Princesses aren’t so perfect

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.

Urusula from “The Little Mermaid”

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.”

Ariel on the left is the way Disney created her, on the right is how she would look with a real waistline. Morelli wanted to look like Disney’s Ariel all her life. Maybe if Disney made Ariel look like the picture on the right, Morelli would be happier with her body.

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?

Jasmine the way Disney created her, and Jasmine with a real waistline.

If you want to see more Disney Princesses with real waistlines click here!


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


Be a man, man up!

The concept of body image is an ever-changing notion that a person must look a certain way, for society to call them beautiful. Today, the media is obsessed with displaying pictures and videos of women who are generally very skinny and often employ the use of image doctoring to get their point across. But what also seems to be under the radar for much of society’s attention, is the ideas and perceptions of male body image. While women are expected to be thin and have larger breasts or thicker hips, men are often expected to have a very athletic ability, preferably tall and muscular. In a sense, many females are usually trying to lose weight, while many young males are trying to gain weight through muscle mass. Even characteristics such as the size of a man’s genitals are taken into consideration when determining how much of a “man” someone is. It’s not uncommon that negative characteristics of personality in males, are sometimes attributed to having a small penis.

 A website called My Body Gallery for Men is a blog dedicated to sharing stories about body image from the perspective of men. While there are indeed submissions from overweight men, one striking difference from the women’s section is that more submissions in the men’s section are about looking older, bigger and being heavier. One submission titled, “Small Guy with a Big Heart,” is a brief window into the experiences of a 29 year-old man and his struggles with body image. I found that I was able to relate to a lot of his experiences such as being asked for a identification when purchasing items he was old enough to buy (such as alcohol at a bar). He later writes, “I joined this site so that smaller guys can understand that some of them won’t gain mass (like many advertisements say) and they should appreciate what they have and not be dissapointed.”

         Upon reading the nameless authors post, I found it striking how at a glance, he seemed physically large but in reality, he was very thin being 5’-8” and weighing only 119 lbs. I find that many males in my generation can relate to working out at the gym and taking lots of supplements and protein rich foods to gain muscle mass, or even to replace fat with muscle. But what really strikes me is that he, a third year nursing student reveals the fact that some men will just simply not be able to gain large amounts of muscle mass such as himself. He notes as well, that, “I also want the bigger people to understand that it’s equally difficult to become smaller.”

 In the past 20 years and beyond, the millennial generation of males will often see media that depicts males with chiseled abs and large muscles often times these images depict these men as essentially being dominant. As such, young men are often quick to boost the perception of their masculinity through boasting about how much they can bench-press. This begs the question, why are young boys so concerned about their not-yet fully developed bodies being so different from what they see in the media?

 Aside from the media, another source of perfectionist body-image ideas may come from a young man’s family and friends. The phrase, “man up” or “take it like a man” build upon the idea that a young man needs to not only be strong, but burry his emotion and mask pain with bluntness. Such pressure creates feelings of inadequacy and can lead to even extreme attempts at trying to fit society’s idea of manliness. A study conducted in 2012, published in the Journal of of the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that 34.7% of middle—school and high-school aged children used protein supplements and 5.9% reported steroid use. Most behaviors were significantly more common among boys. The study later concluded that the sharp increase in recent years is a major cause for concern by pediatricians.

 While women have certainly been under a similar scrutiny for years, especially younger women, the point here is that everyone is a victim of the media. It is without question that women standing up to the media’s hypocrisies are indeed a victory, but why is it that the male audience remains silent? Growing up, I myself questioned if any male could have ever questioned what we saw. Do the expectations society holds have such a profound influence, that one cannot simply “man up” and talk about it?



Eisenberg, M. E., Wall, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2012, November 19). Muscle-enhancing Behaviors Among Adolescent Girls and Boys. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


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Curvy is not “inadequate”.

For some women, an extremely lean figure is just not in the cards. McCall Dempsey just happened to be one of these girls.  She has written a blog all about her journey through life and through beating her eating disorder.  From discovering and admitting to her disease- to overcoming it.  Her blog is titled “Loving Imperfections” and her story is incredible.

Throughout high school, McCall was ridiculed and embarrassed because she was not considered “skinny enough” or “pretty enough” based on society’s standards.  This led her to develop an eating disorder- first anorexia, and then bulimia.  She kept a food diary, a workout journal, a weight journal, and an overall diary.  McCall stated that this disease consumed her life and took away some of the best times of her life.  Finally, she realized that she could no longer succumb to society’s pressures and checked herself into a treatment facility.  She is now healthy, happy, and has one of the top health blogs according to Health Line.

McCall has several blog posts about her previous body dissatisfaction and reasons for it.  Staring at unbelievably thin models in magazines and looking up to skinny, beautiful celebrities definitely had an impact on her self-loathe.  In addition to her story, McCall’s blog led me to the National Eating Disorders website, which has “Stories of Hope”.  These stories are personal narratives of those that are recovering from eating disorders.  In several of the posts, women described themselves as “curvy” or “big boned”, which made them feel inadequate or “fat” due to what many people believed to be beautiful and skinny.  The media has convinced the population that thin= beautiful.  The insane and unattainable figures of men and women in the media have convinced people that they need to push these standards on to their own bodies; no matter the price.  As media becomes more and more popular all over the world, disordered eating is also becoming more prevalent. Coincidence?

Several studies have been done over the years that have shown a strong correlation between body dissatisfaction and mass media exposure.  Body dissatisfaction is then shown to cause eating disorders.  One research study conducted was a longitudinal study on adolescent girls that had barely been introduced to television.  Three years after the researchers made television become a part of the girls’ lives, it was recorded that “11.3% of the girls in the sample had confessed to vomiting with the goal of controlling their weight,” (Lopez-Guimera, Levine, Sanchez-carracedo, & Fauquet, 2010).  Once television was introduced, it was also found that 74% of the girls reported feeling fat and the percentage of girls with high leveled disordered eating attitudes more than doubled from 13% to 29% (Lopez-Guimera et al).  It has also been found in other research studies that girls who frequently read articles about diets and weight loss in beauty magazines are seven times more likely to practice unhealthy weight control behaviors. These same girls studied were also six times more likely to engage in “extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors (Utter 2003).

It’s no secret that the media affects culture and opinions in the public.  However, should we give media the right to make us feel inadequate and unsatisfactory?  Curvy is just as beautiful as skinny is; the media does not get to decide this. McCall’s story of overcoming her eating disorder and making the decision to feel beautiful again is an influential story that we should all be reflecting on and taking into consideration.  Her story and the stories I read in “Stories of Hope” really affected my way of thinking about media and its influence.  I will no longer give media the authority to make me feel inferior. McCall helped me to realize that beauty is something that cannot be seen, and definitely cannot be defined by the media.



Lopez-Guimera, G., Levine, M.P., Sanchez-carracedo, D., & Fauquet, J. (2010). Influence of mass media on body image and eating disordered attitudes and behaviors in females:   A review of effects and processes. Media Psychology, 13(4), 387-416.

Utter J, Neumark-Sztainer D, Wall M, Story M. (2003). Reading magazine articles about dieting and associated weight control behaviours among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health32(1). 78–82.