I knew it at eight years old and I know it today—Pocahontas rocks! As a kid I loved her because she rode in a canoe, climbed and talked to trees, had a pet raccoon, and followed her heart. Today I love her for all those reasons and then some. Not only is the 1995 Disney film artistically stunning, but its heroine actually shows viewers the importance of independence, intuition, and moral courage while the movie as a whole illustrates a sense of identity that extends beyond finding one’s “other half.”
Unfortunately, its profundity is undermined by its packaging. Pocahontas’s busty and leggy appearance does nothing to showcase the deeper themes of the film but rather draws attention to the importance of feminine physique. The lingering close up of her face when she meets John Smith further enforces the value of a woman’s exotic beauty in the eyes of a man as opposed to her character. Still, there’s much to celebrate about this flick so let’s take a look! Continue reading “Find the Right Path with Pocahontas”
Like a splash of cold water, 1992’s Aladdin presented a new kind of Disney Princess—one who was ethnic and wore pants! Before we get too excited, let’s remember: she’s dressed like a belly dancer with a twig-like waist, at one point she’s literally bound in chains, and she’s only a supporting character because (get this) Aladdin is actually about Aladdin. In many ways, Jasmine is a blatant example of an objectified, ignorant “little woman” whose value depends on marriage. But before we condemn her as the worst Disney Princess role-model yet, let’s look again. Actually, no princess fights against her “supporting role” more. Perhaps if we fought against the media’s unrealistic standards of beauty and other social injustices with the consistency and passion of Jasmine we might witness more progress. Continue reading “Fighting for a Whole New World”
The day I met Belle, I became a princess. Beauty and the Beast introduced a different kind of heroine. Unlike her predecessors, Belle didn’t have talking animal companions, didn’t grow up in a castle, didn’t have fairies to help her, and she wasn’t a mythical creature. No, Belle came from a small town, lived with a loving parent, and was quirky, sassy, and smart. Suddenly every average Jane (or Megan) with her nose in a book, who didn’t fit in, and who felt she was meant for something more had a Disney princess that represented her. What’s more, she inspired every girl to look beyond the surface to see true inner beauty. Did Disney finally create the perfect princess? Continue reading “Belle: The People’s Princess”
Disney’s Cinderella: a simple rags-to-riches romance that has influenced decades of young girls and women to dream of their own “happily ever after” complete with Prince Charming. The “sweetest story ever told” seems to perpetuate the idea that salvation from life’s hardships comes through marriage and that finding “Mr. (or Mrs.) Right” transforms one from ordinary to extraordinary. However, considering the movie again, Cinderella actually illustrates a quest for sisterhood and ultimate self-actualization (a sense of oneself as a whole individual). Cinderella’s efforts prove fruitful while her stepmother and stepsisters fail. Cinderella’s recipe for success? Respect, hard work, patient giving, and independence based on a solid sense of self-worth. Continue reading “Cinderella’s Secrets to Success”
Childishness, optimism, and naivety pepper the character of Princess Snow White. Her voice is high-pitched; she faces crises “with a smile and a song,” and repeatedly trusts the intentions of strangers. She also enforces unrealistic ideals of beauty with her pore-less skin, unnaturally red lips, and perfectly coifed raven hair. On the surface, Snow White seems hard to embrace as an empowering role-model or representation of women. However, a closer look at the film and this particular princess proves just the opposite. Not only is she a strong figure for women to uniquely emulate, but she’s a role-model for men and women alike.
Continue reading “Lessons from Snow White”
As many are aware, I have a strong interest in feminism and promoting progress of thought regarding gender roles. I believe men and women can and should see themselves as unique, capable, and complete individuals. At the same time, I have a passion for the artistry and magic of Disney, specifically Disney Princesses. As I became more engrossed in feminist study during college, I saw a clear divide between my two loves. Disney Princesses are often seen as dangerous examples of female stereotypes and unrealistic beauty. I recently pondered the reasons I admire Disney Princesses and discovered it wasn’t for their physical beauty but for the strength of character they uniquely illustrate. I came to an important realization: society chooses what media images represent. That said, I’ve begun to re-watch each Disney Princess movie in order to rewrite what each character could represent in our culture. Instead of taking everything at face value, I think it’s important to plunge beneath the surface of all things. Let’s discover together what these timeless women truly show about man and womanhood!
I will revisit each Disney Princess movie in chronological order and post a new article shortly after viewing each one. Watch out for your favorite Princess (we all have one) to see what you can learn from her!