Welcome back, ladies, today we have a very special guest here on The Not-So Desperate Housewives – author and royal enthusiast, Ms. Jerramy Fine. I recently had the pleasure of reading her latest book, In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairy-Tale Dreams can Inspire Smart, Strong Women.
In my opinion, this book should be required reading for anybody who is raising a little girl or who was teased for being too feminine, too girly, or liking pink too much. (You know who you are!)
Ms. Fine, I absolutely love your latest book – it’s been a while since I read something I could not put down! I feel that its message is sorely needed in our society. “Femininity shaming” or “princess shaming” is something that I experienced growing up and I could relate so much to your story.
Why do you think we still have to prove, in 2021, that pink and feminine do not equal frail and passive?
I think convincing women that their innate strength is their greatest weakness is the oldest trick in the patriarchal book. I definitely don’t believe there is only one way to be a girl. If your daughter wants to wear camouflage, run through the mud and build robots – that’s wonderful, but why is that somehow better than if she wants to wear a princess dress, sit in the grass and build daisy chains?
“Femininity is a noble strength, not a source of shame.”Jerramy Fine
While dismissing someone purely because she is female is no longer acceptable, dismissing feminine qualities or feminine expression is still widely condoned. And it baffles me! Women are constantly told that the girl inside them isn’t good enough. And if anything goes against our womanly instincts, we should override it because the male way is obviously the right way.
In my book, I stand up for fairy-tale princesses of all kinds, but also for the princess in everyone – the princess inside you can be the female body you were born with, the female gender you identify with, or the feminine way you choose to express yourself. Whatever way you want to talk about it, “girly” does not mean inferior. And everything masculine should not be the default ideal!
Listen to your Inner Princess
“A true princess is about knowing your own worth and believing in yourself and your dreams.”Jerramy Fine, In Defense of the Princess
What steps can each of us take to open people’s minds to the true power of authentic femininity?
“Feminine” ideas are not recognized, valued, or maximized anywhere in American society. We claim we want gender equality yet continue to value breadwinners more than caregivers. Women are meant to “lean in” to masculine jobs, but no one is asking men to “lean out” into feminine ones.
Talking about fashion is silly but talking about sports or cars is perfectly acceptable. In the workplace (and on the world stage), risk, aggression, and zero-sum competition are celebrated; yet generosity, empathy and collaboration are considered last resorts.
It always makes me laugh when people say too much “girliness” is a problem. Have you looked around lately? Our world is drowning in violence, greed, cruelty, and fear.
The true danger had always existed on the opposite side of the spectrum. Toxic masculinity is the real culprit of our time. And as far as I’m concerned, the only way to neutralize it is with feminine ferocity.
To me, this means listening closely to your inner princess. It means embracing the royal virtues of kindness, compassion, benevolence, and mercy. It’s about looking after the well-being of your entire kingdom by standing up for what you believe in, protecting those that can’t protect themselves and using your power and privilege to enhance the well-being of your realm.
It’s about knowing femininity is a noble strength, not a source of shame.
What advice would you give on raising a daughter in this day and age?
That of course she can be whatever and whoever she wants. She has the power to do this already within her; she does not have to erase the feminine side of herself to find that power.
If she wants to forsake traditional office jobs to look after her home and children, that’s wonderful. In many ways, this is our highest calling – as long as we understand that the whole planet is our home and every single child on it is one of our children. And finally, to not let anyone tell her that the male way is the only way or even the right way.
Wonderful advice! You founded an etiquette course for young girls called Princess Prep – I would’ve loved to have attended something like that as a girl! What was the response from parents? Do you still teach etiquette to young girls?
I would have loved to attend something like that too – and that’s exactly why I set out to create it! The response from parents, at least American parents, was hugely enthusiastic. (The Brits less so – they seemed to think etiquette was inborn and could not be taught so overtly.)
But American parents couldn’t get enough – many mothers asked if they could join the course as well. Some mothers wanted to join on their own, without their daughters! I had really tapped into something deep here. I eventually decided to focus on writing full time, but interestingly, in the last few years, similar courses have since been implemented by both Debrett’s and the Plaza Hotel.
But what can I say? I was ahead of my time!
Indeed! Could you tell us about your future projects? Another book in the works?
My latest project has been in the works for a few years and got derailed several times during lockdown – but I’m very much hoping I can bring it into the world soon. It’s a novel, so my first attempt at fiction. It’s the story of an American girl who marries a British prince during a very turbulent political time and discovers that royal life is not at all the fairy-tale she had envisioned.
It’s a regal romance but it’s also about feminism, classism, racism, and the monarchy’s place in the 21st century. (And yes, I might have been inspired by real life events.)
Ooh! Looking forward to reading it already!
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Ms. Jerramy Fine. Were you also teased or shamed for your femininity? Let me know in the comments below. See you next time.
P.S. Something tells me you’d love to read my review of the English Manner’s Online Etiquette Program.
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