How Messed Up Lessons From Disney Films Affect Us
This study didn’t just focus on how many words the characters said, but what was said as well. They analyzed compliments, and here we see a positive trend. During the Classics stage, the female characters received 55% of compliments based on their appearances and 11% based on their skills. In the New Age era, female characters are complimented on their appearance 22% of the time and on their skills 40% of the time.
With the most recent batch of Disney Princess movies, the dialogue trend has been reversed. Frozen, Brave, and Tangled have been more judicious about the speaking roles between the genders. This newest cycle features Princesses who are independent, talented, and are often the drivers of their own narratives. In fact, in a dramatic change of events from the earliest Princesses, these modern ones often save the men. In Frozen, the traditional love story is turned on its head when true love is revealed to be the love between sisters.
But Disney could still very well be f*cking us up. A major motif in the feminism of today is unrealistic body image, and Disney does very little to address this. Impossible body proportions in Disney Princesses, and this study found that the ratios of women’s bodies to men’s in modern Disney movies reinforce the sexist notion that women are beautiful only when they are impossibly thin, with delicate caucasian facial features.
Look, I don’t think we should lose our heads over Disney Princess films. After all, these films are meant to entertain and little more. That being said, children aren’t capable of understanding the potential effects it may have on their self-image and, clearly, internalize these sexist messages. So what’s the answer? As it often boils down to, being aware and educated, and voting with our dollars is really the best we can do.