Princesses To Feminists: The Evolution of Disney Princesses
Start writing a post
Entertainment

Princesses To Feminists: The Evolution of Disney Princesses

Disney's movement toward better role models for young girls

636
Princesses To Feminists: The Evolution of Disney Princesses
flickr.com

“Once upon a time…” the iconic phrase that has opened countless children’s stories for centuries. Recently, Disney has been the author of these stories that have stolen the hearts of many. However, some problems have arisen with Disney’s narration of these stories, particularly in the stories protagonists – the princess.

Young girls are utterly captivated by princesses and idolize these fairy tale characters, but problematic messages are being sent by their idols: only perfection is beautiful and men are always needed to provide. Despite this criticism, Disney princess movies have become increasingly more forward thinking over time. As these movies have evolved in the span of 75 years, their plots have become less sexist and more female-driven, and their characters have become acceptable role models for young girls through exemplary qualities such as imperfection and self-sufficiency.

Snow White, from the first Disney princess movie, is the least appropriate role model for young girls. When she first appears, she is scrubbing stairs and wearing rags, but at the same time wearing red lipstick, blush, eye shadow, and she has her hair perfectly primped. This image immediately sends a sexist message about beauty and gender roles: women are to look flawless at all times and serve only to complete household duties.

This message is further driven throughout the rest of the film. In the whole duration of the movie, Snow White’s image never changes; she always has on makeup and never has a hair out of place. Upon the first sight of mess inside an abandoned house, her first thought is to start cleaning, regardless of the fact that the house belongs to strangers.

Eventually, she meets these strangers (the dwarfs) and cooks them supper, again portraying Disney’s statement on gender roles.These two points reinforce that a woman’s sole purpose is to cook and clean, not only in her own household, but outside of it as well. In addition to her depiction as a picture-perfect housekeeper, Snow White is also depicted as a damsel in distress. She takes a fatal bite of the witch’s “magic wish apple,” wishing for Prince Charming to carry her away and live happily ever after. This leaves her in a coma-like state from which she needs “true love’s kiss” to be awakened.

Consequently, the plot suffers from the sexist undertones of her needing to be rescued and the fact that the whole plot of this movie is driven by Snow White’s beauty. She is always depicted as perfect and shown cleaning, cooking, or singing. Because of the sexist plot and the unrealistic image of beauty in this movie, Snow White is the least acceptable role model for young girls.

"Frozen," the newest Disney princess movie, revolves around two female protagonists, sisters Elsa and Anna, of whom the latter is currently the most ideal role model for young girls. Elsa was born with magical powers over ice and snow, and in her childhood, accidently struck Anna with her powers. Anna survived, but at the cost of her memories of Elsa’s powers and her relationship with Elsa altogether. The rest of the movie follows Anna’s desperate attempt to figure out why Elsa has locked her out and to fix her broken relationship with her sister. It is in this plot that Disney succeeds in telling a story without any sexist undertones.

"Frozen" is female-driven by a story about sisterhood, with love as a by-product of this initial plot. In addition, the character Anna is the most acceptable role model for young girls because she is courageous and flawed. Anna is seen for the first time with long red hair and a long, green dress, standing in front of Elsa’s locked door. The next time Anna is seen, she is sleeping, but she does not resemble Snow White when she slept. In this scene, Anna is snoring and drooling with an outlandish bed head and a stray hair in her mouth – not a very pretty sight, and that is exactly the point.

This image sends the message that a princess does not have to look good at all times and neither does a little girl. Anna’s image is also constantly changing, unlike Snow White. Aside from her image, there is depth to Anna’s character; she turns out to be brave and determined. She goes off into the mountains by herself to find Elsa and make things right, showing complete self-sufficiency.

By the end of the movie, she sacrifices her life to save Elsa’s, regardless of their still broken relationship, showing her unconditional love for her sister. Both of these feats, along with her reasonable image of beauty, show Anna as an utterly realistic and acceptable role model, and a great improvement in Disney’s attempt to make forward thinking, less sexist protagonists.

Disney has planned to release their newest princess movie, "Moana," which brings up questions about how the female protagonist will be portrayed. Early in the past, both Disney’s plot and characters sent poor messages of beauty and femininity to female viewers. However, as Disney princess movies have evolved through the years, their protagonists have grown away from stereotypical, sexist gender roles and have gradually become more flawed and self-sufficient. As a result, the Disney princess has grown to be a more acceptable role model for young girls. Will the same be true for Moana?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Olivia White

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets is a real thing and recognizing the warning signs is important.

243707

Since March, Covid-19 required most of the world to quarantine in their homes. Majority of people ended up working from home for nearly five months. This meant pet owners were constantly with their pets giving them attention, playing with them, letting them out etc. Therefore, when the world slowly started to open up again and pet owners began returning to normal life work schedules away from the home, pet owners noticed a difference in the way their pet acted. Many pets develop separation anxiety especially during this crazy time when majority people were stuck inside barely leaving the house.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

377860

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1769419

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments