Feminism and Disney Princesses

Written by Cory Gross. Posted in Disney, Disney Movies, Features

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Published on July 01, 2014 at 2:00 am with 18 Comments

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As such a significant cultural force, Disney and their Princesses franchise serve as a touchstone for gender issues that more often than not reach far beyond the actual content of the films upon which the franchise rests. Perhaps you have seen images like the one above before, or read certain feminist analyses of the Disney Princess films that arrive at similarly negative conclusions. Unfortunately, when such analyses present themselves as being “feminist,” the resulting debate tends to focus on the nature and reach of feminism rather than more pedestrian concerns like whether the analysis is actually accurate to the source material. I am a proponent of women’s rights, freedoms and social and economic justice, so I do not intend to make a criticism of feminism as such. It does seem to me that, sometimes, the legitimate concerns of feminism can override clear-thinking and sound research when analyzing works of art like Disney’s animated films. What I hope to do by wading in with this article is nothing more than engage in the academic practice of closely and carefully summarizing the source documents – in this case the films – to determine whether these accusations are accurate without troubling to ignite a debate over feminism in-and-of itself.

Feminism and Disney Princesses

The easiest accusations to dispense with are those which apparently missed the entire message of the film and arrived at a conclusion opposite to that message. For example, the above image states that the theme of Aladdin is that Jasmine’s political worth is determined by her marriageability, which is true insofar as we’re talking only of her political worth and even then it is only true up to the denouement. The overarching and (what one would think of as the) unmistakable theme of the film is that one’s personal worth is determined by their character and not their economic, social or political rank. The Sultan does attempt to marry Jasmine off against her wishes, in accordance with the law of the land, which she actively rebels against. Jasmine goes so far as to flee the palace, whereupon she meets Aladdin, the thief who dreams of nothing more than being able to rise above his poverty and be afforded at least minimal human courtesies (though living in the palace would be awfully nice, he believes). After Jasmine is recovered and Aladdin comes across the magical lamp, he adopts the persona of Prince Ali Ababwa to woo her. For her part, Jasmine rebuffs his showiness and expresses absolute outrage at her father, Ababwa and Jafar discussing her fate without her consultation. It is only when she realizes that Ababwa is the same thief in the market that she softens to him. Jafar, the villain, also seeks the hand of Jasmine, but only for her political worth and her physical beauty. The villain is the one who degrades Jasmine, first figuratively and then literally after he acquires the lamp. In the end, when the villain is dispensed with, the Sultan realizes the error of his ways and changes the law to suit Jasmine. He recognizes the folly and disgrace of making his daughter act against her wishes, thus exercising his political power to enable Jasmine to marry the man of her own choosing, who himself has demonstrated that good character supersedes the merits of wealth and power.

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Here we note a common oversight in these criticisms of Disney’s princess fairy tales: ascribing to the films themselves the attitudes held by the villains. Against Beauty and the Beast the charge is levied that it’s what’s on the inside that counts unless you’re the girl. Belle’s own name means “beautiful,” after all. However, it becomes apparent that the message of good character superseding physical appearance applies both ways, not merely on the axis of good looks/ugly character vs. ugly looks/good character (the dichotomy of Gaston and the Beast), but also Belle’s struggle to have her identity and personhood respected in spite of her good looks. She longs to be seen as more than just a pretty face, to be loved for who she is rather than how she looks. His inability to do so is what dooms the egotistical, self-absorbed, intellectually-shallow Gaston. He values her only as an accessory to his own beauty and as a genetically sound pairing for the production of equally beautiful offspring. His pursuit of Belle is an exercise of his own all-consuming vanity. The idea that only her appearance matters is the viewpoint of the villain in Beauty and the Beast.

Another charge against the film that factors in this discussion is that the relationship between Belle and the Beast is an example of Stockholm syndrome. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin describes Stockholm syndrome in the following way:

Stockholm syndrome is a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein a positive bond between hostage and captor occurs that appears irrational in light of the frightening ordeal endured by the victims. In essence, eventually, the hostage views the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it… In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where the captor has stripped nearly all forms of independence and gained control of the victim’s life, as well as basic needs for survival. Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food, remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence. In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a mother figure protecting her child from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement’s deadly weapons. The victim then begins a struggle for survival, both relying on and identifying with the captor. Possibly, hostages’ motivation to live outweighs their impulse to hate the person who created their dilemma.

On a superficial glance, the situation of Belle would seem to reflect Stockholm syndrome. She becomes captive of the Beast and, somehow, turns to fall in love with him, even defending him against her would-be rescuers. This is not an interpretation that develops from an accurate understanding of either Stockholm syndrome or the film.

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Belle is not an involuntary hostage of the Beast: she is a voluntary ransom, exchanging her life for that of her father’s, and therefore a person whose captivity is an assertion of her own moral will. Though a voluntary ransom, she is not a victim. Throughout the early part of her captivity she staunchly resists the Beast and his threats, including a willingness to deny herself food and comfort, which is (as the FBI implied) ultimately a rejection of the Beast’s power over her. He may hold her physically captive but he has not subdued her spirit, and she will not grovel and beg to appease him. When she finally does eat, it is by the generousity of the servants rather pleading for the kindness of the Beast. At one point – in contradiction to the accusation that the film promotes staying in abusive relationships – she actually does attempt to escape.

Belle’s attitude towards the Beast begins to soften when it is he who begins to change in deference to her. What got the Beast into his predicament to begin with was his cruelty and vanity, not unlike Gaston, and so the solution is to begin reflecting the kind of good character that would make him lovable. As a token of his esteem for her, the Beast offers Belle his library… An acknowledgement of her intellect and passion for literacy. This is in marked contrast to Gaston, who wonders why a pretty girl even wants to read. In the end, it is easily apparent that, all along, it was Belle who held the true power through the quality of her own character. It is Belle who transformed the Beast.

If Beauty and the Beast does contain a fundamental betrayal of its theme, it is with the Beast being a pretty hot guy anyways, not with Belle’s being an attractive intellectual. A brutally harsh inversion of this theme can be found in Disney’s abysmal adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with the apparent message that ugly people don’t need companionship and can be perfectly happy assisting beautiful people to mate. Of course, no man is entitled to get the girl in the end, regardless of whether he is a nice guy or an attractive guy. There does seem to be a slight contradiction, however, in complaints that Belle is attractive while declaring that unattractive people (unattractive men specifically) are not “owed” anything. I have seen some criticisms object to the fact that Beauty and the Beast is a love story at all, offering instead the dramatically thrilling conclusion that Belle ought to have kicked all the guys to the curb and opened her own bookstore instead.

That provides yet another undercurrent to these criticisms, being a distaste for the fact that these are love stories and not something else. Here we can look at the example of The Little Mermaid. The above image asserts that the film’s message is that “It’s okay to abandon your family, drastically change your body, and give up your strongest talent in order to get your man,” which is a perfect storm of misinterpretation. The plot of The Little Mermaid revolves around the fact that none of this was okay and that changing her body and giving up her greatest talent to get the man was what she was manipulated into doing by the villain. Had there not been judicious intervention by the cast of characters at the end, Ursula would have taken over God-like, Cthulhuoid powers because of Ariel’s moral lapse.

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That said, there is a significant point of clarification to make, which is that Ariel was already a rebellious teenager with a fascination for the surface world long before she had actually met Prince Eric. Being with Eric does not provide her with a reason to change herself whole cloth: their encounter provides her with an impetus to act on ideas she already had. Her rebelliousness against the way of life in which she had been brought up, with all of the expectations and obligations of the royal court, and alteration of her body to pursue her own goals were expressions of her own growing independent will. No, Ariel did not make the best choices during this episode, which is part of the movie’s point. Nevertheless, they were her own choices to make. After the villain’s defeat, King Triton realizes that he can no longer dominate his daughter, as he did when he forcibly invaded her personal space and destroyed her belongings. He must let loose the reigns of both fatherhood and kingship to allow her to make her own way in life.

Whether or not it is a poor message to have a man be Ariel’s final impetus to pursue her own independent will depends on whether or not one objects to love stories as a genre. The Little Mermaid is a love story, and women do still fall in love with men even in our day and age, and vice versa. These sorts of stories are not entirely far-fetched, and so long as we carry the biological urge to couple for mating, they will not disappear. Granted that The Little Mermaid is a love story and not a different type of story, what do we actually see in the film? The critique suggests that Eric falls for Ariel simply because of her pretty face, but viewing the film makes it apparent that Ariel is still extremely expressive of her personality despite now being physically handicapped. In this case, the “feminist” critique carries an ugly undercurrent of ableism.  It is at the very least degrading to Ariel as a character, if not to women and the physically or developmentally challenged in general, to suggest that all they offer is a “pretty face” in lieu of a personality, independent will and good character.

What of Sleeping Beauty then? Aurora isn’t even conscious when the prince comes for her! This film is odd insofar as it deviates almost insensibly from the original material, either the fairy tale by Charles Perrault or the ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. In those, the titular princess does sleep for a considerable amount of time – a century or more – and the prince who wakes her has not even seen her before he arrives at the foot of her vine-entangled bed. The walkthrough attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim recounts the story of Sleeping Beauty in such a way that one may imagine Prince Phillip and Aurora being drawn together across the centuries by fate. Perhaps, when deciding upon the script for the film, Walt Disney felt that there was a narrative problem in the prince never even having seen the princess before he goes questing for her. Consequently, the pair share a chance encounter in the forest whereupon they sing, dance and conduct a conversation simply as two persons without any knowledge of their royal status or childhood betrothal to one another.

When the good fairies reveal that their Briar Rose is, in fact, Princess Aurora, she is actually distraught at the prospect that this could separate her from the young man she happened to meet in the forest. Prefiguring Jasmine and Ariel, Aurora spends at least a portion of her film not wanting to be a princess at all when doing so would prevent her from exercising her own self-determination. Nevertheless she goes forth out of duty and has her prophesied spinning wheel accident. When Prince Phillip comes calling on the little shack in the woods he is captured by the evil Maleficent, who reveals that the girl in the woods is the very princess to whom he is betrothed. Therefore, when Phillip escapes and battles to liberate Aurora, he already knows and loves her.

The magic of the cinematic montage does much to obfuscate the fact that the princes and princesses of Disney films actually do spend time together. Fairy tales do require a certain suspension of disbelief insofar as we have characters falling head-over-heels over mere days and hours, but there is also a dramatic necessity to not bogging the pace of a story down with deep conversation over hobbies, interests, life goals, values, and the practical, uncinematic things that go into building healthy relationships in the real world. Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella all condense these moments into a convenient montage which asks the viewer to fill in the gaps on their behalf. It is requested of us that when we see Aladdin and Jasmine, or Philip and Aurora, or Cinderella and Prince Charming strolling wistfully through forests and looking out over starlit vistas, they are also bearing their souls to one another. There is no reason to assume, based on the evidence, that these characters are pursuing each other on the basis of physical attraction alone.

Cinderella is an awkward case because, as a film, it actually does pass the famed Bechdel Test. Named for cartoonist Alison Bechdel who introduced it in her work, it is a feminist trope arguing that a piece of film or literature does not overcome gender bias if it does not have two or more women in it who talk amongst themselves about something other than a man. Unfortunately it is awkward due to the relationship these women share being one of domestic abuse against the one by the others. There is no easy male target or male foil in this situation. Of all the characters, it is Prince Charming himself who is the least realized, and Cinderella is not even aware that he is the Prince until after they meet.

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While it is easy to become frustrated with the Cinderella character for refusing to stand up for herself, one must consider that she is a victim of an abusive family life that has carried on since her childhood. She has not been equipped to assert her own independent will, and so she retreats to a hidden interior world of her dreams and relationship with the domestic vermin. Every attempt to actualize herself is crushed by Lady Tremain and her daughters, including a shockingly rape-like scene in which Cinderella’s step-sisters tear her ballgown to shreds.

At her emotionally lowest point in the film, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appears as a symbol of positive female empowerment. What she bestows on the physically beaten and psychologically victimized girl is not so banal as a pretty dress and a nice coach so she can go play dress-up at the ball and meet a handsome man. What she bestows on Cinderella is the gift of becoming someone else… To become a new woman, an empowered woman, a free woman who is able to pursue her own ambitions. This new woman woos and wins over the prince, but it cannot last. The time limit imposed by the Fairy Godmother is also symbolic of the fact that empowerment is not a gift that can be given, but a quality that must be grasped for oneself, for it is in the grasping that it is formed. Cinderella’s final victory is a result of her first and only self-empowered act in the whole film: when she emerges to seize her right to try on the glass slipper. It is at this point, in open defiance of her step-mother, that Cinderella liberates herself. Even if the shoe did not fit, Cinderella would finally be free to leave that house and never return.

As the first Disney princess, Snow White has elements of all of these issues. The film opens with young Snow having been subdued by her step-mother, not unlike Cinderella and Lady Tremain. The Evil Queen is obsessed with her vanity, not unlike Gaston, bearing within herself an ugly soul that eventually emerges when she adopts the disguise of the Old Hag. Snow White, on the other hand, is revealed by the Magic Mirror to be the fairest in the land as a reflection of her personality as well as her physical beauty. Whereas the Evil Queen can only inspire fear, Snow White’s strength of character inspires the love of princes, dwarfs, woodsmen and even the forest creatures. She is portrayed as having a resplendently lovely, optimistic, self-assured and determined personality. Shortly after running in terror through a darkened forest after narrowly escaping an assassination attempt ordered by her own step-mother, Snow White chastises herself for losing control of her emotions. Led to the dwarf cottage by the wildlife she befriends, she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work cleaning it, out of a sense of social responsibility to the children that she presumes live there. When she and the seven dwarfs discover each other, they work out an equitable deal for room and board. Growing closer over their brief time together, Snow is even able to win over the misogynist, misanthropic dwarf. Sadly neither the dwarfs nor the absent prince are able to save Snow White at all from the Queen’s wrath. Nevertheless, the nameless prince who fell for her at the beginning of the film is able to find her and break the terrible curse of Sleeping Death. Love for the one who could inspire such love wins out in the end. Physical beauty is not a virtuous goal of itself, and the single-minded pursuit of it can turn a person morally ugly. Rather, a virtuous character is what makes one beautiful.

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Clearly the image at the top of the article was created before the likes of Tiana, Pocahontas, Mulan, Rapunzel, or the Pîxar Princess Merida were added to the mix. I don’t think that these Princesses bring any new complaints to the table. Rapunzel, for example, is another iteration of Ariel, only this time without a sacrificial act that frees her from her juvenile state. Merida recapitulates Jasmine’s rejection of the expectations forced on her by her royal ancestry. Tiana and Mulan add in the theme of meaningful labour to achieve one’s goals. There is some debate over whether Frozen constitutes a legitimately “feminist” film, and I think it does depending on the definition being used. I will discuss why more in a coming article on male image in Disney, but suffice it to say now that Elsa’s motivations at no time feature a male character at all.

When it comes to these sorts of extreme edge of feminist criticism of Disney Princesses, the best case scenario is that they are simply wrong when one employs a close viewing of the films. In the worst case scenario, the criticisms arrive at conclusions opposite to the themes of the films and can themselves indulge sexism against women. In these films, the princesses are at least as fleshed out as the male characters, if not better. Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White all express strong personalities, excellent talents and attributes, independent will and self-determination that attract their respective princes to them, in addition to their physical attractiveness. To then reduce them to a mere pretty face is itself an expression of the sexist attitude that women only have their bodies to offer men. It is not present in the films themselves. Furthermore, absent from these criticisms are the conditions in which the princesses would be left if they did not pursue their own ambitions, whether or not they were directed towards a man. In The Little Mermaid, the alternative to Ariel fulfilling her own dreams is to subordinate herself to the father who invaded her private space and destroyed her possessions. Had Jasmine not sought to guide her own destiny in marrying who she wanted to, she would have been left to marry whoever was chosen for her. Cinderella would have remained in a situation of domestic abuse, Aurora would have remained asleep until the end of time, and Snow White would have been dead. This is above and beyond other inadvertent bigotries like the abelism I mentioned in respects to Ariel losing her voice.

How do these criticisms persist despite the fact that they are not coherent with the content of what they criticize? If I may play armchair sociologist, I suspect there are two main reasons. The first is that, as people of good conscience, feminists are usually active in other socio-political issues for which Disney is a readily available scapegoat: globalized corporate consumer capitalism, the critique of mass society, and the spread of homogenized American cultural imperialism. Feminist concerns are easy enough to throw into the anti-Disney hate cocktail, regardless of whether they exactly fit. The second reason is that feminism has crafted a certain “official” narrative regarding these movies that carries its own weight irrespective of their actual content. They have been deemed “officially” bad, and one would not wish to appear insufficiently feminist by challenging that designation. It brings Song of the South to mind, which does have flaws of which no critic is aware, because they haven’t actually seen it. They just know the “official” narrative that it is a racist movie.

Whether or not the Disney Princesses ought to be reclaimed as feminist icons of female empowerment is up to others. However, I do not feel that, upon close viewing, there is any serious justification for the view that demonizes them as negative role models for their legions of young fans.

Stay tuned to MiceChat for a second article in this series, examining whether male image in Disney films is unequivocally positive and acts to reinforce patriarchal power relationships. For now, please feel free to join in the conversation in the comment section below. Just remember that since this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments constructive and respectful to your fellow readers!

About Cory Gross

Cory Gross is a professional educator in the museums and heritage field, sharing his passion for history, science and art in his home of Calgary, Canada. He is also the creator of Voyages Extraordinaires, a blog dedicated to Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances and Retro-Futurism, which can be found at http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com.

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18 Comments

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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Those who outright complain about the Disney Princesses and “endlessly” complain about the message they send to little girls lack the intelligence to see the true meaning that you’ve described.

  2. Great article! Although I believe that you may have gone overboard in the other direction with some of these discussions, not so far that I feel compelled to criticize.

  3. If there is a Feminist criticism to be made about Disney Princesses, it’s less to do with the films than with the franchise. As Consumer Products, the Princesses are marketed only for their “girly”, stereotypically feminine attributes. The poses are all demure (and oddly come-hither-y) and they are (nearly) all depicted in their signature dress. The one exception is Mulan who is sometimes shown wearing her father’s armor, although when the movie came out she was only shown wearing the formal dress she wore to meet the matchmaker, a dress that she was incredibly uncomfortable in and couldn’t wait to take off. It is this image of the princesses, focused solely on pretty hair, pretty faces and (above all) pretty dresses, divorced from their true personalities and the messages of the films, to which I believe most feminists (rightly?) object.

    • I recall that this issue was similar to the one with Merida… How they wanted to sell her pretty princess image when the movie specifically showed Merida rejecting that role and that costume.

      I intended here to dissect the critiques of the movies and the roles of women in them. The body image stuff of the Disney Princess consumer products is another topic, and I think it lends itself to a more meta approach taking into consideration how Disney subjects all its corporate icons to a process of inoffensive banality, like poor Mickey Mouse (I LOVE the new Mickey cartoons for giving him back a personality) and Tinker Bell.

  4. ORDDU: My sisters and I totally agree with your final analysis in your article. The Disney princesses are merely fairy tales meant to entertain. They were never meant to be criticized, marginalized, over analyzed, etc., etc. For those who waste so much of their time looking for hidden meanings or negative messages from the Disney girls we say, “Let it go!” Just enjoy the fairy tales and stop trying to make them into something they are not. It’s just entertainment, people. No need for all the mess or stress…

    • I have to completely disagree with your assertion that Disney fairy tales and princesses are simply entertainment. As with any other past civilization, the art and stories we produce both embody and teach the values of our culture. They deserve attention, discussion and thoughtful critique. This does not mean marginalizing or trashing them at all—it means paying attention to the mythical narratives that surround and inform us.

      By all means, they’re also entertaining, so if it’s not your bag to analyze them, that’s fine. But please don’t dismiss them as insignificant.

      • **THIS**

    • …says the person who immediately denounces a star within a circle on Splash Mountain as definitive proof that Satanist CMs are spreading propaganda throughout the park?

      Irony?

  5. I always thought feminism was to give women power. My guess is the average Disney Princess at Disneyland can snap her fingers and fifty guys will spend their weekend helping her move furniture, or paint her apartment. Kind of looks like a lot of power to me…

  6. I just want to say that it’s great to read well-written analysis/critique of Disney narratives here at Micechat. There are so many interesting things to delve into in the Disney “metaverse”, and I’m looking forward to seeing more articles like this.

  7. Excellent article. I always had a hard time swallowing all of the vitriol about how anti-feminist the Disney Princesses were. I have a 2-year-old granddaughter who watches The Disney Channel where they have little shorts called Big Block Sing Song. They are all really excellent little bits, but my favorite is “I’m a Princess” and it is GIRL POWER all the way. I actually think Disney has addressed that better than any other entertainment entity out there.

  8. Cory, I really like this article, I wasn’t sure if Disney Princesses were of much interest to me (to read in a column -is what I mean) but I do like watching Little Mermaid, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast… I’ve heard several times, people talk about the princesses as if the message of the story is to be beautiful, or that being beautiful is what leads to a happy ever after. But you hit the mark perfectly with this column, the point of these stories is to show that the princesses win at the end because of their virtues and not because of their beauty… of course I WILL admit that all of them are unmistakably beautiful… but princess fairy tales -to my knowledge- have never been written about the average looking woman. There is a balance of pro-feminism and fairy tale appearance in these movies. Their beauty was meant to be a guideline for women, it was meant to be a reflection of what women like to see themselves as. Every woman in some way or another finds themselves beautiful or yearns to be what they consider to be beautiful, and the princesses appearances are just a reflection. Of course, like you said, viewers must take into account that the movies show the princesses to achieve their “happily ever after” by means of their talents, virtues and inner strength.

