Nov. 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM ET
Against the Cinderella culture, a Catholic high school in Kentucky has a blunt message for young girls.
“Don’t wait for a prince,” reads another. “Be able to rescue yourself.”
“This message empowers them to move beyond that whole fairy tale idea and to write their own story in life,” said Mercy principal Amy Elstone.
The Louisville girls' school with 550 students launched the campaign last week, with ads on websites, billboards and bus shelters. Elstone knew it might raise eyebrows.
“We knew it was going to be risky going with this message,” Elstone told TODAY Moms. “Our girls are growing up in a society where they’re told by their parents that they’re a princess, and our message is that they’re not a princess, they’re so much more.”
The theme is also part of the school's enrollment video.
Elstone doesn’t want students to think they need to wait for their Prince Charming.
“That’s what TV tells them and movies and Disney tell them,” she said. “We teach our girls to prepare for real life.”
That could include a prince, she said, as long as a student is writing him into the picture, Elstone said.
The campaign, Elstone said, is true to the school’s mission of preparing girls for the 21st century.
“And we think this holds true to the Catholic tradition and our ultimate goal is to produce women of mercy,” she said.
So far, she has received only positive feedback.
“It’s been amazing,” Elstone said. “We’ve been hearing people talking about it in the community. It’s all over Facebook. It gets people talking. People are debating our message and applying it to their own life.”
Mercy students enjoyed the campaign when the school ran it by them last year, she said.
“They all loved it,” Elstone said. “They said it is exactly what a 13- and 14-year old girl needs to hear.”
A few girls, she said, teared up, she recalled, and said, ‘Yes, I’m writing my own story.”
On TODAY, Natalie Morales credited the school with spreading a “great message.”
“You watch the Hollywood romance movies and you see the happy ending and the guy always comes in and saves everybody and everybody lives happily ever after and that’s not life,” Morales said.