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.

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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 in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. 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 brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 46 Comments

  1. Elsa Gomez

    Classics such as Aladdin and Cinderella showed us how happiness is better than wealth but at the same time being poor also sucks. I mean, Cinderella’s life was much better when she got to go to the ball…

  2. Kim Asunciom

    Hello. I totally agree with this. I hadn’t thought of it until now, but WOW.

  3. Sasha Smith

    I bet to agree! That is so not okay… Disney has been making it look so natural for teens/ girls to be married to some charming handsome heroic princes. Its like girls cannot do anything at all. She just needs to sit there, be pretty and wait. WAIT and wait. I mean, Girls can run the world, Disney!

  4. I used to love Disney when I was little — I’d never thought about the messages in it! I must say, I really love how your articles take an issue that’s right in front of my face and yet I still can’t see it clearly, and articulate it in a way that shines a light on it. Thanks to Urbanette, I’m no longer blind to how I’m being manipulated!

  5. Jackie Lewis

    Disney movies are typically enjoyable and tend to be instant classics, none of these films are immune to that. I know there are some people who say “it’s just a cartoon, get over it,” but for some women, these works are what they based their idea of what women should be like. I think there is nothing wrong for little girls (and women) to enjoy these movies, but their families should be conscious of making sure they know that they should be valued for themselves and not just their marriageability, sexuality, or physical appearance.

  6. This is so sad. We see the wrong with Disney films when we grow up.

  7. Sylvie

    When I was younger it was all about Pocahontas. I watched the movie a countless number of times, I dressed up as her, and had sheets with images from the movie on them. I think the reason I admired her character so much then and now is because (at least as she is portrayed in the movie) she has several striking feminist qualities. She is a free spirit, bold, brave, a leader, and community oriented. Perhaps she does fit into Disney’s physical standard so they don’t get a 10/10. However, the ending stands out from the other DPC plots because she chooses her family and her duty to her community over her “prince”. Oh and ALSO I am annoyed that she is rarely considered to be a Disney Princess- her father it the chief which should translate to king but I guess according to Disney you’re not a REAL princess if you scrape your knee one in a while. In retrospect, I think Pocahontas may have significantly contributed to the feminist person I grew up to be.

  8. Jennifer McSween

    Very true, Hilary! Have you noticed the secret / hidden sexual details in those movies? Check the wall of Boo’s room in Monsters Inc for example. There’s a drawing on that wall… Dropped my jaw… A shadow of teenage girl performing sexual acts in the Toy Story…. So many other examples. How are these supposed to be children’s movies?

  9. Joel Bonpensiero

    Leave the princesses aside. Let’s talk about Monsters Inc. Some big old monster creeps on little girls in their closets. A whole movie made base on that terrible scary and pervy idea… And it’s made to be seem innocent and cute. Come on people! Wake up.

  10. Ingrid Winston

    What surprises me more is that there are still people who try to defense these movies even after reading these facts. Speechless!

    • Jeff

      It’s a frickin’ cartoon, get over it. Nobody cares except people who make a living pointing these things out. All three of my daughters grew up watching all of the mentioned shows and they all grew up to be strong, educated, self-reliant women. I think that the fact that we never steered them to be anything except what they wanted to be allowed them to be their own persons, stupid cartoons not withstanding. They were no more affected by Cinderella’s simple mindedness than we (all parents) were affected by Wylie Coyote’s proclivity for violence.

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