But waking up this morning, after jetting from Massachusetts to Baltimore so we could participate in the first Orioles post-season game in forever, only to sit through hours of rain delay, eight nail-biting innings, 40-degree weather and then a depressing last inning collapse by my Birds, there’s something bugging me more than even another Evil Empire victory.
It happened in one of the concession stands. Husband and I had gone there to get a T-shirt for Baby M. You know, consumer relief for the guilt of carting the 18-month-old down the east coast once again for our recreational whims.
We were thinking a little Matt Wieters or Adam Jones jersey. Instead, we found a different option for little girls: a pink, “Orioles Princess” onesie. And a smattering of other pink gear in the otherwise orange and black environment.
What? I exclaimed. There’s no princess in baseball!
But of course, there is.
We have written before about the tremendous power of princess culture in the lives of young girls. Our cover story about “Little girls or little women? The Disney Princess effect” explored how the prominence of a particular style of princess connects to sexualization and other challenges to American girlhood. Our guest blogger Rebecca Hains is a professor and expert in just this topic and has written about everything from Disney Princess prom gowns to the racial implications of the princess sorority.
But while the Disney Princesses – that pastel clique of Belle, Cinderella et al – may usually take the lead in princess culture, the phenomenon spills well beyond them. As was clear last night at Camden Yards.
For most people, I recognize, this is just not a problem. The baseball princess shirt is cute, as is the pink soccer ball or the pastel football jersey. And sure, in the grand scheme of world problems – such as more Yankees victories – the color or style of little girls' sports clothing seems pretty innocuous. Some people even praise this sort of gendered fandom. They say that if it takes a pink soccer ball to interest a girl in athletics, or to let her feel like the sport is hers, then all the better.
But it seems lame, I must say, that something as connecting as cheering for a hometown baseball game has to become gendered. Instead of bringing girls and boys together, it teaches little girls that while some kids might dream of swinging a bat or throwing a ball, what’s cute for them is to become a baseball princess.
But who does… what, exactly?
The poofy gown totally gets in the way of running in the outfield. The crown is way inferior to a batting helmet. And have you ever seen a princess break in a glove? Nope.
No, there are no princesses in baseball.
So we got Baby M a traditional orange Orioles shirt. Because that, we hope to teach, can be her color. Not just pink.