I was obsessed with Disney’s princesses throughout my whole childhood. Just like most children, I grew up under their influence. I idolized them, followed their actions as an example, and aspired to be them. Many, including myself, don’t see anything wrong with it, as they are just your typical amusing fairytales. Their job is to entertain the youngsters and give them a harmless little peek into the fantasy world.
However, if we take a look at Disney’s adaptations of the most famous tales, the division of gender roles cannot go unnoticed. There are many instances where men and women are portrayed quite stereotypically, some would say.
Nevertheless, in the last decade, Disney’s stories seem to have evolved towards a more equal representation. Male characters are no longer given a dominant hand, and female characters are granted more and more self-reliance and resilience than ever before. Let’s see how they have changed.
In the early Disney movies, the princesses are presented in rather a fragile state. For instance, let’s take a look at Cinderella and Snow White. Despite the innocent romantic plots of the stories, the way in which the heroines are represented is not the greatest. The authors have given them very little action and not enough independence.
21st century princesses
In the 2000s, a change has been spotted. After the release of Pocahontas, Disney tries to implement elements of feminism in other stories as well, among which are Mulan, Moana, and The Princess and the Frog.
In 2012, Disney broke some conventional norms with the animated movie Brave. Merida lacks any lady-like quality and her appearance can hardly be associated with a princess. Her tomboyish behaviour, impressive archery skills and lack of manners expose her to constant criticism, but they truly outline her fearless personality.
Most of our precious childhood memories involve Disney movies one way or another. Following generations will keep growing up with them as well. Building male and female heroines bias-free sounds like a good solution. However, opinions about how a Disney princess should be build will always be divided because everyone perceives gender roles in a different way. Some put their adult goggles and overanalyze them, while others believe they should be left aside and be looked at as nothing more than children’s stories. There is no right way, but only a perspective.