Stover, Cassandra (2013) "Damsels and Heroines: The Conundrum of the Post-Feminist Disney Princess," LUX: A Journal of Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont Graduate University: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, Article 29.
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
England, D., Descartes, L., & Collier-Meek, M. (2011). Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses. Sex Roles, 64(7/8), 555-567.
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,
Orenstein explores the rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and the differences that are in today’s society. The rise and fast spreading message that girls receive from the Disney Princesses is one of her biggest issues. Not only does she disagree, but other mothers from Daisy’s preschool do as well. In the second chapter Orenstein invites all the mothers with daughters that are obsessed with Princesses to discuss the subject, one mother states that she sees no problem with encouraging being feminine and then states, “On the other hand, I a...
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
Most children grow up watching Disney princess movies. Girls want to be extraordinary, beautiful, and similar to the princesses seen in these movies in terms of behavior. These movies teach them that they must be fashionable, beautiful and be rescued by a prince in order to be happy. However, these movies have been shown to have negative impacts on these young girls’ life, often resulting in low self-esteem, disobedience, overdependence, and an unrealistic expectation of male partners. As a result, young girls should not be encouraged to watch Disney princess movies because they idolize the characters, which are simply fictitious and just meant for entertainment, and these movies also cause disobedience, low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
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.
Since Disney’s Snow White appeared in 1937, Disney princesses have been a present in pop culture. With the release of new movies frequent and re-release of decades old movies inevitable, a continuous stream keeps Disney princesses in the foreground of adolescent society. It is with the value of entertainment they have been created and as entertainment they should be viewed.
Criticists however note the potential dangers of negative effects for young girls who may learn to put themselves into those gender stereotyped categories due to their exposal to the Disney Princesses. Since these almost always need men to save them and are often displayed in weak and vulnerable ways with the sole purpose to fulfill only traditional gender role stereotyped types of work. Furthermore, the article explains how more recent Disney movies approach a more feminist and modern version of Disney Princesses, however the merchandise still display them as more feminine and gender stereotyped in addition to the fact that the older Disney princesses remain very popular among young girls. The article mentions several minor studies that have been conducted with kindergarten aged girls and young adolescent women with the results that an “internalization of princess culture in the early childhood can potentially affect those girls’ long-term attitudes towards gender role typical distribution of work, behaviours, etc. It is also mentioned how boys who often watch Disney movies can be affected by the gender roles in the movies, such as for instance the possible engagement in less violent forms of play that exclude weapons etc. and their greater interest compared to other boys of the same age group in more feminine plays. Due to the broad range of movie related products and toys young children are often influenced by these when playing with gendered