REDEFINING THE PRINCESS: The Newest Asian Heroines
Los Angeles/Riverside, CA Educators, concerned parents, professionals and artists have formed a new organization, the Guardian Princess Alliance (GPA), to positively transform the cultural meaning of the princess.
They have created a new book series about princess heroines that differ from the traditional focus on external beauty or prince charming. The series features seven princesses, including two Asian princesses: an East Asian Princess, Princess Ten Ten, Guardian of the Skies, and a South Asian/Desi Princess, Princess Saya, Guardian of the Rivers and Lakes.
The founder of the group is Setsu Shigematsu, an Associate Professor of the Media and Cultural Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. She is a scholar of feminism, social movements, and a mother of two children. Professor Shigematsu was concerned with how the multi-billion dollar princess industry influences children, especially because she has a young daughter. By age three, her half-Japanese, half-Filipino daughter was enchanted by multiple Disney characters, yet Mulan held little appeal. Her daughter was instead attracted to the white princesses. Recognizing the power and influence of the princess in todays culture, rather than banning it altogether, Professor Shigematsu wrote a story about a princess that she wanted her daughter and other children to emulate. This became the first story of the Guardian Princess Book Series.
The Guardian Princesses stories are socially conscious and educational books that emphasize the development of childrens talents, knowledge about the world, and collective action to help others. The princesses work together to stand up against villains who try to take away their land, pollute water, and monopolize other natural resources for personal profit. These racially and culturally diverse princesses model cross-racial harmony and emphasize the interdependency between humans and nature.