Disney is Destroying Lives
“Am I fat?” is not a question you expect for a toddler, but, according to a study done by the University of Central Florida, over half of the girls they surveyed found themselves asking this question (Vanvonderen). This increase in dissatisfaction in body image comes from one source in particular: the Disney Princess brand. The official Disney Princess brand started in 2000 and sell products ranging from dolls and toys to dresses, makeup, and jewelry.
The brand continues to grow in popularity, and with this popularity comes the national debate about the ethics and morality of portraying these princesses as the role models for young girls.
Many believe that the princesses have done many great acts of heroism whilst others believe the overly gorgeous and obsession with men is not something they want in their daughters’ lives. Disney Princesses are not appropriate role models for young girls due to their almost impossible-to-attain beauty standards and their utter lack of independence.
Disney Princesses offer unreachable standards of body image that can lead to disastrous consequences for young girls. Susan D. Witt, a professor at the University of Akron with a Ph.D. did a 30-year study of women involved in television and movies. During her thirty-year observation, she noticed some fascinating trends. In her report, she writes, QUOTE “Women are more likely to be portrayed as younger than men are, and as thin. Females are consistently placed in situations where looks count more than brains and helpless and incompetent behaviors are expected.”
All Disney princesses fit this mold to a tee. They are beautiful and young and delicate and not one of them has a single scar. The princess “Belle” is said to have a flaw in her appearance, yet the flaw is that she simply has a single strand of hair that does not stay in place. How is this supposed to boost “girl power” and make girls feel confident to be themselves? No one in the whole world is perfect, yet Disney makes their princesses seem even more perfect when they claim a character is flawed when her hair is messed up.
In addition to this, the American Psychological Association decided to look into similar links between media girls and issues it could cause the general population of young girls. The APA claimed to find links that the women portrayed as perfect in the media often caused the development of QUOTE “eating disorders, low self-esteem [and] depression,” in female consumers. For example, there is a girl named Michelle Elman who always wanted to be a Disney princess?”like most little girls?” yet due to health issues she began to have many scars and surgeries, and soon skinniness was not even a possibility for her. According to her, all her health issues made her was discouraged and left her with feelings of low self esteem and that she could never be considered a beautiful princess.
Where is the princess who shows the less perfect people? People often face things in their life that they can scarcely control. Cancer affects over a third of people in their lifetime (National Cancer Institute), up to 35 percent of young kids needed surgery between 2000 and 2012 (Journal of Childhood Orthopedics), and 25 out of one million people will get diagnosed with a disease that will leave permanent scarring this year (NCBI)! However, not a single Disney princess struggles with any of these kinds of issues!. In fact, Disney even named one of their most infamous villains “Scar”! Where is the diversity in the Disney princesses if we never see any with very real problems that young girls have yet cannot control? Disney princesses cannot be view as appropriate role models when they show abnormal body standards and cause the self deprecation of many young girls.
However, some may say that the modern Disney Princesses show true independence and character, which all girls should strive after. According to the nationally printed magazine Study Breaks, Disney’s princesses are becoming women of great character. Reporter Megan Batt even went so far as to say, QUOTE”From Walt Disney’s first film, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,’ to the most recent production, ‘Moana,’ princesses have gradually become more independent.
Indeed, these new Disney princesses are fully capable of saving themselves.” END QUOTE (Batt) According to this article, Moana, Elsa, and Anna are all considered very independent. This does make sense since their storylines barely (if at all) deal with love. Although these statements are true, they are completely undermined due to the realization that the previously mentioned female leads are not even princesses! According to the official Disney Princess website, there are eleven princesses: Mulan, Pocahontas, Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana, Jazmine, Rapunzel, Merida, Snow White, Aurora, and Belle (Disney Entertainment).
Now please tell me, how Moana, Elsa, and Anna show how great of role models Disney princesses are when they themselves are not even considered Disney princesses? Well, it is quite simple, they cannot be. You cannot compare apples to oranges. If, the most independent and positively characterized princesses are not even real princesses, then how can the actual Disney princesses be considered phenomenal role models? Further, the aforementioned people also claim that these princesses work independent of their respective princes, especially when they themselves save the prince.
According to lifestyle site Her Family, QUOTE”Rapunzel has the courage to save herself instead of waiting around to be rescued.”END QUOTE (McGarry) Now, this conclusion is based on the fact that, at the end of the movie, Rapunzel saves Flynn by magically healing him. However, this argument fails to acknowledge the beginning of the story. Author and education specialist, Sharon Lamb, writes that Rapunzel still QUOTE “need[ed] a prince to figure it all out.” END QUOTE(Lamb) At the beginning of the story, Rapunzel herself claims to need Flynn to take her into the world.
Not only is she dependent on him to experience life, but also the rest-of-the-story would have never happened without his guidance. Flynn helps her out of the tower, takes her to the city, buys her the flag that helps her realize who she is, and cuts her hair. How, then, could it be stated that Rapunzel did not need the help of a man? In conclusion, the actual princesses are not at all independent and could not live out their stories without the males.
Due to Disney Princesses’ constant dependence on others and conformity to American beauty standards, they are inappropriate role models for young girls. By showing their constant dependence, they prove themselves to be bad role models. By basing their princesses off of very narrow-minded character models, they prove themselves to be bad role models. By boasting features that are often even skinnier and more sexual than models, they prove themselves to be bad role models. With all this evidence, how can we still allow the princesses to influence the young girls around us? For these reasons and many others, we need to look for better, more appropriate, and more diverse role models for the young girls around us in order to ensure a more educated look on society for them later in life.