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Many
people remember Cinderella for her billowing blue dress, tiny waist, and golden
hair; while many others remember her as being weak and unassertive that a group
of male mice literally had to step up and help her out until she finally found
a husband. Although Disney movies such as Cinderella are generally regarded as “innocent family
entertainment” (Malfroid, 4) by many parents, it could be frightening to
discover to which extent the scenes, repeatedly viewed over many years and many
generations, could have had a bad influence on generations of young girls and
their personal conceptions on issues such as sexism. For what if the content of
the Disney movies is not so innocent after all?

            The famous Disney princesses, like
Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty),
Ariel (The Little Mermaid), and Jasmine
are all labeled as “damsels in distress” setting women back more than 100 years.

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These princesses have been role models to little girls ever since Disney
created them. At a young age, girls used to and still dress up like them,
feeling like royalty and waiting for their “Prince Charming” or “Knight in
Shining Armor” to find them and protect them.

            Cinderella, at the time of the
release of the story, was described in Look
in the following terms: “Like most Disney heroines,
Cinderella is… ‘the typical American girl.’ She is
cute, lively, of medium build, weighing around 120 pounds – and with a tender heart for boys and animals” (Davis 226). Disney opted for a blue-eyed heroine, with a blond
pony-tale and a fringe, sultry eyelashes, pursed pink lips and fine facial
features. The fact that her original dress for the ball was pink further hints
at her resemblance to a Barbie doll. Cinderella’s fairy
godmother, like a concerned grandmother, permits her to charm the prince, but
is still expected to be home on time – at 12
o’clock – and
not to give in to the Prince’s
attempts to kiss her. Cinderella is shown as a sexual object to be looked at by
men. Is that how mothers and fathers want their little girls to be treated as?
Probably not, but they still buy the DVDs and Cinderella’s dress as a costume for their kids.

            “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” The Evil Queen’s key question is familiar
to many, as is the answer. Snow White, along with the other older heroines is
portrayed as a beautiful girl, and the mirror in the movie describes her
appearance as: “hair as black as ebony,
lips red as the rose, skin white as snow”. Snow
White’s character is rather “child-like” and her voice in the
movie sounds like that of a young girl, in content as well as tone. In the
Disney version, Snow White is said to be around fourteen years old, meaning
that she was the youngest of the Disney princesses. Snow White runs away from
her home because she had to escape the Queen. A group of friendly animals then
lead her to a house inhibited by seven dwarves. The house that the dwarves were
living in was messy dirty, indicating that it isn’t men’s job to clean after themselves and do their laundry. As soon as
Snow White enters the dwarves’ house,
she started cleaning it. This means that Disney showed that women’s only job is to clean after men. The moral of the story is no
feminism.

Parents still buy their daughters Snow White
costumes and replicas of the magic mirror, and some girls think of Snow White
as a role model, when in reality she is a weak, lost teenager who is taken in
by the dwarves and cooks and cleans for them while they are out mining.

            Aurora,
who is also referred to as the “Sleeping
Beauty” had a curse placed on her when she was born.

She is in a deep sleep for most of the movie when the curse is placed on her,
indicating that she has no significance in the plot of the story. As for her
personality, Aurora is called “sweet” and “all of her subjects adore
her”, however, she is also seen by many as a
passive and unchallenging character. Aurora’s
physical features resemble that of a Barbie, long and flowy blond hair, she is
extremely thin with long skinny legs, with a figure of an hour glass. Her body
is covered by her traditional long dress, which abides by the fashion of the
fifties. Her neck is covered, and when she walks outside she wears a brown veil
over her head, once again, setting women back nearly a century. Her wedding
dress, converting from pink to blue to black, might emphasize her resemblance
to a Barbie doll as well.

            Ariel
is another example of a princess who still follows prevalent beauty ideals, but
is still represented as a sexual object. She still possesses the “porcelain skin tone” and “dainty physical features” of the
old heroines. Ariel’s clothes, nothing more
than a seashell bra to cover her upper body, enhance her status as a sexual
object. Even as a human, she wears dresses with a plunging neckline and bare
shoulders. All Ariel’s thoughts and actions are
revolved around men, she escapes to get away from her father to go to another
man, Eric, her lover. She gives up her most valuable talent, singing, just to
be with a man she met on land. Ariel is also said to be a Barbie in the form of
a mermaid.  

            Little
girls all over the world are looking up to these princesses and making them
their role models. Most parents turn to Disney for their kids’ entertainment, they buy them the books and the movies to watch over
and over again. On Halloween, the children dress up like these princesses and
act like them, when in reality, these princesses were pushed over by men their
entire lives, and every decision they made was based on men. The sexism
presented in the Disney movies may potentially cause long-term damage on a girl’s body self-esteem, ability to problem-solve, and interest in math
and science. A newly published research from Brigham Young University (BYU), found
that little girls who are regularly engaged with Disney princess culture were
more likely to adhere to damaging gender stereotypes. In fact, this trend can
spell trouble in the future later when girls later avoid learning experiences r
activities that aren’t perceived as feminine – or where they’re under the impression
that their life opportunities are different than a man’s. 

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