When I think of gender norms I think of little girls playing with Barbies and little boys playing with trucks. I think about all of the Disney movies I watched growing up that told me how and girl and boy should act and what they should be like. I didn't like it all too much because I found I was so different, it was painful to be reminded of my imperfections.
Girls aren't always the perfect weight or have beautiful makeup or have an amazing personality. We won't always clean and cook for men or be a loving gentle wife. And we for sure don't need you to swoop in and save us, nor will we necessarily do that for you.
Likewise, men aren't heroic and strong like Hercules. They don't always have the nice hair and a chiseled face. They aren't slobs either though like the seven dwarves Snow White dealt with. And they definitely aren't princes with all the money in the world.
"Men want girls with good taste, calm, obedient, who work fast pace, with good breeding, and a tiny waist."
Is that really all men see in a girl? The whole song "Honor To Us All" is about making Mulan look perfect to attract a man. Another line says that attracting a man is the only way a girl can bring her family honor and having a son. Everyone says how great and progressive Mulan was, but it's still much too far from where Disney should be.
All this song talks about is what men find attractive in women. This mainly consists of "marveling" at her man's strength, being a good cook, and finding no faults in the guy. Women are not perfect. And seriously, Disney? "I want her paler than the moon?" I've always found that to be a bit racist...
All Snow White does is clean for her seven dwarves! This movie perpetuates negative stereotypes for men and women. It portrays men as slobs who need a woman to clean up for them. And women are shown to be needed for cleaning and that's it.
Cinderella literally fell in love with a man in one night then married him. The worst part: The prince only sought her for her beauty. He was captivated by her looks and had to find the woman who looked so pretty and danced so well. Not the best message to be giving children.
Disney didn't even try with this one — they put "beauty" in the title! It's Cinderella all over again, with a man falling in love with a princess for her looks...in one day! She dances around, talking to the animals, looking pretty...Then the prince shows up, they sing a song, he leaves...Then she falls into a "deathlike sleep" and he kisses her comatose body and they live happily ever after! Something seems a bit wrong with that...How was it REALLY "true love's kiss?"
Disney doesn't just perpetuate negative female gender norms, but men have had their fair share of unfair treatment as well. Take a look at Hercules: he's strong, fast, handsome, and — most importantly — a hero! This movie encourages the idea that men have to hunks in order to find a decent wife. We'll go into Megara next...
Disney did better with Megara in terms of personality and characterization but still lacked in the realism department. She's a twig! Not to mention the fact that she bottles up all her emotions and claims to not need anyone. That's not a healthy way to live.
I bet you didn't see this combo coming! What could these possibly have in common, you ask? Appearance and personality. They are all — at least initially — portrayed as villainous, untamed, and mean. Ursula is absolutely shown to be overweight. The beast is, well, a beast; he's untamed and wild. The Evil Queen: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" She's obsessed with being beautiful and is portrayed as being ugly and therefore inferior and jealous.
I don't agree when people say Ariel gave up her tail and voice for a man: she was wanting to explore the land BEFORE seeing the prince. She had been curious for a long time as we see in "Part of Your World." However, the fact that the prince fell in love with her despite the fact that he knew nothing of her thoughts or opinion is a bit disconcerting.
The Beast isn't exactly caring at first, but he changes, right? Right?! Yeah, he does and that's great, but he was very abusive at first and in real life, abusers don't typically change quite so fast. Old habits die hard. Who's to say he won't get abusive or aggressive later? He'd been living as a beast for so long, how do we know his personality is truly changed for good?