Alex Flinn affirms in her novel Beastly
that "Every girl pretends she is a princess at one point, no matter how little her life is like that."
Whether you agree with her or not, Disney princesses and their influence on the development of young girls' views of ideal body image has been a major subject of discussion for years.
We have seen them in a range of makeovers: lifelike
, in princes
' and villains
' clothing, in period dress
, as Moulin Rouge characters
, and even as super heroes
, just to mention a few.
The first Disney princess emerged in 1937; however, the Disney princess media franchise was only created in the late 1990s by Disney Consumer Products chairman, Andy Mooney.
The Disney princess line-up features Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel and Merida, who was crowned in May 2013. Anna and Elsa from Frozen are expected to join the group (via The Disney Wikia
), as well as Leia Organa, who was purchased with the entire Star Wars
universe from LucasFilm
for $4 billion in 2012
In a review of Disney's latest animation, Frozen
, Anna Smith, from The Guardian
points out that as much as writers try to create more complex female characters for Disney animation movies, their efforts end up being hindered by the visual disparity evidenced in unrealistic and sexualised body images:
"We all know that big eyes are cute – just look at Puss in Boots. But in human females, they're also an animator's shorthand for attractiveness – and a major feature of adult anime, hentai," she said. "To use these big doe eyes as standard in supposedly realistic human females reduces the characters' individuality and sends out a message: to be a princess, you must not only be brave, but have a specific, unattainable brand of beauty."
That seems to also be what Buzzfeed's Loryn Brantz has in mind. She has come up with a fabulous makeover of 6 Disney princesses who now have realistic waistlines
The absurdly thin bodies of Disney characters has also been subject of the paper, "Fairytale Dreams: Disney Princesses’ Effect on Young Girls’ Self-Images." It states there are invaluable lessons to be learned from Disney princess movies, but they are often overridden by their negative aspects.
The author quotes Dr. Sharna Oflman, a professor of psychology in the Humanities and Human Sciences department of the School of Arts and Sciences at Point Park University: "Many Disney princess films also associate body image and physical appearance with distinct attributes. A good character, such as a kind-hearted and compassionate princess, is described as fair, thin, and beautiful. On the contrary, Disney films often associate evil and maliciousness with poor physical appearance as is the case with the villain Ursula in The Little Mermaid"
“When children repeatedly receive the unchallenged message that physical traits reflect character flaws, we are training them to embrace societal stereotypes that are both wrong and deeply hurtful," Oflman adverts.
Spoken poet Melissa May addresses Disney's
"fat shaming" in her poem "Dear Ursula," an open letter to the Disney villain.
In 2013, photographer Jamie Moore gained the respect of the Internet with five photos of her (then) five-year-old daughter dressed as inspiring historical women.
"I wanted her to know the value of these amazing women who had gone against everything so she can now have everything. We chose five women (five amazing and strong women), as it was her fifth birthday, but there are thousands of unbelievable women (and girls) who have beat the odds and fought, and still fight, for their equal rights all over the world," she explained on her website
"Disney Princesses" is a $4 billion franchise and has broadened to include everything from toys, books, underwear, bedding, music CDs, electronic and video games, and even Disney Princess Magazine
, according to Ann C. Hall and Mardia Bishop in their book Mommy Angst: Motherhood in American Popular Culture.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Should the look of Disney princesses be changed to reflect more average body types and appearances? Let us know in the comments!
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