in the age yesterday there was an article on the little girls dressed as princesses and fairies. the article goes into the idea that by letting little girls constantly be the princess or fairy it may be the beginnings of the child having a very narrow minded idea of femininity and that they must be beautiful to be worth anything. the article makes the statement that "Isn't it at least plausible that the scantly clad teenage girl who bases her self-worth on seeking the sexual approval of men started out as a toddler princess being told how pretty she is?"
the woman who wrote the article (monica dux) strongly recommends that parents of little girls obsessed with the whole princess thing should pack away the princess outfits and only allow them for occasional play.
in every group of preschool kids i've worked with we always have a group of princess/fairy obsessed children. none of my co-workers are huge fans of it. we do allow some fairy/princess play but we encourage play in other areas (especially if they just put on some lacy fabric, say they're a princess and then just sit around doing nothing).
on a kind of related note: today at work my co-worker told all the children they had to play somewhere that they hadn't played for a long time. the same 4 girls that ALWAYS play in the home corner dived into that area only to be told they had to leave. they were pretty lost for a while but a couple did some really nice paintings, they played with a couple different friends and tried some new things. one boy who spends every moment he can playing with lego was told he couldn't play there. a while later we looked over to find he was very settled in the fairy area (yes, we do have a fairy area for the next couple weeks to cater to that love of fairies that some of the kids have) playing with a new friend (i think they had the unicorns attacking the fairies and elves-- it was pretty funny to watch). its nice for all the kids to be told they have to try something different because a lot of them seem to get stuck into some sort of obsession in their play (and by removing certain children from areas they always play in, it gives other ones who may not play there when the other group is there a chance to play).