princess this and princess that, and I’m like, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (or to borrow a phrase, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”)
Yeah, sometimes princesses smile demurely and give a pretty wave and a little pout.
And sometimes princesses rain down fire and wreck shit.
My lovely hair-and-makeup lady asked about my desired hairdo aesthetic for the big day. I wrote back: “Rebel princess” seems to best capture what I’m going for. Certainly, plenty of ladies aim for a princess wedding – I just think my version of the princess probably does some dragon-slaying and archery tournaments on weekends.
I dunno. We all have words we like and don’t like. “Princess” is just one of those words that clicks for me – the warrior princess, the rebel princess, the politician princess, the princess who puts up a fight. Maybe I just like the idea of wearing pretty dresses and a tiara and a sword at my hip. It’s the best of all possible worlds.
Wedding is in a little less than two months. I’m going to be wearing a pretty princess dress and a tiara. Can’t guarantee a sword on my hip, but our best man and best lady have given us to believe that a couple sweet bow and arrow sets will be coming our way, which delights loving fiancé and myself to no end. And I’ll be a princess for a day – on my terms. Maybe it’s shallow and escapist on some level, but for me, it’s about pairing beauty with strength, grace with ferocity, gentleness with authority.
That’s the kind of princess I want– and will always strive– to be.