Disney DOs and DON’Ts: The Princesses

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As a product of the 80’s, I grew up loving Disney. Our family had the Disney channel, I’ve been to Disney World several times, and I  LOVE Disney movies. I love Swiss Family Robinson, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, but especially all of the Disney cartoons, conceived and created in the Disney drawing studio. I miss the good ole days of Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and (my favorite) The Little Mermaid. I love these movies! They are like time machines; upon viewing one I’m  reminded of the age and feeling when I first watched it. The music is always amazing and I usually cry happy tears at some point. What’s not to love?

Well, I’ll tell you what. Now that I’m a caregiver for young children I watch all children’s movies with a more parental slant to my opinion, and with that perspective comes a lot of questions. For example: what’s with the Disney princesses and the “daddy issues”? Cinderella? Dad’s deceased. Snow White? Dad’s deceased. Jasmine? Dad wants to marry her off to the highest bidder. Belle? Dad is an unstable inventor. Little Mermaid? Dad is a monarch with anger management issues. Without positive male role models in their lives, no wonder the Disney princesses are all getting married by their sixteenth birthday! Who knows what the little girls watching these are thinking!

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Watching The Little Mermaid for the hundredth time, I couldn’t help but wonder, did Ariel give up her life too quickly for Prince Eric? I mean, under the sea she is royalty, has tons of friends, great hobbies like treasure-finding, and a promising singing career; she’s got a lot going for her. On dry land all she really has is…Eric. What message does that send to young girls? That the first time you fall in love, you should relinquish your life, family, and friends? A definite DON’T. Maybe Eric should have learned to swim…

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Belle is a favorite of mine because she doesn’t get sucked in to the aesthetics of a person (Upon meeting the beast, it’s not even his appearance that is off putting to her, it’s more rooted in the fact that he held her father prisoner and is now doing the same to her.) and her passion for books is a great inspiration to young girls. She is more interested in gaining knowledge through reading and becoming a more interesting person than landing the right man and sees through Gaston’s handsome exterior to his inner meanness. She also doesn’t mind being considered odd by the townspeople; she’s confident in herself and doesn’t need the approval of the peanut gallery. Now that’s a DO! I also love the way Belle and the beast are friends first, a great foundation for a relationship. I think the montage of them reading, snowball fighting, and Belle teaching the beast to dance sends an important message, that you should know someone and have a foundation in friendship before you marry, and that your partner should challenge you and bring out the best qualities. In the case of Belle and the beast, she teaches him manners and to control his temper, and he teaches her to be patient and encourages her to read in his amazing library.

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Jasmine I have a bit of a bone to pick with. Now much as I admire her love of animals and the fact that she falls for Aladdin knowing that he is a “street rat”, I hardly think her midriff-baring apparel is appropriate for a teenage girl. And she’s scantily clad throughout the whole movie! = DON’T! I mean a crop top now and then is one thing, but come on girl, leave something to the imagination!

disney3Love the tiger, not crazy about the outfit.

Cinderella, I actually find to be one of my favorite Disney princesses. She’s polite, funny, hardworking, and loves animals. Her hourglass figure inspires a good body image to little viewers. Mostly I appreciate that at the ball she falls for the prince based on the fact that he is a cute, sweet guy, who loves to dance and sing duets. She doesn’t realize he is the prince at the time. She fell in love with the man, not the title, which instills the importance of seeking the right qualities and true compatibility in a partner, aka don’t be a gold digger. CinDOrella!

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Ugh and don’t even get me started on Snow White. Look, I love this movie and Snow White too! She’s gorgeous, has the good sense to stay out of the sun’s damaging rays, marvelous trilling singing voice, she can definitely hang with the guys(7 dwarves to be exact!), and she has her own spoonful of sugar method: “whistle while you work.” There are a lot of nice things to be said about Snow White in her DO category. But I must point out the one blatant, blindingly obvious DON’T due her: unrealistic expectations of relationships. “Someday my prince will come,”? Yes, Snowy I’m sure that’s true, but in the meantime, how’s about you leave the wishing well for a spell and get an education, maybe do some philanthropy in your kingdom? Then when you’ve become a well-rounded person, you can truly be ready for a healthy relationship. And one kiss, then marriage? I think we can all collectively shudder to think where we would be if that were true!

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All of the Disney princesses are special and admirable in their own way, and this post is all in good fun. Sometimes the escape into the ridiculousness of fairy tales is necessary to keep imagination alive, introduce romance, and bring fantasy into the kiddos’ worlds. I’m just sayin’, it’s up to parents and nannies to remind little gals that there is more to life than great hair and an inheritance, and that the most fantastic truth is that a gal can rescue herself!

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7 Comments on “Disney DOs and DON’Ts: The Princesses”

  1. Jenn says:

    Love this! You should read, “The Mouse that Roared” by Giroux

    • MissCheryl says:

      Thanks, Jenn-I will definitely check the book out! I am picturing the illustrations in my head right now so it’s possible I’ve read it. Glad you are enjoying! Now that y’all are in Florida are the boys begging for Disney World every weekend;)? Happy belated birthday-hope it was awesome!

  2. Oh my goodness, I never gave much thought to just how bad the message is in The Little Mermaid. It’s the complete wrong thing to do when you fall in love.

    • MissCheryl says:

      Yep, which is why someone should always be watching with the kiddos to say, “You know what? He’s cute but there are plenty of fish in the sea. And plenty who would adapt to your life and support your career.” 😉 It’s funny that as much as we all love these movies, because they are amazing, we can’t help but criticize the overall message-our duty as caregivers! Thank you for reading!

  3. Aspen says:

    I loved this post!! Beauty and the Beast was always so weird to me. Who wouldn’t fall for a dude with that has out of control back hair and kept me prisoner. Bell was just ahead of the curve. You know all those books she was reading in the library? One of them was actually 50 Shades of Grey.

    Homegirl was into captivity and S&M before it became mainstream.

    But seriously, what the what?!?! I took a class in college titled “Genders in Media” and we had an entire day dedicated to Disney Princess syndrome. No joke. Everything you brought up was right on the nail. But you forgot about Mulan. I think she may be the only DP who didn’t have daddy issues. Daddy Mulan was alive and she took his place in the army so he would live.

    As for Arial, don’t you find it odd that when she is on land she loses her voice? She gives up who she was and is no longer who she once was. Quite the metaphor if you ask me. All for a derpy looking guy who wore a white coat to his wedding. She only finds her voice again when Daddy comes to the rescue. So weird..

    I may just have a dirty mind, but have you looked at the picture you put up of Jasmine and the tiger? The sexual innuendo is out of control!!! Maybe you chose that one on purpose, but if you didn’t, it demonstrates your point even further.

    The worst part of all this is… I would totally let my unborn daughter watch these movies. I did and I turned out fine and you did too.

    Well done, Cherbie. Loved this post 🙂

    • MissCheryl says:

      Thanks Happy! You make some rather radical points as well( i.e. Belle as 50 shades reader etc. 😉 LOL! ) thinking this will be another sporadic series- Disney gives me so much material!!!!!

  4. […] Disney is caught in my good-natured crosshairs once again! Disney movies are rooted in entertainment yes, but also about bringing the family together for movie time, fun escapism, and the development of imagination. Why then, with all this purported purpose of unity and lightness (featured in some of the Disney films), are there so many pervasive themes of pitting people, particularly women, against each other? It seems that in a large number of our beloved Disney stories, it seems to reach climactic crescendos of Womano a Womano. I quote Tina Fey in the ultra-quotable classic Mean Girls when I say, “There’s been some girl-on-girl crime here.” […]


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