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How Disney’s Princesses Are Bad Role Models

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Little girls have grown up worshipping these perfectly illustrated young women on their TV screen. As much as there are great lessons behind Disney movies; the Disney Princesses were not great role models for young girls. They generated an illusion—a fantasy world for girls that wished to be like them. Unrealistic expectations, beliefs and physicality all made up the backstory for these movies—they have been culturally significant.

Halberstam’s argument goes against the usual theme of Disney movies. Halberstam argues that in cartoons like Finding Nemo and Chicken Run, instead of the usual message being be true to yourself and your beliefs, it is do whatever in your power to create a better society. We must keep in mind when it comes to children, they enjoy rebellion—they are not mature enough to understand love, death, and failure. The term “princess” started to be used around 1924. It was used to describe someone admirable or generous. Young girls enjoy seeing Ariel undermine her father’s authority—or Belle from Beauty and the Beast agreeing to take her father’s place in the exchange. In The Little Mermaid, the main character Ariel uses her beauty to seduce the handsome prince Eric. Ariel makes Eric fall in love with her by not speaking. This hidden message in the film is that guys fall in love with girls who do not talk. Something that a girl can take from this movie is that they do not have to have an opinion in anything. Being silent with men is the ideal method to make a man fall in love with you. Hence, the films are popular because they go against these ideas.

Halberstam said that cartoons influenced audiences when they came together as a group. I used The Chicken Run example— which showed female chickens that didn’t rely on the male chicken and formed a coup to escape. Instead of seeing the queer as a singularity, she said to see them as a collective whole. When it comes to other cartoons, I think Disney princesses have been incredibly influential to children’s lives. I think most girls can say that when they were younger they idolized Disney Princesses. I know I did; I thought I would grow and automatically be sure of everything when it came to solving problems. Sometimes, I thought it was okay to undermine my parents’ authority because Ariel went against her dad and got Eric for it. I thought that Ariel is great and I should definitely listen to her. As I got older, I realized Disney movies were incredibly flawed. Instead of helping girls, they are ruining girls. Disney princesses gave girls things that other movies or shows could not. Hope. They showed us that they lived happily ever after and when we were younger we thought—we could too. Disney movies are all fun when you are a child but then when you grow up you feel asinine that you could follow their example.

Sadly, children are raised to believe that anything can be for sale. Their desires and wishes are what will make them content. They believe that these things are more sacred than relationships—which are truly valuable. They grow up to believe that people who provide them with these desires only love, respect, and want to see their happiness. This is not always the case. In fact, Disney has a disconsolate chronicle of cultural stereotypes. More specifically: the extremely challenging female classifications and narratives. We have Snow White, the innocent servant to her evil stepmother. Followed by Aurora from Sleeping Beauty—who is comatose for most of the movie and ends up with her true love. Then of course, Ariel giving her voice up for the love of her prince. An author by the name Peggy Orenstein said that princess culture used to be about fairy tale magic, but it is now “a constant narrowing of what it means to be feminine.”

There are many people out there in the world who wish that The Disney Princesses franchise would go far away. That will never happen because it is by far the fastest advancing brand that Disney has ever created. Soon, it will be the largest girls’ franchise, if it hasn’t been already. A lot of people despise the term “Princess” because it depicts a very limited version of femininity. Because of this, it has a massive control on how young people view themselves—culture will never be the same because of the Disney Princesses.

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How Disney’s Princesses are Bad Role Models. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
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