How Messed Up Lessons From Disney Films Affect Us
Renaissance 1989 – 1992: It took 30 years for Disney to release another cycle of Princesses. When they did, they were praised by many who saw Ariel’s rebelliousness as the antidote to the subordinate, dreamy Princesses of the past (despite the fact that she gave up her home, friends, and fins, to get married to a fickle Prince, at age 16). This was followed up with Beauty and the Beast (where she falls for her captor) and Aladdin (where he keeps saving them from her f*uckups). However, the core focus of these scantily-clad Princess’s stories was, ultimately, to be sexy and win a wealthy husband — at any cost.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s only two options in life are the ones her father has laid out for her. An older, overweight woman (obviously, the villain) convinces her that to be sexually attractive to men, she should drastically change her physical appearance — so she does. The price is that she can no longer speak or sing (and singing was her greatest joy). No problem, as she has nothing of value to say, and the Prince clearly doesn’t care anyhow, since he decides to marry the mute Ariel.
So, in the end, she’s yet another tale of a girl being saved by a Prince. This time the Prince has a wandering eye (which he, of course, is not to blame for). The moral of the story is that giving up her family, home, biggest talent, and everything she knows was totally worth it because she is now owned by, and totally dependent on, a man (ie. –yay– happy ending). After all, it’s not as if he would have ever considered living under the sea with her.
Before Ariel trades in her voice for a pair of legs, Ursula sings a song to convince her to give up the goods. This gem of a verse seals the deal:
“You’ll have your looks, your pretty face
And don’t underestimate the importance of body language, ha!
The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes, on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man.”
Beauty and the Beast: She saves a Prince’s life — not with her wit or strength (because she doesn’t have either of those things), but with her only asset: her sexuality. Proving that appearances don’t matter; what matters is what’s inside your heart. Unless you’re a girl, of course.
Aladdin: As a 15-year-old girl, her only worth was her marriageability, and the longer she waited to marry whomever her father demanded, the more trouble she caused. She ends up enslaved by a powerful man and is only saved by marrying a shallow and possessive man pretending to be rich (who refers to her as a prize to be won, and repeatedly assumes she must be shallow). “A liar who agrees that I am only a rich, hot prize to be won? GO JUMP OFF A BALCONY! Oh, you have a magic carpet? Never mind, let me hop on that!”
Lesson: Give up everything and make your life revolve around marrying a rich man. Then, the rich man will give you money and therefore fulfill your dreams. Oh, and always wear bikini tops to be sexy.