Why Disney Princesses Are the Worst Role Models EVER
All_Is_Mal has a little problem with the Disney role-model model. Pitchforks up or thumbs up?–Sparkitors
I really, really detest Disney princesses. I hate them more than Dan Bergstein hates baby-daters, more than Harry hates Draco, more than Congress hates getting things done (BURN). I put up a Facebook photo essay on them, I’ve written satire about them, and I blog about them on a regular basis, but it's still not enough. Princess-lovers, please put down your Cinderella-emblazoned chainsaws (they put princesses on everything these days) and hear me out! I promise that I have a point here. First, let's examine the classic prince-meets-princess conversation:
Prince: Wow, check out that unbelievably stunning girl! I love her! *walks over*
Princess: Oh, look! A handsome prince!
Prince: I love you!
Princess: Really? Then I love you, too!
I don’t hate the princesses as people—they’re all really kind girls. But Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are the same person in different bodies. They have no personality whatsoever. Ariel, on the other hand, does have a personality—one that allows her to abandon her family, give up her greatest talent (perhaps permanently!), and radically change her body for a man she’s never spoken to. Jasmine teaches little girls that it’s okay if your boyfriend lies to you about his entire life, and Belle thinks that even if a man is horrible to you, stick it out! You can change him! Each has impossible body proportions, and their main defining traits are as follows:
Waist Smaller Than Head
ARGH. Although the full list is extremely lengthy, here are my biggest pet peeves about princesses:
No Growth: There is not a princess out there that learns, grows, changes, or progresses over the course of the story line. Isn’t that the point of a story? For characters to grow and progress? They're all flat, static characters that make me want to puke.
Superficial Standards: The only reason that any of the princesses get a happy ending is because they’re gorgeous. In the words of Laura Robinson, “I have seen, heard, and read more Cinderella renditions than I can possibly count, and every Cinderella character seems to have one trait in common: She’s pretty. Cinderellas can also be active or passive, bold or shy, rebellious or submissive, outspoken and strong, or worn out and broken down. None of these qualities really matter because the only attribute she actually needs to get the prince is beauty.” Imagine if the princesses were of average attractiveness. Cinderella is never noticed by her prince, Snow White’s prince never has the absurd urge to kiss a dead girl, and Sleeping Beauty isn't followed by Phillip in the woods (also, pretty creepy). Aladdin would never become smitten with Jasmine, and Eric would never go out of his way to spend time with Ariel. We’re telling little girls that physical beauty is their most important trait.
Misconceptions of Love and Happily Ever After: Princess stories repeatedly advertise love at first sight. Princesses marry a prince after only interacting with him once! Plus, these movies make marriage look like the end of the story (really, it’s just the beginning: you have the whole rest of your life ahead of you!). Plus, the princes are just awful. Did I mention that Prince Charming kisses a pretty girl in a coffin? Unless you’re vampires, your first kiss definitely shouldn’t be in a coffin. And all of them fall in love with the princess only because she’s pretty!
The Eternally Passive Princess: All of these girls have skills, and I firmly believe that each one of them could have escaped their undesirable situations without being saved by a man. But none of them do. Being a princess comes with the promise that you don’t have to venture out and take risks, somebody will just come along to save you. Fairy tales are chock-full of stationary princesses. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White just lie around for a while, Rapunzel functions as her own ladder in a tower, Cinderella sits around until her fairy godmother shows up.
Disclaimer: The reinvented Rapunzel from Tangled is actually a good role model for little girls. Maybe things are looking up?
Is All_Is_Mal being too tough on princesses? Or not tough enough? We want to see a fiery debate in the comments, people.
Related post: What Your Favorite Disney Princess Says About You
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