Disney’s gender roles and female body ideals are the elephant in the room that most people ignore. For decades, Disney movies have been very popular amongst young girls who are looking for role models to guide them, and to look up to. However, these movies help girls reinforce the female ideal that society has created, teaching them how a “real” girl dresses and acts. What are the psychological effects Disney movies have on young girls’ ideal of body image and female gender roles? The Princesses in Disney movies are portrayed as young, voluptuous, and beautiful while the female villains are usually older, heavyset or emaciated , and considered “ugly” or undesirable. These perceptions can give young girls an inaccurate view of what beauty should look like and what they should strive to be. This causes negative effects on how young girls view themselves and can lead to eating disorders later in life. Not only do the Disney movies portray body image inaccurately but they also reinforce gender stereotyping. Throughout each movie the princesses are “damsels in distress,” naïve, and cook and clean while wearing very
In society today, there is pressure from all sides to conform to a certain ideal of beauty. People are overwhelmed with the different types of images and media forms that are telling people how to act and what to look like. Media is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. It has the power to educate, affect social change, and much more, but if taken incorrectly people will take drastic lengths to change something about themselves. There have been many attempts to empower women through different types of media, but many have failed miserably. Over the last couple of years, Disney has struggled greatly with the representation of women throughout Princess movies because young girls are hounded with images of princesses,
A little girl sits on the floor with her gaze fixed on the television screen in front of her, watching magical images dance before her eyes and catchy songs flow through her ears. Even though she had seen it at least twenty times before, she still loved The Little Mermaid just as much as she did the first time she watched it. As she watched it, she longed to be a beautiful mermaid with a curvy body and wonderful singing voice like Ariel. She longed to be saved by the handsome Prince Eric, and fall in love and live happily ever-after like Ariel did. In today’s society, women strive to achieve equality between the sexes. Despite the tremendous steps that have been taken towards reaching gender equality, mainstream media contradicts these accomplishments with stereotypes of women present in Walt Disney movies. These unrealistic stereotypes may be detrimental to children because they grow up with a distorted view of how men and women interact. Disney animated films assign gender roles to characters, and young children should not be exposed to inequality between genders because its effect on their view of what is right and wrong in society is harmful to their future.
In the article Construction of the Female Self: Feminist Readings Of the Disney Heroine, Jill Birmie Henke, Diane Zimmerman Umble, and Nancy J. Smith are looking at the female self and how it was developed based on two theories: Standpoint by Parker Follet and the psychological development of girls by Gilligam. That by examines gender identity especially girls and how media exposure affects them through analyzing five of Disney movies: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas. They segmented the article into three titles: The Oxymoron of Power and the Perfect Girl where they introduced the two theories in which they built their critic on, Construction of the Female Self where they talk about the evolution in the female character from Cinderella to Pocahontas, and Construction of Self in Relation to Others where they talk about the evolution of the self in relation to others from power-over to power-with until power-to. Finally they concluded that even if the female character in Disney’s movies was changing to become more
Women have been in movies since they first started playing on the big screen, they have played an assortment of roles, the damsel in distress, the first one to die, the poor scullery maid who ends up a princess, the evil witch, etc. While some of the roles have shed bad light on women, for example being a femme fatale, other movies have set positive examples for the future generations. As time has changed, the Disney princesses have evolved with it, each princess becoming more outspoken and independent, influencing the young women of today to want to grow up to be just like them, “They enact a shift from the "princesses" of ballet to the "heroes" of sport. Heroism, egalitarianism and autonomy are slipped into the conventions of Disney princesshood” (Do Rozario, R.,C., 2004, para. 34). In Mulan the movie, Mulan saves her father by disobeying him, and taking his place in the war by doing that she ended up saving her whole country. Disney isn’t telling young women to disobey their parents; they’re showing them that while you may be a girl, you can be brave and succeed.
Over the years, Disney has presented many movies to their audience—most having a Princess as the protagonist. These movies became a babysitter for most parents in the early stages of their child’s life. Most people found these movies as relatively harmless. The obvious assumption about the Disney Princesses is that they only desire true love since almost every movie ends in romance. Parents just viewed these movies as romantic movies on a child’s level. However, these movies were not solely intended for an audience of an age that can be counted on both hands. They were intended to speak to “an intelligent and active audience” (Sumera 40). However, there are many people who disagree with the ways of the Disney Princess movies. The disagreements lie within the portrayal of women gender roles in these movies. It is argued that Disney portrays women as a being nurturing individuals without any control over their identity. The women are unable to think for themselves, because they are uneducated, and they are quick to fall in love with the first man that pays them any attention. However, this is not completely true. The people that are against the portrayal of women in the Disney movies are failing to recognize the underlying concepts in these movies. For example, Belle, in Beauty and the Beast, was well educated, Mulan went to war despite the consequences, and Merida, in Brave, stood up to her mother in refusal to marry. The Disney Princesses desired intelligence, bravery, strength, and independence—not true love’s kiss.
The Walt Disney Company is a pillar of American culture, and has had an immense impact on society as a whole, for decades. The films created are filled with beautiful messages, catchy songs, and colorful characters. When discussing Disney films, critiques, and viewers in general, tend to focus the conversation around the portrayal of women and the influence it has on young women. There has been an unavoidable debate concerning the ideologies promoted by the Disney films, and in particular its princesses, since Snow White came out in 1937. The princesses were in fact often represented as passive characters with tiny waists, who are constantly in need of rescuing. These concepts in creating female characters contribute to societal standards of
Disney promotes sexisim by forcing young girls to live in a patriarchal world. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The little mermaid, Aladdin, and Snow White are all examples of popular Disney movies that encourage young viewers that they need a man to save the day. Yes, it’s true that there are recent movies such as Moana and Frozen that prove otherwise, but how long will it take to completely get over the fact that women are mainly viewed as secondary citizens compared to the men? There are countless examples of how Disney movies influence this theme, and how much the female characters’ actions, ideas and thoughts are not included in a Disney movie.
