Imagine young girls looking up to heroines in movies who have a perfect body, perfect face, fantastic singing voice and are always trying to find her true love. These ideal stereotypes have girls all around the world mesmerized by the ideation of trying to be that “perfect” girl they see in Disney Princess movies. These movies also portray stereotypes concerning the role of a female including cleaning, cooking, and always having the male as the dominant role. Because of these stereotypes, younger girls are putting on lots of makeup, dying there hair, and trying to have the “perfect” body by working out or even cutting back on the food they eat.
These social norms create a false sense of self-esteem that can give younger girls the wrong message, and create a situation where if a young girl is criticized, her self-esteem may drop even more. My concern with Disney Princess movies following stereotypes is mainly based off of young children believing they need to succeed these expectations. These claims even affect boys as much as girls. Although many young girls and boys idolize Disney princesses, they promote stereotypical behavior and therefore female characters should be changed in upcoming movies.
Media, due to stereotypes have been influencing all generations poorly for many years. In fact, the history of stereotypes in Disney dates back to 1937 in Disney’s film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White stereotypes girls by showing them that cleaning is there job, they will one day be rescued by a prince, and they always have to take care of others. By showing young girls a perspective of a female role model that they look up to, may teach them to try to achieve the stereotypes that they portray.
The impact of movies on young children’s perception of their body images has also been a continued concern within the history of Disney Princess stereotypes. As I was reading an article on DoSomething.org, I learned that, “Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed in these movies by Americans in the media” (“11 Facts about Body Image”). The majority of girls have a problem with their body types, which is a major problem because girls should not be ashamed of their bodies. The Washington post did a study in 2002 about how princess culture affects 198 preschoolers and Elementary girls. The one main point they got out of this research is that the more the princess culture affects girls, the more they behaved in stereotypical feminine ways.
As well as stereotypes being portrayed in the older Disney Princess Movies, there are still signs of stereotypes in the newer movies. The newer movies that portray less stereotypes is Frozen, Moana, and Beauty and The Beast. Although these movies consist of less stereotypes, they still display stereotypes that can affect girls perspective on their bodies and what a relationship should not consist of. The Disney movie Frozen, has many stereotypes including the fact that girls have to have a man in there life to solve all their problems. Anna displays a girl who thinks her sister is better than her because she’s more “perfect”.
As I was reading an article on theguardian.com, I was enlightened that Elsa portrays a character that thinks she can do whatever she wants, “She’s dancing in the snow, complaining of how hard it is to play by the rules and conceal her inner self. She climbs the mountain”(Frozen’s Elsa in a Racy Dress). Not only is there stereotypes in Frozen, there are stereotypes in Beauty and the Beast. As I was reading an article on theodysseyonline.com, it became clear that ,”Belle can be compared to the stereotypical woman in today’s society because women today are forced to give up their own hopes and dreams to be the main caretakers of the home and children”(Gender Roles: As Told By Beauty And The Beast). Women in today’s society still face challenges in these stereotypical categories. As you can see there are many negative stereotypes portrayed by your movies that need to change. As a society we need to encourage our youth to be the best individual that they can be. We need to encourage our young impressionable youth that dreams do come true and that they should always pursue their dreams.
Ethically, it is imperative that we teach our young girls correct self images. We need to teach self reliance, strength, confidence, compassion, empathy, and persistence among others. All of these attributes are sometimes portrayed in your Disney Princesses, but seemingly the story lines don’t focus on this, they usually focus on a subordinative role for the Princesses, always being saved by a male hero. When young girls are subjected by the ideal princess, it makes them feel as if they need to meet those expectations.
Many parents of young girls are worried about them behaving like Disney Princesses and one parent expressed her opinion by stating that the “Disney Princess empire was the first step down a path to scarier challenges, from self-objectification to cyberbullying to unhealthy body images” (Little girls or little women? The Disney princess effect). Self objectification is very wrong and should not be acted upon at a young age. Keira Knightley (actress) was talking to Ellen Degeneres on her show about Disney Movies and Keira stated how the 1950’s Cinderella “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don’t! Rescue yourself. Obviously!” Keira Knightley is giving us commentary on the fact that women don’t need men to save them from there issues. Young girls should be taught that it is okay to not be perfect, it’s okay to put themselves first, and it’s okay for them to step up and to take action.
Although Disney princesses portray these types of stereotypes, there are still traits in Disney Princess movies that educate kids and show how they can be brave and embrace their own values. The newer movies display more of a brave and powerful female role, unlike the older movies. Moana is an example of a Disney movie which interprets a princess that breaks most of the female stereotypes portrayed in Disney Princess Movies. Moana is a princess that is brave, fearless, and she stands up to people just to protect her community. Even though she broke many stereotypes, she still is an ideal princess because she shows weakness in some parts of the movie.
Stereotypes in Disney Princess Movies have been decreasing throughout the years, but have not dissolved all the way. Tangled is a prime example of stereotypes decreasing but not all the way. The movie Tangled was a big transition into Disney breaking multiple stereotypes. As I was reading an article on medium.com, they explained that,” Tangled is a good movie that somewhat breaks these gender roles. Rapunzel doesn’t really need Flynn to save her. She has to save him a couple of times throughout the movie”(Disney Princess Movie: Gender Roles and Stereotypes).
Even though she broke stereotypes, she also displays many because she is “imprisoned within the tower since a child, she is a waif-like female with big eyes and a teeny-tiny waist who sings about doing chores with the refrain, “wonder when my life will begin.” Rapunzel is stereotypically overly emotional, swinging from one end of a mood swing to another as often as she (and others) swing from her long golden locks” (Disney’s Racist Stereotyping and Gender Roles Remain Un-Tangled). This is a prime example of a Disney Princess Movie that is both a negative and positive impact on the younger community.
As Well as current Disney Princess movies being a controversial topic dealing with stereotypes, there are still many problems due to the princesses that Disney aspires to be role models. In many of the Disney Princess movies, the woman are seen to be strong, loving, and kind people. As children watch these movies they learn these attributes and act upon it in their own life. These Disney princesses may teach children to be less selfless and shy away from any cruel acts.
Although these are ideal traits for society, there are still many traits in these princesses that the younger generation should not follow. The ideal women should be praised for many of her attributes and not just beauty. Even though some of the male characters fall in love with the princesses for their personality including Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and Mulan, there are still Disney Princess Movies that portray male characters falling in love with the princesses due to mostly there beauty such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Cinderella.
Most of the Disney Princess movies that show the male character fall in love with the princess for just her beauty, do not get to know each other and do not have a deeper connection besides there appearance. Therefore, Disney Princesses should proceed to show the attributes of a kind, loving and strong women and not show that the only beauty is on the outside.
My objective of this letter was to persuade you to address my views of these Disney Princess stereotypes. My perspective on these stereotypes is that they should not exist and should not be put out there for the younger generation to follow. The younger generation should not profile women to be a typical Disney Princess. If there was more diversity and stereotype breaking traits incorporated in Disney Princess movies, then there would be less controversy and more content that the younger generations can look up to. If there was more attributes shown in princesses such as being strong, kind, supportive, and smart, then the more parents will want their kids to pursue these traits and look up to them as role models.
I am aware that if you make Disney Princess Movies with these changes, not everyone will be satisfied, but more people who have either seen a Disney Princess Movie or have not, will be confident that the traits these princesses will acquire are an excellent way of teaching the younger generation that women are strong and independent in any situation.
- “11 Facts About Body Image.” DoSomething.org Volunteer for Social Change, www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image.
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