I am going to begin my blog with a few questions: If you asked a little girl what they wanted to be when they grew up, what would they say? How about what they wanted to be for Halloween? Or the theme for their next birthday party?
The vast majority of little girls I know would say something along the lines of “Princess!”, as I know I would have as well.
The Walt Disney industry is more than just a company, it is something that every child will inevitably be exposed too. When I was younger, I loved Disney movies. The magical stories, the pretty princesses and gorgeous dresses were something that appealed to me. The simplicity and accessibility of Disney made it very easy to enjoy.
Today, I still love Disney movies. They are a huge part of my childhood and watching them brings me back to those days. However, after being in Gender Studies 125 , I have been exposed to the numerous subliminal messages that Disney is sending out to their audience, and how it is affecting our perception of gender, race and pop culture.
(Found at: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/disney-princess/images/21448208/title/hidden-messages-photo)
Above is a picture that clearly demonstrates the messages Disney is sending to its audience through the “celebrity” princesses that are idolized by many girls throughout their childhoods’ all over the world. Disney implies many gender roles that girls and boys should have, as well as other hegemonic messages such as what it means to be “feminine”. Disney also socially constructs how girls and females should be viewed and how they should act through the actions and lifestyles of the characters in their movies.
As seen in the photo above, the message associated with Snow White in the Disney movie Snow White is: “At first it may seem terrible, being so beautiful that other women get jealous enough to try to kill you. But don’t worry, once your beauty attracts a man, he’ll protect you”
This message is implying that there is a hierarchy to beauty, instead of encouraging that every girl is beautiful in their own way. There also is an association with violence, and the means that girls will go through to be the “most beautiful of them all” (as seen in the movie with the witch who tries to kill Snow White with the poison apple). Lastly, the message is implying that all you need is to be beautiful to attract a man, and nothing else matters. In reality, many other things matter and are attractive to men such as personality, knowledge, hobbies etc that don’t seem to be of great value in many Disney movies. Men are also seen as the “protectors” or the “prince charming” who will always save the damsel in distress which removes the emphasis of power and independence off women and creates the image of dependency.
Secondly, the message associated with Belle from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast is: “Appearances don’t matter, what counts in what’s in your heart. Unless you are the girl.”
In the movie Beauty and the Beast, Belle is held captive and abused in the Beasts castle, however sees through the “beast” and falls in love with him. Girls are always supposed to be graceful, skinny, and express their “femininity” in order to seem attractive, and in this movie, this is not the case for the male. In addition, the movie also involves captivity and abuse, but the princess still falls in love with him and forgives him. This sends the message to young girls that males are dominant over females, and implies where the power is held.
I found this photo very interesting, and very truthful as to what Disney is demonstrating for young children. Disney princesses, and the movies as a whole, serve as role models for children and send messages that only continue to alter and mold their perceptions of their roles as males, females, and members of society.
So, even with the subliminal messages and impact on our perception on social construction, gender, race, pop culture, gender roles and many others, it looks like Disney has built an empire that is continued to be supported by our population. With the help of the media and advertising industries, Disney has truly built a “Magical World” that is far from the real world we all live in today.
I am going to finish off with some questions for discussion: Can you imagine a world without Disney? Would you be a different person today without growing up immersed in the “Magical World of Disney”? Do you think that Disney should alter their over sexualized, feminine and unrealistic princesses into more accurate figures? Would this change be accepted by society?