The Princess Duvet Cover That Taught Us A Lesson In Knee-Jerk Reactions

Consumer GoodsDesignEntrepreneurshipGirls 8 Comments

One of our editors saw this meme on a random Facebook page last week, and after passing it around the office, the immediate, collective reaction was “WORST. Sheets. Ever.” This was bad princess culture at its finest. “What archaic-minded marketer was behind this?” We needed to know, but the meme gave no attribution to the image, so we went on a hunt for the back story. What we got was a valuable lesson in knee-jerk reactions.

Google images was all it took to solve this mystery. The original image belongs to SNURK, a small, independent bedding label based in Amsterdam owned by designers Peggy van Neer and Erik van Loo (the couple did not create the meme). Their princess “sheets” are actually a duvet cover/pillow case set and their product description is as cringe-worthy as the duvet itself:

Finally a duvet cover that shows the world what you truly are: a beautiful princess. Go ahead and doze off, dream of your prince charming on a white horse. But first make sure you are lying perfect underneath your diamond tiara. What a sleeping beauty!

SNURK Princess duvet

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” It was worse than we thought. Our knee-jerk reaction was to snub SNURK for peddling this princess BS. Can you blame us? But that’s when a firefighter, an astronaut, and a Flamenco dancer rescued us from our Nightmare On Princess Elm Street.

The unlikely trio lured our eyes away from the damsel in distressed percale cotton, allowing us to take the time (approximately 8.9 seconds) to look beyond SNURK’s princess duvet to their other products. We were so quickly taken with what else we found, our loathing turned to love.


Sure, while we may not be fans of their princess drivel, we are BIG fans of the fact that SNURK is doing exactly what is missing in so many product categories for kids… options. How fun for a girl or boy to head off to bed dreaming of being something different each week (or every other, depending on how often you change the bedding).

One could argue that if you are going to go off exploring space, or fighting fires, or dancing one of the most athletic dance forms on the planet, in your dreams or in real life, you deserve to sleep well and deeply like a royal. Agreed… just not in pink taffeta, a corset, and a tiara, while waiting to be rescued by some dude on a horse.

Speaking of sleeping beauties and distorted images of princesses, in Disney’s well-known version, the sleeping Princess Aurora is woken by a kiss from the Prince (she’s comatose and passive, awaiting the prince’s kiss – a sign of his power over her). BUT… our fave go-to fairy tale scholars tell us that in Charles Perrault’s original version of Sleeping Beauty, the princess wakes up on her own when the curse ends simply because the prince has entered the room. As he falls to his knees at the sight of her, she sits up and irreverently says, “Are you my prince? You certainly took your time.” Now that’s our kind of princess… thanks for ruining her Disney.

But back to SNURK’s sleeping beauty duvet for one final observation… we are thoroughly creeped out that it comes in a double bed size, which leaves a blank spot for someone to sleep on the princess’ left side… truly disturbing, but on very different levels, whether the “princess” is a child or an adult!


On to the positive. Here’s the cool part about the photo prints SNURK uses on their other duvets and pillows… they are uber realistic and most of the time real. Take their astronaut… it’s a photo print of an actual space suit shot at the Space Expo Museum in Holland. Their Flamenco dress is a photo print of an authentic, vintage Flamenco dress from Andalusia, Spain, the birthplace of the mesmerizing art form (in 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity). Their firefighter suit looks equally as real… we’ll have Brenda Berkman verify its authenticity. Again, any one of these duvets can be fun and imagination inducing for girls or boys.

While SNURK chose to go the typical route in their marketing of the non-trad jobs bedding – using boy models in the astronaut and firefighter duvets – they are gender neutral products, good for girls and boys alike, which the brand’s copy reflects (whether intentionally or unintentionally).

Aside from the obvious and more forward way to drive this message home (also using – GASP – a girl model in those product shots), they should consider doing a bailaor (male flamenco dancer) costume duvet to round out the offerings, since boys like to dance too… right Maksim Chmerkovskiy! As for a prince duvet? No thanks… unless it’s the “artist formerly known as”, and the image on the duvet is a rock star clad in purple velvet with a guitar.


The point of all of this is to say that had we maintained anti-princess culture tunnel vision and stuck with our initial knee-jerk reaction to the “Best. Sheets. Ever.” meme, we never would have known what SNURK is all about (i.e. the full collection, the brand’s altruism, that SNURK means “to snore” in Dutch, etc.). Do we like their princess duvet? No. But that one insignificant product does not and should not make or break a brand that is otherwise doing some really cool stuff.

It’s like the WYSK reader who recently declared “YUCK!”, after seeing just a thumbnail image/headline of the BOOB ring we reported on in October. We’d love to pass that sentiment on to the woman the BOOB ring was designed for (breast cancer claimed her life) and the women fighting breast cancer now that its sales go to support.

In a world filled with viral images that are intended to NOT tell the full picture, clickbait headlines that are crafted to get attention, not give facts, and our increasingly short attention spans, we caution… don’t judge until you know what you’re looking at and reading. Knee-jerk reactions never do anyone any good.

We are very happy we took the time to get to know SNURK.

  • gargouille

    Ooohhhh, there are so many beautiful patterns. The human costume sheets are not even the most interesting. This is pretty refreshing…girls can dream of becoming anything by inhabiting their suits while they sleep. Now, if the ad showed a boy sleeping in the flamenco sheets as it shows a girl under the firefighter suit, I’d be a total convert to their gender-bending fantasy.

  • Amy Luna Manderino

    How is this gender forward thinking again? The boys in the pics are doing traditional action oriented stuff and the girls are doing “pretty” stuff. I am a professional ethnic dancer and have performed Flamenco and, yes, it is one of the most challenging dance forms on the planet…so why aren’t there sheets for a MALE flamenco dancer? And why isn’t there a girl sleeping in the astronaut bed? Princess and dancer for girls and firefighter and astronaut for boys. Seems pretty much the same old same old to me. 🙁

    • Lizz_Ard

      Wondering if you read the same piece I did? It breaks down all the gender backward things going on in this company’s marketing (only boy models being used with the astronaut and firefighter sheets), and made suggestions of the very gender forward concepts you mention (shooting these sheets using girl models as well; adding a male flamenco dancer costume). Just because the company doesn’t visually market them as gender neutral, does not mean they’re not. Consumers like us, can make them whatever we want them to be, which is awesome. In fact, I saw on the company’s Facebook page that a gay couple (men) sewed two of the princess sheets together for themselves (LOVE that)! I actually found their Flamenco dancer sheets to be super badass (not at all “girly” or “pretty” in the princess-ey way). Agree with you and the author that they should do the male dancer counterpart.

      • Amy Luna Manderino

        My point was that saying something “could” be gender forward “if” it’s tweaked doesn’t change the fact that right now, it’s not gender forward. I think it’s fine to have “knee jerk” reactions to stuff that is “knee jerk” itself. And these products are not “gender neutral.” The firefighter and astronaut are, but the dancer and princess clearly aren’t. What would really make this company gender forward is if they came up with a sheet that was a gender neutral creative/artistic archetype that could be used for boys AND girls. That’s the entire problem right there. Right now, girls have way more cultural permission to cross the gender binary than boys do. That needs to change. I’d rather see an article on THAT company. THAT would be something, for real.

        • Lizz_Ard

          I understand your point, but I also think that as long as there are solid gender neutral options, which they do offer now, you don’t have to have a tally sheet marked “For Boys” and “For Girls” that get equal amounts of checks on both sides.

          • Amy Luna Manderino

            I couldn’t disagree more. Offering options for girls and not for boys is…well…sexism. It’s forcing boys into a particular role. Liberating half the world isn’t liberating. We are all in this together. <3

  • Tana Siemaszko

    Are you sure the kid in the firefighter is a boy? That face read female to me. I seriously thought the firefighter was a girl. Either way the kid is young enough that a girl looking at it could see herself, just as a boy could see himself. I immediately thought “way to go non traditional, a female firefighter.”

    • Yes… it is a boy. We got that confirmation straight from the brand owner/designer herself.