I Don’t Want my Child Watching That!
“Disney princess fulfills every little girl’s dream of becoming a princess!”(Espia 2012). As this magazine tries to get more subscribers, it’s frightening that fairy tales dominate the imagination of young children. Fairy tales are stories that teach readers a message and are part of our daily lives. Fairy tales such as Disney princess movies teach children the negative stereotypes of girls, reinforce racism, and expose children to sexism.
“More than 200 million people a year watch a Disney TV show ever week, 212 million listen to Disney music, records, or tapes,” (Giroux 19). Therefore, that means thousands of parents, librarians, and teachers buy and read these fairy tales to children. Fairy tales may be a bedtime story or teach children how to read and write but these stories are affecting children’s minds.
In today’s society, we wonder if there is a stop to this feminist action of princesses. “As with most literary genres of children’s literature, the fairy tale was never told or written explicitly for children, nor is this the case today,” (Oxford University Press 2006). Fairy tales change over time because people don’t want to pervert or destroy children’s minds. For example, there are over 700 versions of Cinderella according to, Sheldon Cahdan, in The Witch Must Die.
Walter Elias Disney or known as “Uncle Walt,” has changed these original fairy tales into racial stereotyping. Gary Gentile says that Disney is anti-Semitic and racist in New Disney Bio Focuses on His Genius. Disney wanted absolute control and he was disappointed with his studio’s animation. Since his top priority was his animation for the company. After 46 years later, Disney has improved in making women more independent, strong, and etc. These fairy tales for children have been read, censored, and approved for Disney. But Disney stories still have R images and the rating is still G.
Disney princess sexism has been going on since 1937, when the first Disney princess movie came out. Snow White was portrayed that her sexuality was a threat to another women. Her only asset is her physical beauty and that’s what saves her in the end. Snow White is simply a housekeeper and nothing more to the seven dwarfs. All the dwarfs see her as someone who cooks and cleans for them as she waits for her prince to come. And that’s all she’s been dreaming of.
This sexism continues in 1950, with the next Princess Cinderella. She lives with her two evil step-sisters and step-mom. She does all the cleaning and makes outfits for the rest of her family while she gets nothing in return. At the end of this fairy tale, she is saved by the prince from her terrible living conditions. The only reason why he saves her is because of her beauty not because she’s a hard worker. At the end she achieves happiness when the prince sweeps her off her feet.
In 1991, the sexism doesn’t end. The next princess movie is Beauty and the Beast. Belle is a pretty face and has undying love that saved the day rather than her brain. Her asset is sexuality like most princesses. In one part of the movie the character Gaston tells Belle it’s not right for women to read because she starts getting ideas and thinking. At the end of this fairy tale, she magically falls in love with the Beast even though she was captured the entire time. Then, the Beast turns into a human and she gets the prince she’s been waiting for.
The princesses that were just mentioned have one thing in common; they’re all white. It was only 1992 when the first princess of color appeared. That first princess was Jasmine in Aladdin. It was 1995 when the first American princess of color appeared; that princess was Pocahontas. Then in 1998, Mulan was created. It amazes me that after five years it took another 11 years for a black princess to appear.
All of the princesses resemble some kind of sexism and feminism. These princesses have beauty, the prince they’ve been waiting...
Cited: ASNews. Graphic Design Degrees, 2009 Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Cashdan, Sheldon, “The Witch Must Die.” How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives. New York: Basic Books, 1999.
Espia, Leslie. “Disney Princesses.” The Philippines’ Leading Magazine 2012.
Gentile, Gary. “New Disney Bio Focuses on His Genius.” AP Online (2006): Newspaper Sorce Plus. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Giroux, Henry A. “The Mouse that Roared.” Disney and the End of Innocence. Maryland: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 1999.
Nusair, David. About.com. Hollywood Movies, 2012 . Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Oxford University Press. “Fairy Tales and Folk Tales.” Jack Zipes. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. Oxford Reference: 2006. Current Online Version. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Tanner, Litsa Renee; Haddock, Shelley A.; Zimmerman, Toni Schindler; & Lund, Lori K.
(2003). Images of couples and families in Disney feature-length animated films.
The American Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 355-373.
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