Princess or Pioneer Woman: Which One Are You?

A girlfriend of mine quipped that there are two types of women in the world:  princesses and pioneer women.  Princesses believe that they deserve a better life and expect others to serve them.  Pioneer women expect that any improvement in their lives will come through their own hard work; they are in charge of their own happiness.

So says Meg Meeker in her excellent book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, which explores the dad’s role in girls becoming strong and confident women–and how even the most doting father can raise a pioneer woman, and not a princess.  (I highly recommend the book, but I’m warning you:  if you have young girls, it can be scary to imagine what adolescence might look like one day for your daughters!)

Princesses are popular with the younger set these days.  A little girl pretending to be a princess can be sweet, but what if it’s a grown woman that still expects others to serve her?  That’s another story!

Princesses take.  Princesses want more.  Princesses demand.  They expect perfection and lack pragmatism.  They don’t act–except to tell others what they want.

But pioneer women know that life is the way it is, and they rely on themselves to move forward.

I would love to say that I’ve always been a pioneer woman.  But it wouldn’t be true.  I definitely have a checkered, princess-y past.  I wish I could adequately convey to you the shock I felt when I got married, and realized….(drumroll please)….that the world didn’t revolve around me. A pioneer woman wouldn’t have been so surprised.  Thankfully, I think the pioneer woman in me has taken back a lot of ground from my inner princess since then!

So, my question to you is…

Princess or pioneer woman?  Which one are you?

photo credits:  Bill Rawlinson, flickr user pmecologic


Leave A Comment
  1. Sara says:

    Can I be somewhere in between? Because I often wish the world revolved around me and I could be treated like a princess! Sigh, but it doesn’t, and I do, often, tell my children that if they’re bored or unhappy they should look for something to do for someone else. Waiting to be served, even if it’s your birthday, will only make you miserable, but serving someone else will actually make you feel better.

  2. sarah beals says:

    Def. a Pioneer Woman. We were always taught to work hard or not eat. 🙂 And we were always taught that the world revolves around others. When we had company over as kids, we were told to play what they wanted to play. They were our guests. When we went to another kids house, my mom told us to play what they wanted to play. We were their guests. I can remember asking, “Mom, when do we get to play what we want to play!?” I tell my kids that there are two kinds of people in the world–“here I am ” people and “there YOU are” people. The first waits for people to cater and fawn all over them. The later makes others feel important and looks to meet others needs.
    Love your new look. Great article. 🙂

  3. Lucky says:

    I’m a pioneer woman with a bit of princess that comes out every once in a while.

    I think I’ll skip that book. I’m hoping my baby girl will be a chubby and happy 8 month old forever! I don’t even want to think about her being a teenager!

  4. Lori says:

    Great post!!! I definitely was a princess when I got married and my marriage was horrible. Once I learned to serve and please my husband (became a pioneer woman), my marriage has been wonderful!!! I highly recommend it. Life is much better serving than being served.

  5. FishMama says:

    Love this question. As we started out with four boys and the rough and tumble life, to end the train with two girls, it can be tempting to over-princess them. Thanks for the gentle reminder to keep our feet on the ground.

  6. Hannah says:

    I love the comparison! My daughter loves princesses…but she also loves Laura Ingalls, which I consider a much better role model. It’s strange to think of someone from the 1800s as being a realistic role model for a young girl, but I love the fact that work was seen as normal even for the little girls.

    Enjoying and expecting work is a lost but handy art for girls today to learn. (I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate a bit of sparkle here and there, but to expect it seems to cross a line that isn’t healthy.)

  7. Ashley says:

    Several years ago I asked my husband to stop calling me “princess.” I don’t want to be that kind of woman–the high-maintenance, demanding one who thinks she deserves it all!

  8. Laura Ziesel says:

    Oh, what a good conversation!

    I actually HATE being called a princess. I find that it is usually said to grown women only pejoratively. When referring to the fact that I’m part of God’ royal family, I usually think of Queen Susan and Queen Lucy, which I prefer. They were royalty, but their contribution was valued. Oh, Narnia… I wanna ride a horse and right bad guys.

