Disney Princesses as role models

Apparently there is a Christian group out there that wishes girls would be more like Disney princesses. I’m assuming they mean they want women to be more lady-like and demure, and let the man save them and so on.

It should be noted that many of those Disney films are from a time where women had great trouble trying to be anything but the loving mother and wife. disney-princesses-photo Snow White, for instance, came out only 17 years after women got the right to vote. Modern Disney films find female characters taking a bit more control over their lives.

Some of you may know that I am a bit of an animation historian. (Seriously. I founded a magazine called “Animato!” that was quite successful in the ’90s, and I’ve been quoted in “Entertainment Weekly” and in a number of books about animation.) So I love discussing this sort of thing.

So let’s humor the traditionalists for a minute and look at the lessons we can get from these Disney princesses — I’m not sure they’re exactly the lessons the conservatives want given…

Snow White: Lived with seven men

Cinderella: Snuck out of the house to go to a party

Aurora: Fell in love and married the first man to kiss her while she was unconscious

Ariel: Disobeyed her father and ran away to have an inter-species relationship

Belle: Suffered from Stockholm’s Syndrome, stayed with a man who abused her, and dabbled in bestiality

Jasmine: Ran away from home and fell in love with a “street rat”

Pocahontas: Disobeyed her father and fell in love with the enemy (We can debate whether she really should be considered a “princess” — we’re kind of stretching the definition here a bit)

Mulan: Disobeyed her parents, refused to follow traditional female roles, became a cross-dresser, and broke her country’s laws

Tiana: Refused to accept a traditional female role and engaged in an inter-racial marriage at a time when it was illegal in her state (Also doubtful she should be considered a “princess” but Disney defines this very loosely for marketing purposes. I’ve seen pictures where they included Meg and Esmerelda, and that is just getting ridiculous. And “Anastasia” wasn’t a Disney film!)

Rapunzel: Disobeyed her “mother” and ran away with the first man she ever met

Merida: Refused to obey her parents, refused traditional women’s roles, dabbled with the occult

Yep! Great examples for today’s girls!

Disclaimer: I’m just having some fun here. Don’t take any of this too seriously!

4 thoughts on “Disney Princesses as role models

  1. Maybe they haven’t watched the movies. The princesses are very well behaved in their tv shows and ettiquette books. My uberchristian uncles hate Disney princesses, for the reasons you list and more.

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  2. Some of the Disney Princesses aren’t so bad. Mulan, Merida, Rapunzel, and to some degree Belle, have redeeming qualities. (I’m told this is also true of Tiana, but I have not seen the film.) “Brave” gets special mention for it’s lack of sappy romance. The rest, though? Ugh!
    At Smith, I took a course on fairy tales and gender. We analyzed a couple of Disney films. Did you know Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) does not speak once after the prince kisses her? Seriously, not one sound in the last 15 minutes of the film. I don’t need to go into the implications of a girl losing her voice once she has a boyfriend, right?
    And speaking of voices, what about Ariel? Voiceless throughout much of the time she spends with Eric. I guess if you want to get the boy, you should be seen and not heard. Some of my friends despair of raising girls in a Disney Princess-saturated world. I don’t blame them.

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  3. Pingback: Alternate Disney Princesses |

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