Friday, May 21, 2010

How Do I Look?

I'm concerned lately about the rampant marketing of Disney princesses.  I often hear children talking about princesses, drawing pictures of them, wearing clothes with images of the princesses, singing the songs, and more.  While some of the latter princesses seem appropriate role models (Belle, Mulan, Pocohontas) many are sleeping, figuratively or literally, until their "prince" rescues them and they get married.  Poor Ariel is only sixteen when she gives up her life for her prince (plus, the original story was "disneyfied" with a happy ending).  In the princess movies there is also generally an evil, older woman who is mean and gets what she "deserves."  I'm sure millions of feminist papers have been written on the subject.  Regardless, are girls buying into the blue-eyed, blond-haired, nice, pretty and passive image (Snow White was dark-haired, but pretty, nice, and a very good housekeeper)? A landmark study by Dr. Sharon Hayes and Dr. Stacey Tantleff-Dunn on preschool girls (ages 3-6) shows that the girls are very concerned with body image but the researchers attribute that to all media, not just the princess movies.  31 percent of the girls said they always worry about being fat, and another 18 percent said they sometimes worried about it (Hayes and Tantleff-Dunn;  University of Central Florida, 2009).  40 percent of the girls said that to be a princess you need to have blond hair and blue eyes.  Given the controversy, I would have a fair amount of conversation with my children about what actually makes for success and happiness, rescue fantasies aside.   


  1. Hi:

    Having had to wrestle with this same problem many times, I want to thank you for this post. Hopefully many parents will read it and take it to heart.

    You might be interested in how Pilar, over at the Montessori Matters blog, dealt with Princesses in her classroom. Look for the post labeled Royal Flush in her March postings.

  2. So true..I've been hearing I wish I had yellow hair or I'm prettier than you because I'm whiter. Uggh! I've always liked the Princess movies because of the music - couldn't care less about the story :) - but forgot that kids are more impressionable. We are definitely having the "talks" lately.