One day, my prince will come!

It always amazes me how many responses I receive on a blog post that mentions the Disney Princesses. My only guess is it’s because so many of you grew up watching these films at a time when Disney really started marketing the princesses as something aside from the actual film. When I was younger, the characters were not marketed nearly as much as the film, itself.

Given that the first Disney store opened in 1987, many of you were about to hit your toddler years just as the store’s influence and number was kicking it into high gear. Thus, these characters became a huge part of your childhood.

So to offer equal attention to the Disney princes, I found this little gem this morning:

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14 thoughts on “One day, my prince will come!

  1. I did a post criticizing Disney for sexualizing the animated Amy Adams character from the move Enchanted. Since then, I get a dozen hits a day from people looking for “sexy Disney princesses.” It’s creepy.

  2. Michele says:

    it makes perfect sense. Because the princesses ARE sexualized. sadly. They may be trying to include diversity among their princess characters—Mulan, Pocahontas—but the more diverse they try to get, the more skimpy and sexual the images become.

  3. I wonder how Disney’s latest hand-animation film, “The Princess and the Frog,” plays into this. Based on the past movies and stereotypes they depict, the prince can’t be too different from the other ones (“rich, charming, famous, and good-looking” – well, in this case “potential to be good-looking” would be a more appropriate description.) It’s also important to note that Princess Tiana is Disney’s first princess of African-American descent. I haven’t seen the movie – so I don’t know if the diversity/sexual theory definitely applies, but I’m willing to bet it does – but Michele, can we study the Disney princesses next semester? I think this is something a lot of students would find interesting. It’s especially disturbing that the first movie was released in 1987 (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”), and the newest film (2009) reproduced the same images and messages.

  4. Michele says:

    Carrie, this is horrible. I actually took three of my nieces to see this latest princess film…and I don’t remember any of it. I so easily removed it from my little file cabinet of memories in my mind (to fill that drawer with SVU episode titles, I am sure).

    And yes, I think we should cover the princesses since you all seem so sucked in. Even tho Stephen says I am ruining his childhood. I’ll find some critical pieces for us to read.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I love this! Michele I think you should teach a Women’s Study Course on Disney Princesses, or at least a freshman seminar (that would be looking for a writing colleague…*hint*).

    But in all seriousness, I think in society we tend to overlook the impact messages have on men. There is literature and propaganda everywhere criticizing various aspects of our childhoods because of messages sent to young girls and women. This proves that while some little girls cried themselves to sleep at night because they weren’t blonde and thin like Sleeping Beauty, some poor boy didn’t talk to the girl on the school bus because he was scrawny and couldn’t keep up charming conversation like… yeah the Prince’s names escape me… Actually that is a point in itself- is the broad title “Prince Charming” also indicative of the sweeping similarities between Disney Princes and “ideal men” in real life? The name isn’t important (aka individuality) as long as the qualities “charming” “rich” and “famous” add up?

    Carrie’s point about Disney’s underlying messages remaining consistent up to the present is very unsettling. You have to wonder if Disney was hypothetically not around when we were children … would we view things in a drastically different way? Or would similar themes that show up in folk tales and other fairy tales have been as strong an influence without Disney as a commercial machine? I don’t know what to think.

  6. Liz Liebman says:

    Having grown up watching Disney movies, it’s hard to sever my attachment to them. At least now, as I watch them, I can see the awful messages that they send about gender, race, and class.

    In November this year, Disney and Pixar are releasing “Tangled”– their version of Rapunzel. Ironically enough, this film was supposed to be title Rapunzel until Disney released “The Princess and the Frog” which did not do as well in the box office as they had hoped. They believe it is because the movie alienated young boys. Their reasoning? (At least, they aren’t supposed to.)

    To appeal more to boys, Disney and Pixar renamed “Rapunzel” (clearly, too girly for boys to want to see) to “Tangled” and increased the role of the ‘prince’ (who is not really a prince, he’s actually a bandit).

    I don’t know how to feel about this. I think it’s a shame that a lot of Disney movies revolve around the ‘prince coming to rescue the damsel in distress’ because of the messages they send to children about gender (and race in Disney’s case with maybe three protagonists who aren’t white). And I do think that a lot of Disney movies appeal more to girls than boys because girls are supposed to like princesses and boys are not. I think it’s great that Disney is trying to appeal to boys, but at the same time, by trying to appeal more to boys, they are just reinforcing rigid gender roles.
    AND, the only reason that they’ve created a stronger male character into the movie is to make more money.

