“Princess Paradox” by James Poniewozik Essay

6 August

“Princess Paradox” by James Poniewozik

In the “Princess Paradox” James Poniewozik starts out his article by taking a stance against the princess movement, but then throughout the rest of his article he talks about how the movement is good for young girls by showing that they can control their own destiny. Unlike the “Princess Paradox”, Peggy Orenstein’s article “Cinderella and Princess Culture” takes a stance against the princess movement by stating that the movement is ruining the minds of young girls. Although both authors have feminist points of view, they have opposite opinions on how the princess movement affect young girls, which they try to prove by using different approaches to prove what their opinion is.

In their opening paragraphs both authors take a stance against the princess movement. Poniewozik starts out his article by saying that it is a recurring nightmare of high-minded modern parents of daughters, where the parents give many masculine toys, and then when Halloween rolls around they want to be a princesses; (666) while Orenstein writes her article from the perspective of a parent whose daughter was called a princess and treated as a princess everywhere she went, and Orenstein’s tolerance of this treatment grew shorter until she lost her patience. Though Poniewozik seems to take a stance against the movement in his opening paragraph he ends up leaning towards why it is a good thing for young girls, whereas Orenstein keeps her opinion the same, but she goes on to contradict the point that she was trying to make.

Both authors compare todays princess movement with the feminist movement that took place a few years ago. We’ve come a long way, it seems, from the girls-kick-ass culture of just a few years ago in which a 360 [degrees] flying roundhouse kick was a girl’s best friend. (Poniewozik 666) Poniewozik says that today’s Prince Charming has learned the lessons of feminism, or at least learned to pay lip service to them. (666-667) Orenstein on the other hand sees the princess movement as an anti-feminist movement, which she tries to support at first, but then she begins to contradict herself by saying that the princess movement be a sign of progress, and that at long last girls can have it all. (671)

The approach to the princess movement that both authors take is completely different from the other. Poniewozik uses the princess related movies for his approach, showing how they fit in the theme that the girl can have it all, while at the same time they can keep the feministic way, while Orenstein pulls all her information from the Disney’s Princesses. She takes her approach by claiming that the princess movement was started when Disney put nine of its female characters together and started to sell the princess movement to the public.

Poniewozik keeps his claim that the princess movement is good for young girls throughout his article which he tries to prove by using more opinion than fact. Orenstein started her article with the point of view that the princess movement is ruining young girls, but about half way through the article she states that she might be wrong. Where Poniewozik fails to give good facts to support his claim Orenstein seems to make up for when she goes on to give facts and evidence which disproves her own theory, but supports Poniewozik’s. Poniewozik’s proof of his theory is rather hollow, but is more filled if you add in the facts and information from Orenstein’s article. On the other hand Orenstein lacks proof to prove her stand against the princess movement and to prove how she could be right. Most of the information that she tries to use to back up her theory is formed from her opinion, which makes the proof for her theory rather hollow.

Poniewozik talks about how the princess movies show what a princess should be like and that there is a strict set of rules and conventions; she should be pretty, but in a class president way, not a head cheerleader way, she should be able to stand up for herself, she must be socially conscious, and above all she should not want to be a princess until she changes her mind that is. (668 Poniewozik) Orenstein says similar things such as girls feel like they have to follow a certain set of rules to be accepted; school-age girls overwhelmingly reported a paralyzing pressure to be “perfect”: not only to get straight A’s and be the student-body president, editor of the newspaper and captain of the swim team, but also to be “kind and caring,” “please everyone, be very thin and dress right.” (673)

Orenstein found that Disney’s secret to selling their princess products was that all they had to do is think like a little girl would about princess items. Such as, what type of bed would they want, what type of alarm clock would they want to wake up to, and what type of TV would they like to watch, and etc. Few girls will completely bedeck their room, but if she ends up with three or four of these items, well you have a healthy business. (673 Orenstein) Poniewozik found a similar occurrence with princess movies. He says that Hollywood is discovering that it still does not pay to fight the royal urge. (Poniewozik 666) Following 2001’s $108 million-grossing _The Princess Diaries,_ Hollywood waved its wand and conjured a set of Cinderella stories for girls, including The Prince and Me and Ella Enchanted, as well as A Cinderella Story and its sequel. (Poniewozik 666)

Both authors stated their claims and presented their evidence, they both have opposite views, but yet the evidence is similar in many ways. Although both authors have feminist points of view, they have opposite opinions on how the princess movement affect young girls, which they try to prove by using different approaches to prove what their opinion is. Poniewozik’s argument was proven with some facts he had, while Orenstein did not support her argument very well and only helped make Poniewozik’s argument better, and to disprove her own.


Orenstein, Peggy. “Cinderella and Princess Culture.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Suzanne Phelps Chambers. Upper Saddle River: Longman, 2011. 670-673.

Poniewozik, James. “The Princess Paradox.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Suzanne Phelps Chambers. Upper Saddle River: Longman, 2011. 666-669.

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