Much More than a Princess

Mercy Academy ad being used in a discussion of the ad itself

More than a princess

An all-girls Catholic school has launched a new ad campaign, taking aim at “Princess Culture.” The ad campaign’s new, but the underlying message is deeply embedded in the school’s tradition.

Now, we Jesuits run a lot of schools, but we’re not the experts on educating young women. For that, you’d turn to the Mercy Sisters. The first Jesuit high school in the U.S. to go co-ed didn’t do so until 1974 (Go Lions!), but the Mercy Sisters, founded for the express purpose of providing shelter, food, and education to women and girls, have been educating girls for centuries. In fact, one of the reasons Jesuit schools have been slow to go co-ed is that there are so many good all-girls Catholic schools.  The Mercy Sisters are like the Jesuits of girls education. (I’d say the Jesuits are the Mercys of boys education, except to be honest the Jesuits were at it earlier.) And they’re still doing it, exemplarily — proving that Catholic education isn’t just a pious finishing school for future wives.

Mercy Academy, in Louisville, Kentucky, has just introduced a fascinating new ad campaign. The theme? “You’re not a princess. Life’s not a fairytale. Prepare for real life.” Here’s what Mercy Academy is saying about the thinking behind the new campaign:

In high school, most students have the same question… “When am I going to use this?” At Mercy, we answer that question.  Our curriculum is designed around applying knowledge to real-life problems, so our students learn how to think critically while being innovative.  These skills along with the basics in the core content areas, like math, English and science, will prepare you to excel in college and be successful in the real world to follow.

Take a look at the ads in this article at AdWeek and see what you think. I think it’s an interesting and positive twist, to go against “princess culture” and focus on the future leaders they want their students to be. But the principal “twist” here is the fact that they’ve called out the modern manifestation of “princess culture” — because, as some of the commenters on the article pointed out, Catholic girls education and the religious women who have shaped it has been providing an example of women taking leadership and responsibility for a long time now.

And Mercy Academy isn’t the only place trying to change the way girls grow up envisioning their futures. Goldie Blox, a toy company that makes building games to inspire girls to be future engineers, just released this fantastic ad:

Goldie Blox says there are millions of girls out there who are engineers. Mercy Academy says there are lots of girls out there ready to lead the world. They both want to do their part to help girls realize their potential. And how much better would the world be full of girls with the smarts, education, and assertiveness to take on the role of creating a better world?

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