About Powerful Princess

I started Powerful Princess when I couldn't stand another moment of "Let's play Cinderella." There had to be a better way to satisfy my daughter's princess cravings. And then we stumbled on Cleopatra.

Erin's Family

How Powerful Princess Began

Hi, I’m Erin Kelly and I created Powerful Princess when my daughter, Lydia, became obsessed with Cinderella.

Every day, she put on that ratty blue Cinderella dress that friends had given her. “Can we play Cinderella again, Mom? You be the stepmother.”

The game was boring. And discouraging. My daughter dreamed of scrubbing the floor?

Finally, I said, “Lydia, let’s pretend you’re Princess Cleopatra. You ruled the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Her eyes lit up. And Powerful Princess was born.

I talked to professors at Yale, where I’d studied, about Cleopatra and how she could relate to little girls. I used my skills as a former editor at Fortune magazine to craft stories about real queens from history.

Bingo! She loved it.

“Let’s learn more about Egypt, Mom,” she said.

A Cleopatra Club

Thrilled with her interest, I started a Cleopatra Club at her Brooklyn elementary school. We did crafts and learned about Cleopatra’s story. The girls brought the passion of five-year-olds to the story, utterly indignant that the Roman Empire threatened to invade Egypt: “That is SO MEAN!” Immediately, I had waiting lists, and moms emailing me, begging me to find a space for their daughters.

One mom said to me, “You talk to girls about power. My daughter deals with power on the playground every day. Nobody else is doing this.”

Yes, power. The princess stories go to the heart of what girls deal with. Finding your strength when life is hard, dealing with the girl who won’t let you sit with her at lunch today, even though she did yesterday. Being yourself when the world doesn’t want you to.

Why This Matters Now

My daughter is in middle school now, and Cinderella has given way to Miley Cyrus. Lydia brings home a Seventeen magazine that promises, “Flat abs by New Year’s.”

Already she is starting to question whether she’s OK, whether she looks Ok. It’s hard to watch.

What can I do? I can keep telling her stories about women who were brave despite what everyone around them said.

About Cleopatra who stood up to an empire.

About Elizabeth I of England who told her incredulous courtiers that she didn’t need to marry, that she could rule on her own.

About Njinga (Jing-a) of Angola who became so skilled with her bow and arrow that she as a middle-aged woman fought the Portuguese soldiers who tried to seize her country.

Better than flat abs by New Year’s, or scrubbing the floor and waiting for your prince.

That’s why I believe in Powerful Princess.

Thanks for reading. I hope we’ll be in touch.