Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Problem With Disney Princesses

Warning: "Disney meets social issues" topic ahead!

It's almost Princess day for little girls everywhere (better known as Halloween) and I find it interesting that this image is currently circulating the web right before multitudes of princess-ified trick-or-treat-ers arrive at the door. It's enough to give even the most pixie-dusted, pro-princess-patrons pause (Argh! Alliteration! You know it's going to be bad...)

From Cinematical:
... It's the classic Disney princesses roster -- Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, Jasmine, Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella. Above their smiling faces, however, are their basic characteristics and plot lines. When you boil it down to the basics, the story is enough to make anyone queasy. Snow White's hormones almost kill her, Aurora is married off in the crib for politics and saved years later with a kiss (or sex and slavery when Anne Rice has her say), Jasmine is a pretty girl saved by a street rat, Ariel gets to look pretty and say nothing, Belle works her sexuality, and Cinderella is saved because of her beauty.

And when you click on the picture for a full size to read the text it's even more blatant.

I don't happen to agree that the princesses are a completely lost cause but when you put things like this, it's easy to see why some begin to sound downright anti-(Disney)Princess.

To be fair, it's a little simplistic to summarize the ladies the way they have been in the image above, but nevertheless it's food for thought. But we can't blame it all on Disney. It's not like they haven't drawn daring darlings in the past (more alliteration - I can't help myself!). It IS, though, far harder to get a Mulan costume for Halloween than a Cinderella one.

Disney's Forgotten Princesses
by Mimi-Na

Speaking of Disney's Mulan, that's one lady I'd like on my team and there are other Disney heroines I wouldn't mind sharing the room with either but we rarely see them. Clearly Disney CAN drawn females of substance. Could it be they just don't know how to market them (at least for substantial profit)? Is it the WDC marketing moguls that force these few and their faults/flaws into regular view, or is it we, the people (a.k.a. consumers), that don't know how to embody dreams and happy endings without the puffy skirts and got-my-prince smiles? Will the much touted character of "Disney's Newest Princess" Tiana, break the trend?

What's more, will there ever be a politically-correct-yet-still-romantic way for those actively searching for their Prince Charmings and aiming for happily ever after, to get PC validation and reach this goal without being seen as a sell out?
The Non-Princess Club
by Mimi-Na
(which includes some actual princesses)

Caption reads: "Can I join? They said I wasn't pretty enough..."

I don't have a good answer. I'll admit I'm one of those who now has a negative reaction to the word 'princess' but I also think we're quick to point fingers (from both sides of the fence) and not sincerely consider our part in it all.

The only thing I can say with any certainty is that Mimi-Na from deviantArt titled her pieces well.
(Check her comments on her deviantArt pages - clicking on each image will send you there - for a full roster of names in each piece.)

*Puts away soap box and returns to her regularly scheduled blogging*


  1. This is a very interesting post.
    Personally, it greatly saddens me that society has really turned their backs on the princess imagery. It bothers me that fairy tales and princesses get scoffed at as nothing more than silliness. I think many of those tales and those princess still teach valuable lessons that people tend to forget. I think the problem is that with the feminist movement, woman have lashed out aganist feminity as a whole rather than embracing it. I don't think people realize you can be feminine and indepedant. You don't have to compromise the girly parts yourself in the name of feminine solidarity. And there are plenty of good virtues of those classic disney princesses. The majority of them are patient, kind, compassionate young ladies that love their families and most of whom have an adventurous streak. What is wrong with that? I think a large majority of people are simply fallen idealists who have possibly been too burnt in life to realize that concepts like true love and happily ever afters can exist, but it starts with onesself. It starts with being a good person. It starts with caring for your fellow man. To me that's what makes a true princess. So I still find the term to be a beautiful word and it's an ideal I strive to live up to.

  2. Will the much touted character of "Disney's Newest Princess" Tiana, break the trend?
    No. Look at the marketing: Tiana in a puffy princess gown with a tiara (I find her name fascinating, too, just one letter from the name of the classic princess crown). The title even specifies princess. So, even if Tiana gets a more substantial role in the movie than her predecessors, chances are good that what will be marketed to us (and what we'll buy) is her princess-perfect prettiness.

    Overall, a very engaging and interesting article. Thanks for this!

  3. Okay, I understand that the Disney princesses often escape bad situations only by their looks, but must society have to point it out? It is all fun and games... Their pretty dresses and faces are what little girls want. It would be lovely to have a politically correct princess, but nothing will damage my rose-hued view of the princesses.

  4. I'll tell you what. As a male who wants to keep the magic alive, I'll start buying male pixie's when they start making them. I'm sure the rest of you will join me in buying one male pixie for every Tinkerbell you get okay??
    I honestly think its buyers who shape the market (not 100% I rant you, but if Mullan costumes had been a sellout in every store across the country you bet you tiaras Disney would have made more for next year).
    I also think jasmine was pretty smart, savvy, & independent, especially in her culture. But she was a female who stood up for herself and saved Aladin from being buried alive.
    She's no simple sex kitten in my book.

  5. Hey now the give Ariel some credit. She did save her prince FIRST. At the beginning of the story.(In both the Disney & Anderson version) if it weren't for her he'd be dead not to mention she did it knowing it would anger her father.

  6. I agree! You know, it doesn't take a genius to see the problems with the disney princesses. Yes, it's supposed to be fun and games. But the problem is, it's affecting what girls think of themselves, and HOW they see themselves. True, you don't have to lose your "feminine" side, but that doens't mean you can use that side as your only weapon. I think that's the point here.

    The feminist movement, as a post has said, does not only as you think, do that. The feminist movement questions the roles of woman in society. How they use their mind, instead of their 'feminine' side to be indepedent, etc.

  7. actually all princesses having their problem because of their beauty,one part about Disney princess is that their partners just only attract in their physical appearance at first sight but then when they met the inner beauty of them. They deeply in love to each other do the happy ending is in there.