How Messed Up Lessons From Disney Films Affect Us - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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How Messed Up Lessons From Disney Films Affect Us

A startling look into the lessons embedded in Disney films.


Unless you were raised by wolves, chances are you grew up enthralled with Disney Princesses. You most likely had a favorite Princess and maybe even dressed up like her, enacted scenes from your most beloved movie, and awaited your Prince Charming.

But recent speculation about the Disney Princess effect suggests that we may actually have been better off raised by wolves. To truly understand why Disney Princesses can be so detrimental to a girl’s development, we must first understand the three main cycles in the Disney Princess franchise:

Classics 1937 – 1959: This era of Disney Princesses included the movies Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. The Princesses in these films were subordinate, gentle, quiet, beautiful, caucasian, and took the backseats to their own stories while they awaited their Prince. In other words, they were seen and not heard, and prized for their beauty alone.

Pretty girls don’t even need to be conscious to get some hot Prince action.

The older (and therefore supposedly less attractive) women were cruel. They were filled with jealousy and hatred, all because of the competition for the one perfect (and rich) Prince’s affections. Now that I think of it, The Bachelor TV show mimics many aspects of this theme.

How Messed Up Lessons From Disney Films Affect Us

Snow White… the whiter the skin… the younger the girl…

Snow White: Her 14-year-old burgeoning sexuality (and snow white skin) is a threat to another woman, so she’s killed. Her only asset, her beauty, is what saves her in the end. At first, it may seem terrible, being so beautiful that other women get jealous enough to try to kill you. But don’t worry, once your beauty attracts a man, he’ll protect you.

Cinderella: This 19-year-old blonde is saved from terrible living conditions, not by hard work, but by a Prince. He does this, not because her personality impressed him, but because she is young and beautiful. So, ladies, if you’re young and beautiful enough, don’t try to work hard or develop yourself to get out of a bad situation. Instead, just rely on your beauty and let a rich man save you.

So beautiful, she can snag a rich guy to save her without uttering a word.

Sleeping Beauty: Betrothed at birth to solidify a political position, she is then killed by another woman out of jealousy and spite. Her owner… ahem… fiance, saves her with a kiss, showing that pretty girls don’t even need to be conscious to get some hot Prince action. Again, sex is her only salvation. Oh, and she got only 18 lines of dialogue in the whole film.

The Princesses were seen and not heard, and prized for their beauty alone, always in competition with nasty older women for one Prince’s attention.

Overall Lesson: Youth trumps all. Older women are always less attractive (even very beautiful women) than teenage girls, and that makes them bitter. You don’t need a personality to win the best man. The most important thing in life is to beat our other women for the richest man’s affections.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 96 Comments

  1. Kenya Cordova

    Frozen is overrated now but I really like that it was a love story of sisters. I think it was really important that Disney veered away from the usual princess x prince thing. I want to see more family or individuality in Disney movies and I do believe that it’s getting better now. I think we could also assume that as times are evolving, Disney princesses are evolving as well. We’re not stuck like the old times. Think of it as a way of moving on from the past too. I think it’s safe to say that the Disney princesses are worthy of watching now.

  2. Betty Whitmer

    Little Mermaid must be the stupidest of them all. He hasn’t even talked to the prince nor gotten to know him yet she disobeyed her father and made a decision that nearly cost her life.

  3. Karen Smith

    Disney is for entertainment, people. Don’t take it too seriously. It’s just right that we don’t lose our heads for such topic because it doesn’t deserve our attention.

  4. Jewel Byars

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m now bothered by how the prince really did kiss Snow White without her permission. Even Sleeping Beauty! The image of small waists wasn’t an issue to me because it’s just drawings. But then I don’t want little girls to misunderstand the act of consent. Nowadays, it’s extremely important to know that a kiss can go great lengths if misunderstood… Even in cartoons, I would often talk to my daughter about kissing scenes. It might be too early for such discussion since she’s just 8 but it pays to know what consent is at any age.

  5. Deborah Maynard

    I remember Pocahontas 2 being dumber than the first one.

  6. It’s only adults that create such rationalizations from a stupid cartoon.?

  7. My daughter was never a fan of Disney movies. When she was younger, she found the songs catchy but that was it. When she grew more mature for her age, I don’t think letting her watch Disney movies with princesses had anything to do with how independent or empowered she is. Maybe we should stop assuming that movies like this has a lot to do with how women grow up. We have to raise smart, independent and empowered children in order for them to be one. We teach them these things as a parent and never because of fantasy movies.

    • I totally agree with you. We can’t allow media to educate them. We have to educate them beforehand. Things like this start at home.

  8. People are acting so extreme about sexism and feminism and it’s starting to drive me nuts.

  9. The thing with Disney Princess movies is that it’s just a reflection of how life is back in that era. Let’s face it, it’s almost history that monarchy is almost the top priority to wed for women. Disney’s purpose for creating movies like this is to entertain, just like any other movies out there that talks about history, women were the same thing. These are things that kids watch and I’m sure in time they’ll understand that being a princess isn’t anything close to reality and so does a prince saving them from witches or evil queens.

  10. It’s true that I never really processed anything like that when I watched a Disney princess movie. It was nothing but pure entertainment for me but I wasn’t exactly interpreting it as deep as you want everyone to.

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