  7. Liz Liebman says:

    ahhhh, the hyperlink got messed up. After ‘Their reasoning?’ it’s supposed to say: “Brace yourself: Boys didn’t want to see a movie with “princess” in the title.” with the link.

  8. Isabella Comstock says:

    I’m really into the discovery channel and they had something on at one point that was all about people and the biology of how they are attracted to others. There was one experiment that these people did and they brought around pictures of men that they had analyzed against one another on a numeric scale. The men who were most attractive were given a 10 and least attractive a 1 (but i believe the lowest number was a 3.something). The pictures were then shown to women who rated them themselves….the men with the higher numerical values were found more attractive by these women than the ones with the lower numbers – pretty straight forward. They did a second round factoring in the economic status of the male. The men with the higher numerical values for attractiveness were given low paying jobs and the lower rated men were given great jobs. The finding, that the men who were typically less attractive but who had better jobs were rated, on average, several points higher than the more attractive men with poor economic standing. Their conclusion was that women, when deciding on a long term suitor, choose a man who has acceptable genes and the means with which to provide for the family that the woman wishes for herself. Its naive to think that people don’t consider the lifestyles they envision for themselves in the future when considering a mate…this also doesn’t mean that women cannot be the breadwinners in a relationship but it was only analyzed with women judging men.
    Thus in relationship to Disney, its not completely outrageous that the man of someones dreams would be financially able to support the woman seeking a suitor. It also supports old fashioned social norms of the extreme upper class in that they prefer to marry within their economic and social means or above. We understand wealthy families to want to maintain status and prestige, especially on a king or queen scale.

  9. Yanli Guo says:

    Will this world be perfect when all your partners (princes) are good-looking, rich, charming and even famous? I believe this is a dream for many women out there. Unfortunately, these people only appear in the cinema, it’s too difficult to find one in real life. Usually, most popular Disney animated movies tend to have a happy endings. The reason is that they want the audiences to leave with smiley faces and a fantasy minds that they might be able to meet their princes someday and live happily thereafter. Many people will go back to those types of feel-good movies in the future. If companies want to sell more tickets, they better find ways to please their viewers. 

    Let’s pause a second and try to be real for a minute. Will the above 4 conditions guarantee happiness for the rest of your life? Are those the most important things for a love relationship? To be honest, I loved many of these animation movies a lot myself. After watching them, I will wonder how my future partner will look and wonder how will treat me in the future. Personally, I will choose inner beauty than a pretty face. It will definitely last much longer and produce more delightful moments in my life. Of course, different people will have their own formulas when selecting their princes. For me, I will focus on realism and find ways to encourage my prince to love me more each and every day. I am a silly girl, still searching for eternal love. Peace!

  10. Sylvie says:

    Unfortunately, Disney put some wrong images of the ideal men into a woman’s mind. She has always expected her prince to be exactly like the typical Disney prince: rich, charming, famous and good-looking…
    But after a while she has realized that those “princes” are really just superficial and fictional creations of a movie world. Well, welcome to reality! This is the world we are really living in: We get up on our own, because who wants to wait 100 hundred years just to get one kiss?! And we sleep in our own beds and use our own dishes, because we don’t settle for an uncomfortable life some dwarfs would like to put us into. We earn our own money and we also may have a baby in the mid-thirties.
    But how come? Because Disney should have told us the truth!!! Namely that one day she will recognize that there is more to life than just awaiting the rescue of prince charming. She saves herself by recognizing that there is something out there called emancipation, with which many men are not able to cope with. That is the point where the prince gets confused and loses his track which role to play anymore. As a result, that makes her independent and him helpless or even useless. Right now, he is just charming and just good-looking.
    To be honest, no woman would ever wait 100 years for a guy anymore. (Maybe in some cases they might do so, but then “the prince” has to be really rich and really famous!!!)

  11. Sheba Morgan says:

    Disney is too cliché for me. I never thought about the Disney princes before. I always thought about how weak and needy all the princesses were. However, this can be because I was a girl raised with a lot of brothers and never really thought of myself as weak and needy girl, the way they are portrayed in the movies. I hated watching Disney because I never wanted to be the dumb princess who always needed to be saved. Looking at the male role in Disney cartoons can put a lot of pressure on men. No one purposely wants to be the weak one in a relationship but it is very difficult for a man to accept being dependent on someone else.
    Today it is more accepted for women not to be dependent on men. However, it is not very accepted for a man to be dependent on women. When men are young they are told they have to be the saviors. They have to be rich, charming and good looking. It is very difficult for men to accept it when their wives are making more money than them or when they have to be dependent on someone else. From when men are boys they are told their duties as a man, they are put at the top of the steps because they are men, they are told who and what they are suppose to be because they are a man. Women have to work hard to get to the top of the steps, while men are just born there. Women have to defy everyone expectations to reach the top of the step but a man is already at the top because of his anatomy. Now when a man has to depend on someone else, it is like he fell down the steps. He was just dropped off of the pedestal that he was given in life. Men are sore, bitter and jealous when they cannot fulfill the expectation they are suppose to have. They want to be everyone women prince

