The Rhetoric of Fairy Princess-ing

By February 9, 2017Writing about Writing

As Thanksgiving season transitioned into Christmastime, the classy Walnut Room restaurant inside the Macy’s on State Street transformed into a magical winter wonderland, complete with all the Christmas music you could ever listen to, a magnificently decorated tree that towers over guests, and, of course, sparkling fairy princesses, equipped with wishing stones and fairy dust to grant all of your holiday wishes. Yes. You read that correctly. Now, this may sound like complete and utter nonsense, and let me be very clear: it totally is. Being paid to walk around in a fancy dress and shoes, ask people what they’re wishing for this year, sprinkle extra-fine glitter (in copious quantities) on the heads of dining customers, and to sometimes sing on command is a ridiculous, nonsensical, exhausting, and hilarious job. However, what no one but the select few young ladies chosen to perform the duties of a fairy princess in the Walnut Room knows is the vast amount of complicated rhetoric utilized in the position.

 

The Challenge

Perhaps the most important part of working as a fairy princess is the ability to convince your audience, often comprised of suspicious 5-8year olds, that you are, in fact, from the Christmas Tree Forest. Or that you definitely had wings at one time in your 175 years, but donated them to a lonely caterpillar who wanted desperately to become a butterfly. Or that the small, flat, glass marbles that you’re handing to them will magically shoot their Christmas wishes into the night sky for Santa Claus to see. In order to accomplish these magnificent deceptions, the use of various rhetorical strategies is absolutely necessary.

 

Alogism, Hyperbole, and Diatyposis

As a child enters pre-teen-hood, he or she will most likely raise an eyebrow at the alogisms, or illogical statements presented as fact, that you are spewing off at them. For example, a clever seven-year-old can, and definitely has, recognized that the idea of someone shrinking and growing to inhuman sizes by their sheer power of will is not a logical phenomenon. This is where diatyposis, or the vivid and clear description of a subject, and hyperbole, or impression by extravagant exaggeration, become a fairy princess’s best friends. When telling a child about your life as a fairy princess, being as vivid and clear as possible is key. Simply saying “I live in a forest with lots of animals,” may not be very convincing, but if you have “53 dogs, 18 horses, and 3 unicorns named Alice, Jasper, and Edgar that help me take care of all the trees in the magical Christmas Tree Forest, just West of the North Pole, and yes I AM friends with Santa Claus, did you know he puts candy canes in his pancakes?…” it becomes all too real for the little ones. Ironically, by being as outlandish and detailed as possible, no matter how ridiculous or wild your claims, most children are more inclined to take everything you say as canon.

 

Periergia

To a fairy princess, literally everything in the entire world is “lovely” and “magical” and, my personal favorite, “wonderful.” If a little boy tells you his tooth fell out, it’s the most exciting news you’ve heard all week. A 6-year-old girl wants a Barbie for Christmas? Groundbreaking. Basically, every time a fairy princess speaks, she uses the rhetorical strategy of periergia, which is the use of elevated style to discuss a trivial matter. The simple raising of your vocal pitch, gasping, clapping, jumping up and down, and using the aforementioned adjectives as often as possible, conveys to a child that you are interested in what they are saying. In fact, use of periergia takes this concept to a whole new level, and can make anything a child says, which—more often than not—is not that big of a deal in the global scheme of things, seem like the most incredible, newsworthy, fascinating piece of information that has ever graced your ears.

 

Farewell

Most jobs come with their own idiosyncrasies, and the esteemed position of Walnut Room Fairy Princess is no exception. However, you’d be surprised at how many strategic, logical, and rhetorical methodologies go into a day of granting magic wishes, most of which you probably use yourself on a daily basis. Rhetoric is everywhere, even in the makings of a successful meeting with a Fairy Princess.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Lauri Dietz says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Emily! Thanks for breaking down the rhetorical work of fairy princesses. Very insightful! I think your post should be required reading for all fairy princesses.