I was a blonde princess

The Compass - - OPINION - Melissa Jenk­ins is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass News­pa­per in Car­bon­ear and can be reached at melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Editorials and col­umns of­ten al­low a writer to push bound­aries more than a typ­i­cal news story. A piece of writ­ing can be one-sided and it can be opin­ion­ated.

A col­umn that ap­peared in the North­east Avalon Times news­pa­per last week was just that.

The col­umn, head­lined “Pa­thetic in Pink,” was writ­ten by au­thor Robin McGrath and had some choice words con­cern­ing blonde haired, blue-eyed princesses who wear pink.

Nor­mally, I would turn the other cheek. But be­cause it hit so close to home, I want to ad­dress it here.

I was born blonde. In fact, I am still nat­u­rally a shade of dirty blonde, although my hair colour changes with the sea­sons.

I am also what some may re­fer to as a for­mer princess. In 2004, I was Miss Teen New­found­land and Labrador. The dress I wore for the pageant was pink.

At my first event, I wore a pink sweater. For Hal­loween, I went trickor-treat­ing at the Janeway dressed like a princess in a pink puffy tulle ball gown.

The only thing pre­vent­ing me from be­ing the tar­get of the ar­ti­cle is that I have brown eyes. But I have a sis­ter who was born blonde, has blue eyes and once held the ti­tle of Miss Car­bon­ear.

I have another sis­ter who is a brunette with hazel eyes and was Miss New­found­land and Labrador. She cur­rently runs two suc­cess­ful pageants for young girls — with all hair colours — ages eight to 12 and 13 to 18. She also man­aged a pageant for young chil­dren from birth to age five this past Septem­ber.

We are what some may call a pageant fam­ily, but in no way do we con­sider our­selves en­ti­tled, like the ar­ti­cle sug­gests.

“I want to… squash their sense of su­pe­ri­or­ity,” McGrath wrote.

Not once in my life have I felt like any­one owed me any­thing. I ’ve worked hard for what I have, in­clud­ing my car, my ed­u­ca­tion and my job.

Sev­eral me­dia out­lets have re­ported that the ed­i­tor and pub­lisher of the pa­per has said the in­tent of the ar­ti­cle was mis­un­der­stood and that the ar­ti­cle was a com­men­tary was about princess cul­ture and mod­ern parenting.

“Lit­tle girls don’t have the money to buy pink princess out­fits or fairy wings, or pink, bat­tery-pow­ered Bar­bie con­vert­ibles,” McGrath writes.

Read­ing this, I felt like the months I spent be­ing a role model for lit­tle girls, dress­ing in pink tulle, wear­ing a crown and tak­ing part in all sorts of pub­lic events was for noth­ing — by the way, I used to own a bat­tery-pow­ered Bar­bie Jeep.

I felt like I was be­ing torn down by a woman with a per­sonal ven­detta against Princess Diana, who, by the way, is some­one I grew up idol­iz­ing be­cause my mom thought she was such a won­der­ful per­son. I still cry lis- ten­ing to “Can­dle in the Wind.”

McGrath called the Peo­ple’s Princess a “sui­ci­dal, bu­limic, piti­ful, ma­nip­u­la­tive neu­rotic.”

Re­gard­less of its in­tent to be hy­per­bole, it has been taken at face value by many read­ers.

But then I re­al­ized, lit­tle girls — and lit­tle boys — have a will and a right to like what­ever they choose, re­gard­less of the hurt­ful words in this ar­ti­cle.

I am not a par­ent, but I am an aunt. I have a nephew who owns a pur­ple Hello Kitty doll and a pink Care Bear. He picked them out him­self. He also plays with trains and trucks.

As a for­mer “princess,” I am proud to say I was a role model to those blonde haired, blue-eyed lit­tle girls, the brunettes with hazel eyes, the red heads with green eyes and many oth­ers in be­tween.

I ap­pre­ci­ate that ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery day, and know that I have made a lit­tle child’s face light up when they told their par­ents they met a real live princess.

I re­call hear­ing a child tell me when I wore pink how I was their favourite princess be­cause it was their favourite colour.

It’s not all fun, games and en­ti­tle­ment. In fact, I was scru­ti­nized more than most girls my age — I was 18 and liv­ing on cam­pus at Memo­rial Univer­sity. I was un­der a mi­cro­scope at dif­fer­ent events and had to en­sure I was on my best be­hav­iour at all times.

So what’s wrong with wear­ing pink? Noth­ing. What is the is­sue with be­ing blonde-haired and blue-eyed? Noth­ing. And what about ad­mir­ing a princess? I may be bi­ased, but I don’t see an is­sue with it.

To those young girls out there who think they need to fit into some kind of mould, have pride in your hair and eye colour and don’t be ashamed of lik­ing pink, blue, or, as my dad would say, sky-blue pink.

And as Lady Gaga, who is also blonde on oc­ca­sion, would say, you were born that way, so embrace it and don’t let oth­ers bring you down.

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