    Cory, I look forward to reading your column about the views upon Disney princes or men. Good job!

    • oh crap… I meant to say “their beauty was NOT meant to be a guideline for women…” oops, please forgive me for the typo.

  9. Cory, I appreciate you taking the time to write out a very well thought out article. However, I think you are not looking far enough into the issue. You take one macro and address the points made on it – I would suffice to say that most know exaggeration is used to get people thinking (ultimately the intended effect).

    I love the Disney Princess movies, but there is a lot to criticize about them. From Orientalizing in Aladdin and Mulan, white washing the story of Pocahontas… Same-facing female characters (Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa, and their moms all look exactly alike save for their hair and eye colors) while giving a males wide variety of body shapes and facial structures. It goes on, but I have work to do and I need to get back to it.

    Essentially, the image you focused your article around is easy, digestible feminist criticism for the masses. It was made on Tumblr, presumably to get girls to think (It first appeared about three or four years ago, if my memory serves me correctly). More in-depth analysis about the roles the girls play, the context in which they were written and animated, etc. wields far more messier critiques and more serious conversation.

    Like I said, I love the Disney Princess movies, but that does not mean that I have to be ignorant to their flaws. Disney movies that wrote female characters well? Atlantis, Princess and the Frog, Lilo and Stitch. Studios that write the best female characters in the business? Ghibli. Watching the lead female in a Ghibli movie and a lead female in a Disney movie and they’re worlds apart. Even Sophie, arguably the most “Disney-like” Ghibli girl, is far more developed and strong than any of the characters appearing on this list.

    • I absolutely agree that Ghibli’s portrayal of women blows anything by Disney… or any other American studio… out of the water.

      I picked this macro in particular to focus on because it seemed to nicely sum up a lot of popular perception of Disney Princesses, and it was that specifically I was refuting… The really superficial stuff like accusing Belle of Stockholm syndrome or that Ariel gave up her voice for a man, stuff like that. There is definitely a deeper conversation that could be had about, say, female body image in Disney, which is itself part of a much larger conversation on cultural beauty standards. That would have to include issues of male body image as well (i.e.: you are allowed to have a wide range of body types if you’re a male, so long as you’re a sidekick or a villain… princes all have idealized bodies). I actually talk about male body image and the roles available to men in Disney films in my next article.

      Anyways, yes, I agree that there is a lot of more in depth conversation that could be had, which was beyond the scope and intent of this particular article.

      • You’re right, and I shouldn’t have gotten on your case for addressing solely the macro. The deeper conversation is far more involved than can be covered in one article, and requires readers to have a thorough knowledge of a variety of subjects, especially intersectionality. Women of color have a very different context with body image and beauty than white girls – they needs to be a focus with beauty with these girls as white standards of beauty tells them their non-European features are not.

        I’m interested to read your post about male body image in Disney movies. Males have a lot more flexibility, and a lot of claims about males being shown “unrealistic standards of their bodies” are actually power fulfillment. This largely applies to video games and action movies that are marketed towards men, however. I haven’t seen much talk about males in movies marketed towards women, though. Just that women should be aware that that man doesn’t exist…

        One thing I think we really have to keep in consideration here is that, behind all the drawings, especially in the era of movies you covered in this article, men were making the character designs. Men chose how the women were portrayed (bad – men created the standard of beauty for women… they controlled the media, magazine, print, ads, etc.) and men chose how the men looked (neutral – men can choose to draw men however they please, as they are men). I hope that you write your next article keeping that point in mind.

  10. [...] Feminism and Disney Princesses This film is odd insofar as it deviates almost insensibly from the original material, either the fairy tale by Charles Perrault or the ballet by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. … Fairy tales do require a certain suspension of disbelief insofar as we have … Read more on MiceChat [...]

  11. Bringing this up, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about, and you might realize who I really am, but here goes. Last year, my roommate’s murderer went on trial. The defense had an expert witness (paid for by taxpayer money) to say the accused had PTSD and that she was an abused and battered. The defense’s strategies all backfired as the prosecutor was able to disprove and discredit the defense’s expert witnesses. One in particular had the theory that Snow White is a battered woman. This theory drew lots of criticism.