Mar 20, 2011  •  In Claire, Entertainment, Movies, Parenting, Personal

The Evolution of Disney Princesses

I have a friend who swears that if she has a daughter, she will limit the girl’s exposure to fairy tales starring princesses and damsels in distress. She firmly believes that stories such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty teach little girls to be submissive and weak, not be self-reliant and always be in wait for a prince charming.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this friend when I saw this chart showing the evolution of Disney princesses over the years:

(via Miss Cellania)

There’s no question that Disney’s heroines have changed with the times. And while I believe classics such as Snow White will always remain classics, I can’t help but wonder how a story like that would be received if it were to be produced today.

I personally would allow Claire to be as pink and frilly as she desires. J and I are actually hoping that she grows up to be a tomboy, but I would not be opposed to her watching/reading these old stories. And if she ends up becoming a girly princess-type? I would not be upset or disappointed.

What do you think? If you have girls, would you be worried about their exposure to older Disney movies such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty?

8 Responses to “The Evolution of Disney Princesses”

  1. I was just thinking about this. I have a 5-month old daughter, and of course my sisters and I grew up on Disney princesses but I’m not so sure I want my daughter to see the older Disney movies. But how can I keep her from Snow White and Cinderella? It feels like Disney princesses are everywhere in Little Girl Land. Won’t she end up watching them at a friend’s house, since they are on the “safe” side of all the kids’ movies out there? It’s going to be tough.

  2. Tekla C:

    I love fairy tales. I plan on raising my kids on them. Of course Disney changed what fairy tales were ment for – teaching and guide the audience (both children and adults). But when it comes to if the fairy tale movies are good or not, that depends on what you get out of the movies themselves. Media says that the lessons are old fashioned and not healthy for our young women. We need to teach them to be strong and independent and not rely on men. What people don’t realize is that both in the movies and the traditional tales, the morals are based on the time they came from. Any Disney movie, be it the princesses or other live action movies show the same type of morals and social expectations for the time it was made. I once took a fairy tale class and the biggest thing I took out of it, despite it being taught by a openly proclaimed feminist, is that the stories tell people (children or adults) on how to best live. If a woman wants out of the control of her parents and have her own power, find a guy that will take care of you. If you want to gain your fortune, go on an adventure.

    Links below with books and other articles on how fairy tales are good for enforcing self esteem, curiosity, and many different virtues.

    Many experts also have claimed that fairy tales are much more better than other fluff media.

  3. I grew up on Disney movies, Cinderella being my absolute favorite… and I don’t think I ever felt like that was how I was supposed to live? I attribute that to parents who NEVER let me think I could do less because I was a girl, nor suggested that a guy would fix my problems. I fixed cars with my dad one day and sewed dresses with my mom the next.

    I think I’ll approach it the same way with our future kid(s)… they’re stories. Fun stories, that I still love at age 24, but just stories. Real life is what matters, and real life mentors/examples trump stories.

  4. Zoe:

    I would let my future daughters watch them…they’re CLASSICS! Whether traditional 2D animation will stand up to the glitz and glamor of 3D animation in their eyes these days is a different story though… :P My friends and I grew up on the older Disney movies, and I don’t think any of us are particularly submissive and weak. There’s more to shaping their personalities than what they gather from movies. :)

  5. You know what’s interesting about those earlier Disney movies? The villains are all women. That’s worth considering as well.

  6. Girls are MUCH more influenced by the real women around them then by Disney characters and Barbie for that matter. I watch my niece dress up as Snow White all the time but have no doubt that she will grow up to be a strong independent woman.

  7. I’ve got to agree a little with Kate – what I remember taking away from Disney movies was: don’t blindly trust anybody offering you anything. (Unless they have a truly compelling reason to be your advocate, but even then… be suspicious anyway.) That may have led to some slightly antisocial behavior (I wouldn’t talk to strangers AT ALL) for a bit til I got sorted out.

  8. Emily:

    I think they’ve got to be exposed to things to learn whether they’re bad or good or in between, so I wouldn’t keep her from seeing them–they’re beautiful movies with beautiful music and it’s just up to us to raise our daughter into someone who doesn’t identify with the helpless princess idea. She might as well know about it, though, especially since she’s going to meet plenty of people who do…

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