Disney movies have a very narrow view of what women should be like. Since the arrival of the first Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, the idea of it has expanded, but rather marginally. There is a clear distinction of what a young women should be and what she shouldn’t be. Those who do not fit the mold of Disney’s expectations are cast aside to become villains, but those who do, end up becoming the damsel in distress. Ultimately, these stereotypes are what influences young girls who watch these films, and can have devastating effects on their self worth and change their idea of what it means to be a women. Films like Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,
Many of us have seen a Disney movie when we were younger. Disney movies captured our attention with their good morals and successful conclusions of finding their true love. The animations and music transform us into a land of magic where anything is possible if we just believe. Disney movies wrapped us in the idea that good always triumphs evil, that happy ever after exists. We have become the generation of Beauty and the Beast, 101 Dalmatians, Dumbo and Snow White as children now have not heard of these or have watched them. Some of these movies have been recreated and released in high definition and on DVDs in the past few years, but the structure and themes of the movies stays the same. However, we never stop and think about the undertones in Disney movies. They contain abuse, violence, dysfunctional relationships, and gender stereotypes, which is not appropriate for children. They may not understand what abuse, violence, dysfunctional relationships, alcohol or gender stereotypes are at their ages but do we want them to think that it’s normal. When we think that little girls watch these movies where the female characters are controlled by man or need a man to watch over them, they are not creating good role models for them. Would we not want them to have a better understanding that women do not have to have a prince charming to be happy, women can be independent and have careers and yes find love but not give everything up so their prince charming has the control.
Disney movies, which can be seen as very strong influences on impressionable children, seem to unequivocally present the romantic lives of princesses. In every film, the audience watches a beautiful princess almost fall into a moment of danger, if not for the charming prince, quick to rescue her. Yet, at a deeper level, we see that Disney Films are vehicles of powerful gender ideologies creating. Disney, through its movies, has the power to create a generational time frame of attitudes and beliefs in future gender definitions and gender roles for billions of young girls and female adolescents around the
These stereotypes are often portrayed in media, which impacts the psychology of women thereby shaking their confidence and self-esteem since childhood. Disney movies such as Cinderella, which are redeemed as a favorite movie of young girls, depict women as weak and reliant on men. In the movie, the main character, Cinderella, is presented as a weak and poor woman who works for her stepmother as a scullery maid. The fact that she married the prince, and gained happiness in her life further supports the stereotype that women rely on men for happiness in life. The whole concept of presenting Cinderella as a feeble female character who gains happiness and success through marriage rather than hard work alters the mentality of young girls, and forces them to assume that marriage is significant for success. Young girls often identify with their beloved character, thereby affecting the way they conceive beliefs regarding their future roles in society. According to “The Sexualization of Childhood,” young girls are taught to seek a life path that does not require tremendous effort and hard work, and consists of gaining a man’s support through marriage and feminine qualities (Olfman). Hence, as they grow up watching movies like Cinderella, they will develop a mindset that women are weak and dependent on men just to gain happiness in life, which further lowers their self-esteem and
Unfortunately, these stories all lack a crucial sense of diversity in today’s emerging and multicultural world. In the realm of the Disney Princesses franchise specifically, seven of the eleven women are Caucasian. Of these princesses, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, and Aurora all exhibit similar aspects of female subordination and second-class citizenry. These women, so idolized around the world for their beauty and enchanting fairytales, are also remarkably indicative of a time where civil rights for women were not prevalent, and furthermore illustrate a sense of complacency with this environment. In the current media-centered learning structure, adolescent girls look up to the princesses’ example, and are thereby taught that it is both normal and acceptable to be subjugated to men and dependent on them.
Disney princesses are fun for all ages, but their target audience is young children and “as children grow and develop, they can be easily influenced by what they see and hear”. Therefore, what they see and hear in Disney movies leaves an impression on them. The first princess, Snow White, was created in a time where each gender and race had a specific role in society. Recently, many believe that Disney has come a long way in regards to gender and race since Snow White, as several multi-cultural protagonists have been introduced subsequently, and gender roles do not appear to be as stereotypical as they once were. However, many of the apparent innocent messages about race and gender in these movies, can be exposed as otherwise. Despite their mask of progression, Disney princesses still have the potential to corrupt the minds of young children through sexism and racism.
Media is a powerful agent in entertaining children. It also influences and teaches the youth of society the suitable and appropriate gender roles that they inevitably try to make sense of. The power of media is very influential especially in the minds of the youth. Disney movies target the youth and plant certain ideas and concepts about social culture into the vulnerable minds of children. Media uses gender to its advantage, just like Disney productions. Humorous caricatures reveal some harsh realities about the portrayal of Disney Princesses in many movies made by the Walt Disney Company. Disney mixes innocence with the ultimate form of fantasy to capture an audience. Predominantly, Disney helps highlight the gender roles by showing the audience simply what they want to see. In the attempt to stick to the norm and portray stereotypical female characters, Disney created Princesses. Presented as damsels in distress and inferior beings to men, Disney Princesses give children an inaccurate portrayal of gender roles at a young age. Through Disney’s social success and intriguing films, such as The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, Disney Princess movies portray stereotypical representation of gender roles through the denigration of the female image, targeting and ruining the perception of youth today.