I have always loved Disney movies, and with lots of little cousins, I could never forget the Disney Princesses. As I listen to the music and watch the movies with them as an adult, however, I notice a lot more than I did as a child. Although I don't necessarily agree with critics over-analyzing Disney films, to a certain point I agree with them. Especially with the newer princesses introducing independence from men while emphasizing relationships with their family and countries, the older princesses begin to pale in comparison.
My opinions have even changed about one of my favorite Disney films, "Cinderella". Although as a child I was enchanted by her beautiful blue dress and romantic evening at the ball, my opinions on her have changed, and I noticed she gives girls the wrong message.
"Cinderella" teaches girls that if they are kind to others around them, then she will live a happy life. Although the writers intended to teach the audience to treat people well, it failed to teach girls another important skill in their life: how to stick up for themselves. Cinderella was so worried about being kind to her step-family that she let herself become the maid in her household.
Young children need to know that sticking up for yourself does not make you unkind. They must know that before helping someone else, they need to maintain their physical and mental health. Seeing one of their favorite princesses sticking up for themselves will only encourage them. One could only imagine the impact on bullying in schools if a Disney Princess herself discouraged it.
Another questionable choice is how Cinderella escapes her problem. First of all, instead of finding her own way out, she looks for a prince to save her. Although I don't know what other alternatives she had, or if she would've been able to survive if she went off on her own, this solution doesn't show young audience members how to solve their problems. Disney should have encouraged young women to find another alternative to getting out of her abusive home. Also, instead of confronting her stepmother, she decided to escape. She should have tried communicating with her stepmother instead of running away from her problems.
"Cinderella" was made in 1950, and since then the world has changed. While some of the lessons being taught in the film are not ideal, instead of picking it apart, we should look at how Disney's changing for the better. With films like "Frozen" teaching kids about sibling relationships and depression and "Moana" teaching independence and how to be a good leader, they're moving in the right direction. Hopefully, this trend will continue, so little girls like my cousins will look up to more positive role models.