Sociological Images has an interesting recent post about deconstructing just what assets Disney princesses (or heroines) are allowed to have. It mostly boils down to women needing to use their Pretty Power TM in order to save the day (or more often BE saved). While some of the generalizations are very broad and the comments do bring some interesting discussions up especially regarding my favorite lady (Belle) it was a good overall conversation starter and thought-poker.
I’ll admit right here that I love watching Disney movies and love looking at the shiny colors of the princess product line. However, the concepts that the portrayal of these women brings up are worth discussing so I am enjoying that thread.
What is it about the idea that you must be “pretty”? In the movies discussed at Sociological Images the women are all very pale (if not all glaringly white), conventionally thin, symmetrical of face and smoothly complected. Browse a “how to draw Disney princesses” search results list and you’ll find that aside from a few variations on eyes and lips; these faces are all the SAME FACE.
In essence, the women are interchangeable. Add a few background details here (love of animals, something which brings the viewer a distinct knowledge of her “pure” motherly heart); add a few hobbies there (collects “human” items, reads (hu-yuck, she might be Book Smart y’all!)) and with just a change of wardrobe and makeup you have a Whole New Princess! I’m not sure where to go with the idea that these women (who are sometimes marketed as being Strong Role Models for their intelligence (books!) or rebellious nature (escapes Richness for a Day In The Poor Life!) or what have you) are really so very much the same. I feel Mulan breaks the mold a bit but perhaps that is just me enjoying the movie more. Is she just as much the same? Dresses as a man (because only Men Have Power other than that of looks) to fight for a cause, but ends up winning people over at the end thanks to…her personality? I don’t know. Maybe I’m not up to in-depth analysis this afternoon!
At any rate; do you have hopes for the upcoming Disney film with Tiana? While the beautiful, thin, partially “rebellious” but good-at-heart leading princess-y ladies may not be leaving the Disney line anytime soon do you think that you’ll still be watching? Are you ready for some NON-Princess action for women? A bit like Mulan only not afraid to be feminine AND rough and tough. Like a teen Dora before she was turned into a Pink Product Placement girl; going on adventures and living life without apology? Well perhaps I’m a fool for hoping for such things but I still hold out that glimmer of hope. (It is the same glimmer wherein I keep my desire to one day own a pony…)