Isn't it funny how after hours spent poring over baby naming apps, arguing with your partner (you love Juniper, they prefer Jane), and making lists of favorites, most of us wind up using a nickname for our kid 90% of the time? Sprout. Pumpkin. Cupcake. But out of them all, none inspires more opinions than "Princess." While many people love it, others find it regressive, limiting, and anti-feminist. Fortunately, if you're one of those people, there are lots of
nicknames for your daughter that aren't princess.
The debate has been ongoing. While some, like
author Peggy Orenstein, suggest that princess culture leads to "self-objectification" in little girls that persists as they grow up, others suggest that princesses can have a positive effect. A recent study from Cinderella Ate My Daughter Brigham Young University found that preadolescent girls can actually be empowered by their love of princesses. Personally, I think that variety is the spice of life. Princesses are fun, but so are superheroes, veterinarians, spies, and Princess Superhero Veterinarian Spies. It's cool if a little girl wants to be a princess... as long as she knows that princess is just one of limitless choices.
What we are called becomes an intrinsic part of our identities. And certainly you can do worse than "Princess," which conveys being beloved, beautiful, and special. But there
are other fun, unique options out there. 1 Khaleesi
granted, since the series ended and Daenerys became, you know, a monster, this one might not hit the way it once did. But I, for one, just like to pretend the last season of Game of Thrones never happened so that makes khaleesi still OK!
It's a nice royal alternative, I think. It conveys all the good things about princess (special, honored), but none of the baggage (lacking power, largely decorative). A khaleesi doesn't sit around in a tower wearing a pretty dress waiting to be rescued. A khaleesi sits around in a tower in a pretty dress until she gets bored and whistles for her dragons.
I always feel like this is almost exclusively the domain of little boys, but why? What's so gender specific about the idea of being a friend? With all the completely toxic nonsense in the air about
girls being catty, the sooner a little girl can see herself (and other women and girls) as a good friend, the better. 3 Flower
Who doesn't like flowers? (Except for my weirdo husband, who is contrary about everything, but that's another story for another day.) They're lovely, they smell nice, and a lot of them are surprisingly sturdy. Also, like my little girl, they love water and dirt, so there's that, too.
Again, why is this the provenance of boys exclusively? I'm sorry, but do we not have the Williams sisters? Do we not have Aly Raisman? Abby Wambach? Have we forgotten about OGs like Billie Jean King or Flo-Jo? Girls can
absolutely be "sport." And maybe if you plant the seed early (perhaps casually, say, via a childhood nickname) that, yes, this is something you can be and we will encourage you in it, you'll see . more Alys and Serenas and Billie Jeans 5 Doctor
A friend of mine did this with her daughter, specifically because she did not want her child to be called "Princess." So, from the time she was an infant, she referred to her baby as "Doctor P" (her first initial), and not only has it stuck but it's absolutely adorable and I am
here for it. Traditional? No, but traditions have to start somewhere, and this is one I feel like we can really make happen if we all just believe in ourselves. 6 Champ
is a champ. Or she will be. At least she could be with this kind of lovely, encouraging nickname. Again, this is almost exclusively given to boys, but I see no reason we can't extend it to our girls. 7 Queen
My daughter has always described herself as a "little queen" and we lean into that
hard because, OMG, yas, li'l queen, yas! Like khaleesi, this gets in all the positive aspects of "princess" and empowers them. Queens rule! It's also a nickname that can grow with a person. Being a 30-year-old "princess"? I don't know, it's just a little bit weird, TBH. I feel like, in a best case scenario, you advance to queen at some point. Why not just start there? 8 Gem
They're valuable. They're sparkly. Some people believe they have mystical properties. It's a fun nickname. I fully support it.
9 Mon Chou Chou (pronounced "shoe") is the French word for "cabbage." But it's also the word for a delicious, cream-filled pastry (if you've watched The Great British Baking Show, you've likely heard mention of " choux pastry"). That's most likely the "chou" that was originally intended for this adorable pet name though, hey, why not call your kid a cabbage? And in many ways, my daughter is like a cream-filled pastry, too : she's sweet, light, and fun. Also "mon chou" is fun to say. 10 Birdie
Birds are cool. Birds can fly. Also, like my daughter, they eat about two times their own body weight every day. I think this is a cute nickname for any kid.
Not only is it a nickname that will make your daughter feel treasured and loved, it just oozes
Downton Abbey-levels of charm, doesn't it? I feel like you can't say it without at least thinking of a posh British accent. Like, the two of you can just go ahead and jauntily tilt your matching tiaras as you sip tea from matching china cups. 12 Precious
I mean, mainly so you can say it like Gollum from
Lord of the Rings. ("My precioussssssss.") More than 15 years on it still works, somehow. 13 Little Witch
WandaVision, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Harry Potter, and the renewed pop culture interest in Hocus Pocus, I feel like witches have been having A Moment for the past few years, and I'm absolutely pumped about this. Long reviled as evil-doers, more modern audiences have found feminist heroes in these powerful, intelligent, crafty women (and so what if some of them want to suck the lives out of all the children in Salem?Calm down, pearl-clutchers). 14 Bean
It's just funny, that's all. And this is a common one from pre-birth days that can continue once they make their entrance into the world. It's adorable and
happens to be gender neutral, so why not? 15 Lass
There's so much the Scottish get right, including, but certainly not limited to, perfect accents, kilts, Shetland ponies, the discordant but ultimately awesome sound of bagpipes, and the word "lass." It's no more than a word for "girl" (as "lad" is the word for "boy"), but it just feels so much more delightfully rich than that. I love it and absolutely believe we should use it for everything.