The idea of “skinny is beautiful” becomes ingrained in children’s minds at such young ages. Disney Princesses could be one reason for this phenomenon. All of the Disney Princesses that are beloved by the world are are tall, skinny and beautiful. From these Disney movies, many young individuals learn that the only way to receive a boy’s attention and be happy is to be beautiful. According to the portrayals in these movies, being “beautiful” is defined as being thin. Rebecca Sternberg wrote an article about “the Disney Effect” and talks about the fact that the first six Disney princess that were created were all slim, tall. beautiful girls.
Research shows that girls expressed greater body image dissatisfaction scores after they watch Disney Movies. In all of the fairy tales that we have been told, the heroic prince and princess are always portrayed as beautiful and “good”, however the evil characters are perceived as ugly and mean, (Asawarachan, 2013). In most of the Disney movies, the beautiful characters are never shown to be “bad”. Disney characters help to uphold the stereotype of “what is beautiful is good” (Bazzini, Curtin, Joslin, Regan & Martz, 2010). Ursula from The Little Mermaid, is an evil octopus who tries to steal King Triton’s throne. Her character is not only ugly, but is also fat. This just reinforces to children that you will only be liked if you are skinny and beautiful.
Joanna Morelli, a junior at James Madison University, shared with me her view on Disney’s portrayal of princesses. She stated that Disney princesses give children an unrealistic expectation of beauty and said, “I’ve always wanted to have Ariel’s body. Even in middle school I was still convinced that was the perfect body.” She then went on to tell me how she believed Disney Princess movies contain many bad values, therefore will not allow her children watch these movies in the future. These movies have many negative impacts on young children- especially when it comes to body issues. Lastly she says, “In order to get a realistic view of body image, people need to distance themselves from media and movies. Coming to college has definitely helped me broaden my views.”
The influence of these princesses on individuals all over the world is immense. Personally, I have always wanted to have the body of Jasmine. Not only is she pretty, she also is skinny and powerful. Until recently, I have never really noticed how much these beloved Disney Princesses and Princes affect individuals. If just Disney movies can have such long lasting effects on girls and women, what other negative influences are there that we do not even realize exist?
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Bazzini, D., Curtin, L., Joslin, S., Regan, S., & Martz, D. (2010). Do animated Disney characters portray and promote the beauty-goodness stereotype? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(10), 2687-2709. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271773/m2/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf