Are Disney Princesses Positive Role Models?
Long before Frozen came to our screens in 2013, Disney princess’s have been kicking butts in their own problematic ways. In no way are these leading ladies perfect, but it is time to look at the positive messages they send to our young females.
I am living proof you can be a feminist whilst being brought up on Disney (and believing you’re a Disney princess too!). I watched Cinderella wait to be rescued, Ariel trading her voice for a man and Sleeping Beauty have love at first sight, and yet I am still a proud Disney-loving feminist.
For the last 75 years, Disney has been teaching young girls that their stories deserve to be told, no matter what and introducing well written female characters for young girls. Over 50% of the population is female, yet in family film, male characters outnumber females at a 3:1 ratio.
Even nowadays with ‘positive’ role models such as Hermione Granger, we are shown that females are always the sidekicks, and never the heroes. That made it even more extraordinary, when Frozen not only offered 2 leading ladies, but also showed that females don’t need to be rescued by a man, and that true love comes in many forms. But Frozen was not the first Disney film to do this, it shows this in many other of the Disney princess franchise.
The most iconic & memorable Disney princesses of all time would be Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. These films have also given Hollywood 3 of the most memorable female villains in history. When Snow White was released, it brought in $8million internationally and assumed the record of highest grossing sound film at the time. Considering that Snow White was released only 17 years after women got the vote, having a film with a leading female, leading female villain and having the male character as a supporting role with no name or story, it was very revolutionary to have that for young females at the time.
We need to look past the fact that Disney Princesses clean and need rescuing, and look at what positive messages they send females instead! Cinderella was always kind and thoughtful, who never gave up on her own hopes and dreams. Jasmine demanded to be treated like an equal and decided her own fate and future. Aurora teaches us that there are great rewards in bravery and that family is the greatest support. Belle teaches us to look past what we can see and to put others before ourselves. Finally, Tiana, Merida and Mulan teach us that hard work and dedication pays off and that females can do anything boys can do, if we put our minds to it.
It would be hypocritical to argue that these princesses are flawless role models, being slim and beautiful, yet reinforcing the limiting beauty standards women still have to face but if we can teach our young generation to separate the positive qualities; kindness, bravery, intelligence and honour from the gender stereotypes it would be invaluable for our young generations.
I actually wrote this in college many moons ago, came across it and thought I would share it <3