Growing up, mostly every child has seen their fair share of Disney movies. Many people do not realize the deeper effect these films have on children. Children’s movies are more powerful than TV shows because the longer storylines allow for more character development, thus having more of a lasting impact on the viewer.
Disney princesses, specifically, teach young boys and girls how females are supposed to behave and look, and how men are supposed to treat them.
Many of the earlier Disney princesses are portrayed as beautiful, thin, helpless, incapable, submissive, and caring. As a result, young girls that look up to these earlier princesses as role models, get the immediate impressions that they must have the same characteristics. Most of these princesses are constantly chasing after a man, and are always needing to be saved by their prince. This common theme teaches young girls that one of the only purposes in life is to find the perfect man and that if they get into trouble, there will always be someone to save them.
In the podcast “Saving Our Daughters From An Army of Princesses”, NPR’s Linda Wertheimer has a discussion with Peggy Orenstein, a researcher and the mother of a preschool girl, about the affects princess movies have on her daughter.
With changing and more progressive times, Disney female portrayals have improved. This is seen in newer characters like, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Elsa. These characters exemplify more independent and strong traits unlike the earlier Disney princesses. As a result, society has been coming more familiar with how females are portrayed in Disney films and how it is wrong. This is shown in the following youtube musical from 2014:
As portrayed in the youtube clip, young girls should not be raised with the impression that the sole purpose in life is to chase after a man. While these princess movies are entertaining with great music, they are more toxic than they seem.
The following tweet promotes the Huffington Post article that has recreated Disney princess’s unrealistically thin bodies into average, healthy bodies. Another unrealistic characteristic that all Disney princesses attain, no matter what time period, are their petite and beautiful appearances. When young girls watch these films, they see their favorite characters live happily ever after with their prince. In movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, both of their princes fell in love with them before actually knowing anything about them and their personality besides their physical appearance. As a result, young girls process this, allowing them to believe that they will only find love and happiness if they are just as beautiful and thin as the princesses that they look up to.
Ultimately, with society constantly changing, female roles in Disney movies have been changing as well. While some female portrayals have been representing women in a more positive way, there are still many stereotypes that give young boys and girls the wrong message about what women’s roles in society are. Girls that watch these Disney movies are taught that beauty, body weight, and love are the only values in life; boys that watch these Disney movies are taught that women will do all the work at home for them since women are incapable of doing anything else.