Hayley Zablotsky spent her senior year of high school working as a party princess at a business that hosts children's events. She enjoyed looking the part, with a sequined gown, auburn wig, and petticoats, but she also considered what the princess fantasy meant for her, for the little girls who attended the parties, and for other people around her.
Sometimes I worried about what kind of role model I was for the girls. I was a beautiful accessory, a gracious flower. In real life, I was having increasingly ungracious thoughts. I had ambitions and opinions. I had a full-ride scholarship to college. I had skills. I had a wildly creative brain. But the little girls didn’t see this in me, and I worried that they didn’t see it in themselves. Or didn’t want it for themselves. At least not as much as they wanted a tiara. Or a prince.
I wanted them to realize what is real — everything. The curtseys, the sparkles, the princes (still hoping), the joy — yes. But also the dark edges. The floors are still cold under the plush pink rugs.
A little part of me felt betrayed by the illusion of it all, but that part of me also finally felt brave enough to function in the less-welcoming world of adulthood.