    That being said, I also don’t really like the description of the pioneer woman. It seems leaning toward self-sufficient/legalistic to me, and I try to steer clear of that as well. My blessings don’t come through hard work (karma), but only through God’s grace. And moreover, I never want to lose the emphasis that we’re called to a radical sort of community, a family of people who we should be sharing life with. I think the pioneers had that to a degree, but it seemed to be more of a “survival of the fittest and keep moving” community, not a “blessed are the poor/meek” community.

    • Anne says:

      Oooo, Laura, good comment! (And yay for Queen Lucy and Queen Susan! Especially Lucy. It’s been too long since I’ve read those books!)

      I admire your analysis of the pioneer woman. For this recovering princess, though, the buck-up-and-take-on-the-task attitude of the PW is a good antidote to any tendencies towards the spoiled brat side of myself. Maybe the pendulum has swung too far in one direction, and it tends to over-correct when it swings back the other way?

      That being said, I definitely don’t want to be in any kind of relationship or community where “survival of the fittest” is the modus operandi.

  9. When I was small I was rather into princesses, especially when playing dress-up. But that phase didn’t last long. I much preferred pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, or a mommy, or a teacher, or a librarian, or a writer (I think most, if not all, of those vocations are going to be part of my life at some point!). One of my grandmas always refers to me as her princess, as the first-born of all my cousins and a girl. But my parents have always done their best to teach me that to serve is better than be served.

    My sinful nature would definitely prefer to be treated like a princess. It’s hard, sometimes, to get off the couch and computer and go clean the kitchen or bathroom, make supper, or do laundry, when all I want is for my husband to help and let me sit and relax. But he works as hard as I do, and it’s my gift and responsibilty as a wife and homemaker to take care of HIM and of our home.

    I desire to always have the “pioneer woman” mindset. By God’s grace alone, that’s how I can live. 🙂

    And Laura, I very much like your example of Queen Susan and Queen Lucy! Those are royal figures that I can certainly emulate. 🙂

  10. I would say I have always been a pioneer woman. As a little girl I emulated Laura Ingalls and everything about her. But I have to agree with Jaimie above Queen Lucy and Queen Susan were and still are two of my favorite royal role models.

  11. Kimberly says:

    What a great discussion!
    I am a self-righteous pioneer woman… who struggles with realizing that God allows all of my circumstances … even the ones I have worked hard at! Help!

  12. This is an excellent question. A good friend of mine was a houseguest this past weekend, and we debated the topic over dinner. It was quite a discussion! (We both agreed the other is a Pioneer, but we spent quite a bit of time discussing what the roles mean and how they have changed over time.)

  13. Robin says:

    Can I be a Pioneer Princess…..Please? Perhaps someone like Queen Elizabeth II, in her coveralls, in a picture I once saw. She was the right kind of princess and for the most part has made the right kind of Queen. I do think we need to reclaim princess qualities of graciousness, kindness, and self-control. Why does being a princess have to be a bad thing? A man who is prince among men would be a catch.

    • Anne says:

      Interesting point about the gender disparity. I’m laughing as I realize that many ladies would consider “a prince among men” a great thing, but no man would ever self-identify as a prince. Ever!

  14. I am a pioneer at heart, all the way. So is my mom. But one thing about a princess (at least the real ones) is that while the pioneer has to spend most of her time focused on making things happen in her own life (or they go hungry), a princess has the freedom to concern herself with the well-being of others.

  15. Kimberly S. says:

    Oh My…Being surrounded by 4 boys and a husband I love to be a Princess. However, in truth having a farm, animals, 4 boys and cooking in cast iron would make me a Pioneer Woman!!!

    I love it and wouldn’t change a thing…ever!!

  16. I grew up as a child of divorce without a supportive Dad. I loved fairy tales – especially the goose girl because she was forced out of her princess position. I felt like that with God, too – that I was an unwanted, unspecial child.

    So I worked hard – and became the pioneer woman who could take care of myself – kind of like the goose girl.

    Until one day, God revealed himself to me and I understood who I was in His Kingdom – His daughter – a princess, someone valued, provided for, protected – but who also has great responsibility to all the children in the kingdom:)

    I don’t have daughters – so my view hasn’t been affected by the princess party culture:)

    What a wonderful topic for a coffee gathering among my friends!

  17. emily says:

    I was a pioneer when I was single, then a princess when I first got married, and after giving birth to our son have gone back to pioneer.

    Big Time.

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