For reasons I really want to write about at a later date, I’ve become somewhat of a feminist in the last 12 months. It’s been an odd thing – I’ve gone from feeling slightly ambivalent about feminism to being confident that I strongly identify this way. Not to sound emotional about the whole thing but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster - empowering, scary, shocking, maddening, exciting.
And as such I want to make sure my children, both Elfie and Hux, know they can do whatever they want to do in life, be whatever they want to be, no matter if they’re a boy or a girl. I try not to gender stereotype them, I’ve never dressed Elfie in pink and Hux in blue. Hux loves his tea set and Barbie and Elfie likes to craft guns out of LEGO (I think she learned about guns from her friends, all boys, at school?) and goes gaga for Spiderman. Yet despite this Hux still spends an unhealthy amount of time banging his head against walls (such a boy) and Elfie has a total love affair with anything Disney Princess.
Which is how I knew she would go into paroxysms of delight when I took her to the Disney Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Harrod’s . I really shouldn’t have told her about the expeirence so long in advance because for two weeks she spoke of nothing apart from the day she would be turned into a princess. All the teachers and lunchtime helpers at school knew, as did quite a few people in the supermarket as well as our next door neighbour. SHE WAS EXCITED!
And so last Sunday we arrived at Harrod’s looking like this (above), not particularly princessy, I think you’ll agree? We made our way to the fourth floor to see how this transformation would take place.
Now there is something I find totally magical about Disney. Disneyland Florida 1999 is still in my personal history books as the BEST HOLIDAY EVER and I literally get chills in our local Disney store. The stories, the characters, the music – it’s so wonderful, no matter how old you are.
When we first arrived at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Elfie was given a buzzer that would go off when it was our time to be transformed. A quick five minutes later and it was our turn – we were off to meet Charlie, our very own Fairy Godmother-in-training! Charlie used her magic to summon up the main woman, the Fairy Godmother, who told Elfie all about what it meant to become a princess. We were taught the magic words, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo! And we magicked the doors to the boutique open.
We’d selected the ‘Coronation’ package, which meant Elfie would be transformed into none other than Anna from Frozen. And upon being shown to her very own changing room – poof! – a few more magic words and Anna’s dress and a beautiful pair of glittery shoes appeared. It was magical!
The Fairy Godmothers-in-Training set to work. Elfie chose a hairstyle, a nail colour and face paints and was lavished with so much attention. At one point she had four Fairy Godmothers-in-Training attending to her every need: brushing her hair (which I am SO NOT ALLOWED TO DO, fyi), singing to her, reading her stories, painting her nails, talking to her about her favourite princesses… it was wonderful.
It was an absolutely priceless moment to see, she was so aware of being pampered and to see her feeling like the most important person in that room at that time – I felt so proud. She was beaming, absolutely lit up from the inside. She looked like a real princess, and I’m sure felt like one too, as ‘Princess Elfie’ had been her name ever since we’d entered the boutique. I’m not going to pretend I minded being referred to as ‘Queen’, either ;)
One of the best moments was when she got the first glimpse of herself as a princess. She couldn’t believe the way she looked. And then the seriousness with which Charlie crouched down and explained what was expected of a princess was lovely – that she was loyal, caring, kind and a friend to all. Pretty good life advice, really.
We were led to the ‘window’, where Elfie had her picture taken overlooking her kingdom, and then on to the royal throne where Elfie swore to behave in a princessly manner. Wide eyed, she was given a bag of goodies (a big cuddly Olaf that she hasn’t let go of since, Anna and Elsa dolls, a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique certificate, a framed photo of her as a princess and a little makeup bag) and we slowly wandered through the kids department and out of Harrod’s.
She refused to wear a coat (it was 6pm and FREEZING) but totally basked in the adoration of all the tourists who kept stopping her and telling her how beautiful she looked. This lasted for a while – two tube train journeys to be exact – until we boarded our train home and she promptly fell asleep. It’s tough being a princess!
The hair do stayed put for two days (luckily school was closed for training the next day) and the makeup lasted 24 hours. Basically she did NOT want to stop being a princess. She’s taking her princess crown and sparkly shoes into school for her ‘treasures assembly’ next week and hasn’t stop talking about the day since. It has obviously been a very special event for her.
It’s not the most feminist thing I’ve ever done with her but I would absolutely do it again. As important as feminism is to me I believe it is also important for children to be made to feel special. And on this day I could see that she knew just how special and beautiful she is from the inside out.
I can’t finish this write-up without praising the Fairy Godmothers-in-training. Each and every one we met was so sweet, enthusiastic and captivating to the little girls in the boutique. They were so lovely to us both, even at the end of what must have been a very long day for them. Ten out of ten.
When I found out the price of the experience – £300 – I wasn’t sure I would be able to justify that amount of money on an hour. But for what Elfie got out of it? I think it is definitely worth it. I’m already planning on taking her again for her birthday and I for one CAN’T WAIT.
You can find out more about the experiences (they start at £100) and book online at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique website here. And for what it’s worth, if they did the equivalent adult’s experience I’d be first in line.
Huge thank-you’s for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for having us last weekend. We will definitely be back!