Since 1937, Walt Disney Animation Studios has been creating fairy tale movies that have caught the eye of all. Many of these films are based off the classic stories featuring villains, princes and princesses. Throughout the seventy-eight years that Disney has been making movies, society has changed, creating new expectations for the next animated films to come. Many young girls love the princesses and the stories they bring with them, but in reality, who wouldn’t love a perfect girl with a perfect life doing perfect things? Disney princesses have become the role models of many young viewers. However, is that really a good thing? Unintentionally or not, Walt Disney has set the standards for a princess way too high. As a kid, you don’t know any better. All you do know is that you want to grow up to have a waist smaller then your head, a friendship with all the talking animals of the forest, and a prince charming with a six-pack and muscles to die for.
What’s something that Mulan, Rapunzel and The Little Mermaid all have in common? They teach you that it’s okay to run away from home! Don’t like to follow the rules at home? Run away! Want to go out and save the world? Just run away! Now, while these princesses end up saving people and are better off in the end, this act of rebellion is not a good message to young children. It demonstrates that running away is safe and if they do happen to run into danger, nothing bad but a few minor cuts and bruises will happen. The films do happen to show some of the dangers of running away, including creepy strangers trying to give you poisoned apples, but they don’t show you the right thing to do in these situations. Snow White, for example, chose to take the said apple and look where it got her. However, since it is Disney we’re talking about, all it took was a kiss from another stranger to fix that problem.
All of the Disney princesses are known for their flawless hair and perfect bodies. This wouldn’t be that bad, except the fact that none of them resemble a realistic human being. As a kid, my favourite pick out of them all was Ariel for looks. I dreamed about having her long, voluminous, perfect-shade-of-red hair. Sooner or later though, I came to the realization that no one is born without flaws and being that skinny is not something that everyone can accomplish. For this reason, self-esteem issues start to come into the picture and make all those little girls feel like they can never meet the high standards of their favourite princess. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel decides to give up her voice for a pair of legs. The sea witch, Ursula, even tells her how useless a voice is for ‘winning’ a man, and that her body is supposed to be her key to his heart, not her thoughts or vocal abilities. This one time when I was babysitting for a family of three girls, we decided to watch the classic Cinderella. After the movie, they all began to reenact it. The oldest took the role of Cinderella, and the two younger ones became the two step sisters, Anastasia and Drizella. They acted out the scene where Cinderella claims her glass slipper and the prince finds his new bride. In the spur of the moment, the oldest cried out that she ended up marrying the prince because the two stepsisters were ugly. I was a little surprised about this, and I asked her why it wasn’t because they were mean people. She just sort of giggled, and said that yes they were mean, but they were also very ugly. When I asked her why she thought that, she told me that they didn’t have nice hair and a pretty dress like Cinderella, therefore making them ugly. To me, that says a lot about why princesses have become bad role models.
One last thing that I believe Disney has shown us is that you can give everything up for love. Both Pocahontas and Ariel find a man they fall in love with, even though it is seen as unacceptable to their families. Pocahontas is the more realistic one of the two because in the end she chooses her family over the man because she does not want to give up who she is. However, she still manages to show that it is okay to defy your parents if you really think you know what’s best. Ariel on the other hand, goes against all odds and trades who she is as a mermaid and her family to go marry a man that she doesn’t know a thing about. She even decides to sell her voice to a witch for a pair of legs just to go track this stranger down. Obviously, trusting that a strange man is perfect for you can be rather dangerous. But these Disney princesses don’t know what real danger is. A girl should never feel that she needs to change who she is or give up what she loves just for a man.
In conclusion, I feel that the Disney princesses we know and grew up with have ended up being bad role models to most specifically younger girls. The stories and characters themself are far too unrealistic for someone to be comparing and looking up to. That’s why, after all, we call them fairy tales.