Disney Princesses impact on young girls

The use of media has advanced greatly over the last decade. The availability of information via movies, cartoons and TV shows has become so much easier than it was before. Children learn to use technology as soon as they can grasp objects in their hands. Animated movies are one of the first visuals a child sees and fairytales and Disney movies are a big part of the animated franchise. Thus the representation of women, mainly as a beautiful goddess or in this case a Princess is instilled at a very young age.

Hey, I’m no hater. I enjoy my share of the Disney world but it’s no shocker that the beauty standards created by them have a huge impact on children. Princesses are most popularly known for their beauty, grace, elegance and how they outshine those that are not as beautiful as them. These unrealistic beauty standards are predominantly oversexualized and woven into the minds of young girls.

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Cinderella, one of the most famous animated films shows us the story of a young girl and the cruel way she is treated by her stepmother and stepsisters. The image of Cinderella is of a girl with rags for clothes and a dungeon for a room. Not only that, but she requires the help of a Fairy Godmother, who magically creates a fancy gown and carriage for Cinderella for the ball. Moreover, Cinderella has to compete with her stepsisters and other young girls for the Prince’s attention. All this hard work just so that Prince notices her. Sounds quite silly, isn’t it?

Let’s talk about Snow White. I’m sure you all have heard the story. Snow White’s name is the result of her skin as white as snow, hair as dark as ebony and lips as red as a rose. Her appearance makes her one of the fairest maidens of all. The Queen, jealous by Snow White’s beauty orders for her to be killed and lastly poisons her with an apple. The message that this story sends is very clear. Just because person A is prettier than me, I must hate them. Not the ideal lessons we want our children to learn.

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Beauty and the Beast is another such story. Just tell me why do the town people find her peculiar? Because she loves to read and has her nose buried in a book all day! I don’t find that odd to be honest. Furthermore, her rejection of Gaston’s aggressive desire to marry her results in more societal rejection. Instead of being applauded for standing up to an entitled prick, she is further shunned for being different.

Last but not the least, Tangled, a movie that was released in 2010 shows us the same representation. Mother Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel, solely for her hair. Rapunzel’s magical hair makes the person beautiful and immortal. Without the magical hair, Mother Gothel is a proper, not so pretty witch. This instills a pattern of aggression based solely on beauty as something to seek and fight over.

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I understand that over time, Disney has released movies that represent women in strong roles that focus more on other qualities than their beauty. Frozen, shows a very strong bond between sisters who themselves are empowering and Brave gives an entirely different meaning to the role of a Princess and to be Queen. It’s impressive with the narratives being changed overtime to showcase strong, feminist characters as Princesses. We want our children to know that beauty isn’t everything. Kudos to Emma Watson for refusing to wear a corset in the live-action of the Beauty and the Beast movie!

These aforementioned points are the ones that need to be highlighted not give power to the archaic beauty standards that are set in stone. Women are so much more than attractive arm candy. We must teach our children especially our young girls that being a princess is about being strong, humble, courageous, kind, brave, loyal, and standing up for what is right.

If you feel I’ve missed out on anything, feel free to share!

All the love R

5 thoughts on “Disney Princesses impact on young girls

  1. Regarding Cinderella, she actually doesn’t compete for her sisters’ attention for the Prince in the animated Disney film. When the telegram is received, she’s excited to go to the ball as it’s an opportunity to go out. She never dreams about marrying a prince. And when she arrives at the ball, she arrives late and spends much of the time exploring the castle. It’s actually the Prince who sees her from a distance and approaches her asking her to dance. So I think it’s erroneous to say Cinderella was competing for her sisters’ attention for the Prince when, in fact, she wasn’t thinking of him at all.

    I think you misunderstood the message of Snow White. It’s clear in the movie that the Queen is the villain and her ways are not the lessons that we take from this. In fact, it teaches us that hating or even killing someone who’s prettier than you is the wrong thing to do as it only led to the Queen’s destruction in the end.

    In the animated Beauty and the Beast, there is no societal shunning of her after rejecting Gaston’s proposal. After she rejects his proposal, he leaves, she sings the ‘Belle’ reprise about her desire, and then her father’s horse finds her and takes her to the castle. So there’s no mention of society shunning her for her decision. And again, her characteristics of reading or being different from people are commended in the film as she shares her love of books and characteristics with the Beast despite what the townsfolk say.

    And in Tangled, Mother Gothel is shown to be the villain. The lesson given is that doing all these evil things for beauty or the preservation of beauty is wrong as it only led to Mother Gothel’s downfall at the end of the film. Rapunzel isn’t to blame at all for her beauty nor does she even acknowledge it as a weapon or anything, besides the magical healing powers it possesses due to the magic plant.

    I just think it’s wrong to stereotype all the older princesses as promoting examples of beauty and seeking beauty when literally in each film, that’s not the lesson that’s taught at the end. Just my two cents, I’m sorry if I seemed disrespectful. I tried my best to leave my opinion with respect.

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    1. Hi, thank you for your comment.
      I appreciate you sharing your perspective. My main aim wasn’t to bad mouth any of the princesses or the stories as such but the fact that all of the negativity or the villainy is stemmed from beauty standards. It wasn’t based on whether the Queen in Snow White is the villain or not. It was mainly based on the concept of fairness and the need to be prettier than everyone. I agree that it wasn’t Snow white’s fault that she was the fairest maiden of all or Rapunzel’s for having magical hair. But the crazed need to acquire that beauty is what I was trying to portray.
      It’s noteworthy that all the princesses are shown to be pretty with beautiful features and most of the antagonist is shown to have more scary features and most plots revolve around the villains’ compulsion to be the appealing character.
      Beauty standards are and will always be a very important part of the movie franchise whether we like it or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. Thank you for reading.

        I just feel that it’s still the villains who are doing the “hating of prettiness” in these films, so it comes off clear that it’s a villainous and evil idea to have and one that leads to ruin. I just feel that the movies make it clear that “hating of prettiness” is the wrong thing to do.

        Also all these stories are based on the fairy tales of the 1500s and 1600s, so there’s only so much they can alter from the original stories before they’re no longer the same fairy tale.

        The villains are always incredibly older than the youthful princesses, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t look like the princesses. And I think it can be argued that not all of the villains are even only scary. I feel the Queen isn’t portrayed as ugly in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs before her transformation.

        I just feel the films and their lessons have nothing to do with beauty standards, but all to do with good and evil. All of the princesses, even the original ones, do things other than just be beautiful and I feel the films showcase that well.

        That’s just my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are right! To be honest, if you go to see the original versions, they are even ghastlier than what we’ve grown up with. For eg, in Cinderella, the stepsisters cut off chunks of their feet to fit into the glass slipper. It’s just so sinister.

        Liked by 1 person

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