I’ve grown up singing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, dancing to “Colors of the Wind”, and falling asleep to “A Whole New World”. I’ve dreamt of the day when I would find my true love and live happily ever after. Nothing made me happier than a Disney princess movie before nap time, or using my Disney princess plate during lunch. Disney’s singing animals, laughs, ball gowns, and happily-ever-after endings never failed to put a smile on my face.
Sincerely asking myself if Disney princesses have been a positive influence in my life is a hard question to answer. When I grow up, I know I will share the magic of Disney Princess movies with my young daughters, however, are Disney princess stories a positive thing for them to grow up singing and dreaming of? Have I benefited positively or negatively from ball gowns and tiaras? Is every young girl going to respond the same way? How can I make sure my daughters are positively influenced by Disney princess? These are a few questions that come to mind as I contemplate such a subject. After researching, and digging deep into my own life, I am glad to share what I have found.
1. Wardrobe Choices – A negative influence girls could be subjected to, is the clothing of these princesses. From Jasmine’s off the shoulder crop top, to Ariel’s bikini attire, flags are raised. Young girls must learn to understand that Disney Princesses are simply fictitious characters, and the way they dress would not be appropriate in real life. Parents can set a concrete example by the way they dress. It makes sense that whatever mom wears, young Suzie will find acceptable as well.
2. Rebellion – Many of the princesses go through a rebellious phase. Ariel’s wishing to be part of the human world was partly because she felt misunderstood by her father. Letting herself become human was out of her father’s control and authority, therefore her form of rebellion. By the end she finds her true love, and even rekindles trust with her father. Considering this particular story line in the light of the real world, does this teach young girls that there are no consequences when they rebel against their own parents? Not necessarily. Ariel went through a lot of troubles after she made that decision (evil octopus, losing her voice… the works). Young girls after watching Ariel’s story could indeed learn that there are consequences for our actions. Also, being parented in way that provides consequences for all actions (whether good or bad), can encourage young girls to develop good decision making skills.
3. Body Image – An additional point to consider is why Disney animators have constantly made their princesses an ideal hourglass shape, “perfect” by most definitions. Jewel Moore, A high school student in Farmville Virginia, has launched a Change.org petition for Disney to create a plus-size princess. Claiming that Disney does, in fact, have influence over young girls, she is fighting for a new size of role model. However, some are arguing that if Disney is to heed these petitions, realistic princesses with healthy dimensions should be produced instead of a plus-size figure. This would provide something for young girls to look up to, with a decreased chance of an insecurity backfire. There is nothing wrong with girls having a healthy body that doesn’t fit Disney princess parameters.
4. Inspiration – Clothing choices, a sense of rebellion, and body image are not necessarily what young girls are most aware of when watching a princess flick. The sense of freedom, independence, courage, and kindness displayed by these princesses provide ample inspiration to any young girl. Snow White, the original Disney princess, is kind and accepting of the Dwarves, and demonstrates a level of joy that is infectious to young children. Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) inspired a sense of adventure inside me. The excitement she expressed about the ‘great wild somewhere’ ignited a form of that same excitement about the world in my heart. Rapunzel (from Tangled), also displayed an adventurous and outgoing spirit. Her courage to face the outside world is a characteristic every young child should learn in their early years.
Any obsessive behaviors from watching these characters should obviously be monitored and result in limitations for sure. I am positive that if I was not secure in my own self-worth and identity, I would not have had an entirely positive experience with Disney princesses. If I had let Disney tell me who I was, or who I should be, I would conclude that they were a negative influence in my life. While these characters do represent fun, adventure, and even love, parents can’t allow their children get to the point where they look to these Disney princesses for the ideal measurements of beauty, love, and happiness. Disney Princess movies are just entertainment and not a lifestyle. As far as entertainment is concerned, Disney is and will always be one of my favorite sources of inspiration!
This article was written by a 17 year old author. We thought a teen’s perspective would be interesting on this topic due to her age.
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