  12. I used to love Disney Princesses. (Not gunna lie, I still watch Disney channel…and love the Little Mermaid.) I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with allowing little girls to want to grow up to be princesses, I think it’s a phase that every little girl goes through. If that’s not their thing, than that’s fine. I don’t think children should be pushed to like one thing or the other. I have a problem with the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein (I have yet to read the whole thing). What I hear about it is that this woman believes that Disney Princesses/the Princess phase is something that’s going to change her daughter forever. I say, if her daughter likes Disney Princesses when she’s five, it’s pretty improbably she’s still going to believe she’s going to be a princess when she’s, let’s say, 18. I just think the parental crusade against childrens books/TV/movies gets a little more extreme than it needs to be. Everything in moderation. If her daughter is becoming overly obsessed with Disney princesses, well, introduce something else. Introduce books about girls that aren’t princesses but can still change the world they live in. Historical books, maybe. But I don’t think Disney is on a mission to corrupt all the worlds children. A scheme to get them to spend their parents money, maybe. But letting little kids believe that all dreams are possible, they can grow up to be a princess…those dreams are okay sometimes, I think. I bet there are a lot of people out there that would like to go back to when they were children, just to have one more day of being able to play dress up or astronaut, etc. I used to love Disney Princesses. (Not gunna lie, I still watch Disney channel…and love the Little Mermaid.) I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with allowing little girls to want to grow up to be princesses, I think it’s a phase that every little girl goes through. If that’s not their thing, than that’s fine. I don’t think children should be pushed to like one thing or the other. I have a problem with the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein (I have yet to read the whole thing). What I hear about it is that this woman believes that Disney Princesses/the Princess phase is something that’s going to change her daughter forever. I say, if her daughter likes Disney Princesses when she’s five, it’s pretty improbably she’s still going to believe she’s going to be a princess when she’s, let’s say, 18. I just think the parental crusade against childrens books/TV/movies gets a little more extreme than it needs to be. Everything in moderation. If her daughter is becoming overly obsessed with Disney princesses, well, introduce something else. Introduce books about girls that aren’t princesses but can still change the world they live in. Historical books, maybe. But I don’t think Disney is on a mission to corrupt all the worlds children. A scheme to get them to spend their parents money, maybe. But letting little kids believe that all dreams are possible, they can grow up to be a princess…those dreams are okay sometimes, I think. I bet there are a lot of people out there that would like to go back to when they were children, just to have one more day of being able to play dress up or astronaut, etc.

    http://peggyorenstein.com/books/cinderella.html

  13. kristalongo says:

    hahah omg this is so true! i never really got that idea from the disney movies i’ve watched but after seeing this and looking back, i realize it! every disney princess is rich and gorgeous! every prince his fantasy girl, who is perfect and charming! it really isnt like that in real life though. you don’t have to be rich an beautiful to get the man you love! disney movies always show the best situations and portray that message above! its so not true at all though. any women can get her one man even if she’s poor and not so attractive. its personality that matters and how you treat your man! disney should start to make movies like that so that every little girl thinks shes going to be a princess when she gets older!

  14. Jacqueline Murphy says:

    I love Disney and I still do, with that being said it does not put a positive light onto how men are going to rope women into falling in love with them. It is clearly represented in the picture that men need to be rich, be famous, be good looking, and be charming. Without these things one needs at least trick a woman into thinking that you have these things or will one day have these things. I don’t know if young girls will actually believe this and use these ideas as guidelines for finding a future husband because that may be crazy but some people might. You never know. After a while these movie get a little annoying and repetitive but that is what Disney is all about, drilling their thoughts into your head. We do things ourselves women don’t need men to rely on men to do everything for them. We can earn our own money so therefore we don’t need a rich prince. No woman needs to be rescued by a prince and the fact that Disney portrays this idea means that young girls need to be saved in order to have a successful life. This idea is not a good idea because we don’t live in a society where this happens anymore. In the early 19th century women often times did not work so they needed a man in order to support their family.

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