Issue 6 Magazine Women's History Spread

Stereotypes in Disney Movies Affect Young Girls

By Caroline Johnston

Almost all young girls look up to their favorite Disney princesses as people they wish to be like. However, the standards of a Disney Princess are extremely unrealistic stereotypes, and unobtainable for a human. Disney imposes these stereotypes across a majority of its female characters. These women are engraved into young girls brains, and can cause immense damage to their self-confidence and body image in their adolescence and adulthood. 

Almost all young girls look up to their favorite Disney princesses as people they wish to be like. However, the standards of a Disney Princess are extremely unrealistic stereotypes, and unobtainable for a human. Disney imposes these stereotypes across a majority of its female characters. These women are engraved into young girls brains, and can cause immense damage to their self-confidence and body image in their adolescence and adulthood. 

In almost all Disney movies women must change themselves in order for men to love them. A prime example of this is in The Little Mermaid when Ariel gives up her voice for legs to be with Prince Eric. This is very disturbing because Ariel believes that she doesn’t need to express her personality, only her looks to charm Eric, and it works. This greatly demeans intelligence because it shows young girls that they can get whatever or whomever they want with looks not smarts, just like voiceless Ariel got Eric. Putting beauty above personality is a major fault in our society, but when young girls are terrorized by the unrealistic beauty standards held by their idols, there is no question as to why our society is the way that it is. 

Another stereotype in a majority of Disney movies is that dreams are achieved by magic rather than hard work. An example of this is in the movie Cinderella, where abused maid Cinderella miserably dreams of attending the royal ball. Rather than breaking away from the strict rule of her step-mother and working to get what she wants, Cinderella waits until a fairy godmother shows up and saves her from her misery. This imprints the idea into young girls brains that they should wait for their problems to be solved by magic or luck, rather than achieving their goals by themselves. 

Another flaw in Disney is the narrowly defined happily ever after that occurs in just about all of their movies. This, of course, is marriage between a woman and a man. Examples of this are in Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Aladdin, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Princess and the Frog, etc. If a child sees that the happy ending for all of these Disney princesses is marriage, than they are very likely to strive for the same thing. However, marriage is not the only way to be happy. Happiness can stem from friends, hobbies, a job, etc. 

The whole aspect of a Disney fairytale is damaging to young girls across the world who strive for the life their favorite Disney princesses get to live. Skinny waists and luscious locks don’t get you a happily ever after like kindness and hard work.

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