Of course, Mulan is harmful. Have you seen her with a sword?!
Daily Mail recently released this article entitled Could Disney princesses Harm Your Child? It included research from several prominent universities, including Brigham Young University; Taylor is a BYU alumni, and I, as a former student of Brigham Young University-Hawaii, was interested in what the article had to say. The article suggested that girls who spend regular time watching Disney princess movies and playing with Disney princess merchandise are prone to more female-stereotypical behavior, which becomes a problem when they avoid experiences that aren’t seen as “feminine.” It also points out that the Disney princesses perpetuate skinny culture, indoctrinating toddlers into thinking they need to be skinny.
I can see where the article is coming from, but let me go nerdy and analytical on you, and tell you why I have some problems with this article.
- Sources? No links to the sources. I know studies on Disney princesses are out there, but it concerns me when an online article doesn’t bother pointing them out. It’s hard to know if a study was well performed and what it truly concluded if I can’t see the source material itself. I feel that all too often in our society we refer to “studies” to prove our points, even though we’ve never read them ourselves. Not every study is a good study. The internet is a prime example that anyone can just about “prove” anything.
- Who is parenting who? I see how Disney Princesses could be harmful…if they’re the ones raising children. I think it’s only harmful in some sense if parents aren’t talking to their children. Unfortunately, sometimes this happens. But I think the majority of parents help their kids distinguish between Disney life and real life. I definitely grew up with Disney princesses; heck even as an adult, Disney princesses are my jam! However, my parents taught me to be my own kind of princess and encouraged me finding my own identity.
- And going off of that, I feel that it’s unfair to lump all the Disney princesses together. Disney has done a great job of diversifying their princesses, and I don’t just mean in ethnicity. Each one has distinct personalities and roles they play. I think most people only really identify with one or two Disney princesses as opposed to all of them. When I was a child, there was only maybe one Princess I wanted to emulate and that was the one with the most similar personality to me anyway. I’ve worked with a lot of children, and one of my go to questions for girls is, “Who is your favorite Disney character?” or “Which Disney princess is the best?” I can confidently say that most little girls have one definitive princess favorite, and it’s usually the one they connect to the most.
- He said, she said. The study points out the percentages of dialogue in the film of men vs. women. However, the ratio of men vs. women is not equal so of course there’s going to be a larger percentage of male dialogue when the cast is predominately male. Let’s take the example of Mulan. In Mulan, 76% of the dialogue is male. But, that 76% is spread across 7-10 supporting male characters, leaving Mulan with the majority of the remaining 24% to herself.
- Define feminism. This article is clearly written from a feminist standpoint, which is fine. I’m a feminist, and I love feminism. However, I felt that the article supports only one train of thought amongst feminists, which is basically gender neutralization. I do not follow that school of thought, and thus see no problem with little girls wanting to be feminine. If they want to wear pink and jewelry and not go out and play in the mud, well then good for them. That’s not how I choose to embrace my femininity, but I don’t see a problem if others do. Plus, let’s be real, we starting putting little girls in pink from the moment they are born, so I don’t think this is a Disney princess problem.
- Women Power. I know that often princesses are criticized by needing to be rescued by men. Which I feel is one way of looking at it. But if we think of women being able to exert their power in more way than one, we could argue that some of the princesses are pretty smart. I mean Cinderella used her beauty and charms to not only to secure a prosperous husband, but also escaped an abusive situation and became a powerful ruler. Historically speaking, if Cinderella had wanted to leave her stepmother, her only other options probably would’ve ended up with her becoming a prostitute.
- Speaking of princes. What I have always felt to be the most harmful part of the Disney princess franchise is the unrealistic expectations it sets for romance and instalove. Don’t mistake me; I love that it teaches that true love is possible, which I absolutely want my children to believe in. But, unfortunately, sometimes the people we think are charming princes turn out not to be. The amount of abuse that happens to women is disturbing. I have appreciated modern Disney movies who have addressed this. Frozen, in particular, I adore because it broke the mold and showed that yeah, when it seems too good to be true, usually it is. Sometimes handsome men turn out to be big fat jerks. Sometimes people are out there to use you and abuse you. Or sometimes your first love just isn’t the best for you. But, despite all that, Frozen showed that eventually you can find someone kind and compatible as Anna ultimately did find love with Kristoff, who is a decent person but maybe not quite Prince Charming.
Any who, at the end of the day, I think it’s pretty clear that the journalist and I are taking this all a little too seriously.
What do you think? Do you think Disney princesses are harmful? Who is your favorite Disney princess?
Tootle loo, darlings! And by the way, I officially get internet on Monday! I’ve been using my hotspot this week for my couple of posts.