What Disney Princesses taught me

I came across this today-

A reading of what Disney princesses teach girls

Sure, I have considered the rather un-feminist implications of a lot of the princess story lines before. But I’ve never really sat down and thought about it. My reaction to this picture was to think that I could see how these readings were plausible, but that for me, reinforcing hetero-norms is not the first thing I think of when I see the princesses (which is odd, cos that’s basically all I see in everything).

Okay, on the surface they all want their prince to come, etc, etc. And they’re all feminine and beautiful, and fairly non-diverse (until Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tia cracked the scene). While I distinctly remember adoring little mermaid Ariel growing up, my mum loved Ursula, and was pointed to note that not all short-haired plump women were actually sea witches. Looking at the older princesses (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella) compared to the newer ones, there is a marked difference between their representations. Princesses have had a lot more ‘tude since the 1980s.


I went back and watched Colours of the Wind from Pocahontas. It reminded me that, wait a minute, these chicks kicked ass in these movies. The prince thing was always just a distracting part of the story line for me, and I barely remember the prince characters. While the princes were all pretty generic (charming, rich, handsome…*yawn*), the princesses had exciting lives, amazing magical friends and, most of all, adventurous spirits. But, I guess that’s why it’s kind of depressing when they all end up “settling down” in the end.

No doubt, you could write a feminist tome deconstructing these animations (I’m sure they’re out there). Still, I can’t help looking back fondly at the Disney Princesses I grew up with. And I’m really not waiting around for my prince to come. Why? Sorry, too busy exploring the shore above, painting with the colours of the wind – I want much more than this provincial life, I want adventure in the great wide somewhere….