Parents

Mother-daughter 'I don't want to be a princess' project inspires girls to dream bigger

Most kids dream of taking a trip to Disney World, and Keira Thompson used to be one of them.

That was until she got to the Magic Kingdom, where the characters kept referring to her as "princess."

"Mommy, this is so annoying," Keira, who was 4 at the time, said, according to her mom. "I don't want to be a princess. I want to be a pilot."

Courtesy of Beckie Thompson
Beckie and Keira Thompson, the two founders of "I Don't Want to be a Princess."

That’s when the idea for "I Don't Want to be a Princess" was born.

Now, five years later, the project shares stories about inspiring women and sells T-shirts meant to empower girls and women to chase their dreams.

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"A princess isn't a career to which one can aspire to be," Beckie Thompson, 40, who quit her marketing job to focus on the organization in January, told TODAY. "It's just an adjective we throw at girls."

"Just think of what we could accomplish if we started calling girls words other than 'princess,'" she said.

Courtesy of Beckie Thompson
A girl showing off I Don't Want to be a Princess' "Creative" T-shirt.
Courtesy of Beckie Thompson
A woman modeling I Don't Want to be a Princess' "Boss" T-shirt.

Her website, which officially launched on April 12 and was first featured by The Huffington Post, throws different adjectives at them, like "brilliant," "confident," "creative" and "fierce."

Beckie, who lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin, has populated the site with the stories of women in history she found inspiring, such as Helen Keller, Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart.

They've also received over 20 entries in the past two weeks from people nominating modern-day trailblazers to feature.

Among them are Annie Bartosz, who founded an organization to fight childhood cancer, and Gianna Ferreri, a girl who is the only female on her youth football team.

Keira, 9, has acted as a mini executive, studying the sales and ways to grow the organization.

Beckie told TODAY she inherited her passion from her grandmother, Beverly Klein, who she said rose up in the newspaper industry at a time when most women didn’t work.

Courtesy of Beckie Thompson
Keira Thompson in a plane with her uncle at 5.

Meanwhile, Keira still has her sights set on becoming a pilot.

The third-grader has been interested in flying since she took her first flight as a toddler.

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Her desire only grew stronger after she got to experience flying from the cockpit.

For her 5th birthday, her uncle, Theo Martins, a pilot, surprised her by taking her up in his plane.

He even taught her how to check fuel and gave her a tour of the airport hangar.

Once the site become profitable, Thompson said they plan to donate a portion of T-shirt sales to an organization that benefits girls.

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