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This Dad Couldn’t Find a Story That Represented His Family, So He Wrote It

When his daughter asked him to draw a princess, Mark Loewen – psychotherapist, creator of Brave Like a Girl, and author of the book“What Does a Princess Really Look Like?” – didn’t hesitate. He drew her head, her hair, and he said: “what beautiful hair she has”. And then he stopped. Frustrated to see how we naturally focus on the physical aspects of a woman, Mark gave his daughter something different. And he wrote a book for girls and boys about this.

“As soon as I said that I felt very uncomfortable. So I started over. This time, instead of talking about her beautiful hair and her pretty clothes, I told a story about her strength, courage, and determination”, Mark mentions.

“What Does A Princess Look Like?” tells the story about Chloe and how – with the help of her two dads – she creates her own princess. One that is strong, brave, curious, fun, among other amazing qualities. “As a dad to a girl,” Mark explains, “I’ve been confronted with gender inequality in different ways than before. It’s one thing to notice gender bias with friends and coworkers. But it’s a whole new experience when your own bias can affect how a child sees herself.”

The importance of representation

While this blog is typically about play, stories also play a crucial role in a healthy child development. And a story as important as this one is one worth sharing. The book, which debuts on July 1st, is an excellent opportunity to show children the importance of equality. On one hand, gender equality and how girls are so much more than their physical appearance. It offers an important representation for diverse families – whether that’s same-sex parents, single parents, or any other that’s different from the traditional family that’s usually portrayed in stories.

“As part of a two-dad family, I noticed that there is a complete lack of representation of LGBT families in picture books. Most picture books that include LGBT parents specifically talk about family structure,” Mark explains.

This motivated him to craft a book for children which could help represent diverse families. “I want my daughter to know that amazing girls come from all kinds of families. And even further, I hope that the book exposes children from more traditional households to different family structures.”

How to raise a feminist daughter

The book also talks to us about a feminist perspective. A story in which the princess isn’t saved or worshipped by her beauty. Instead, she’s a princess that uses her talents to do some good in the world. She’s not afraid to use her voice in situations of injustice. A princess that wants to unapologetically conquer the world.

In many ways, the creation of this princess is no more than a reflection of what the main character (and many girls that read it) already have within them. In a way, this princess validates the inner strength that we already have.

I asked Mark how he plans to continue raising a feminist daughter. “This is my favorite question, and probably the hardest one to answer,” he answered,  “because as parents we are often very aware of our shortcomings. I’m grateful for so much literature that’s out there. I’m definitely going to continue reading and learning. Authors like Rachel Simmons (who endorsed the book) and Perry Orenstein helped me be more conscious of how girls may experience the world differently than boys. I will always check in with women around me, and ask them about their experiences. Most importantly, I hope to always be open enough and listen to my daughter.”

The fight towards equality

This is a story about the strength of women and how to fight against the societal pressures we often face when we are reduced to the way we look. In a more subtle way, Mark also wishes that other diverse families see themselves represented in his book.

” I’ll encourage fellow dads to keep in mind that girls and women experience life differently. So, to fellow allies, and especially fellow feminist dads, I would just say, believe women. There are so many ways to be an ally to LGBTQI+ people.  Honestly, I have felt the most comfortable when people just treat me and my family as normal people,” was Mark’s answers on how we can become better allies in our lives.

“One thing I can specifically think of right now is about supporting children with non-traditional families. It helps so much when other children already understand that a child can have two dads or two moms (or a single dad, or a single mom!) Our daughter explains her family to other children all the time.  So it would help if people used books like “What Does a Princess Really Look Like?” to expose their children to all kinds of families before they meet a non-traditional family,” Mark explains.

His final message is my favorite: “children get it when you explain it. It really doesn’t take much. Reading books about different kinds of families with your kids is a good first step!” More importantly:

If there is love, there is a family.

“What a Princess Really Looks Like?” is available to pre-order here.  

This Dad Couldn’t Find a Story That Represented His Family, So He Wrote It

Mariana Plata


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APA Reference
, . (2018). This Dad Couldn’t Find a Story That Represented His Family, So He Wrote It. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 19, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/play/2018/06/this-dad-didnt-read-a-story-that-represented-his-family-so-he-wrote-it/

 

Last updated: 19 Jun 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jun 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.