If you’ve been around the Internet long enough, you’ve probably encountered this argument. You know the one I’m talking about – the argument that Disney movies are actually terrible for our children to watch because they give such girls such a negative message about their self-worth. You’ve probably even seen this picture before:
Now, as much as I’ve mostly stayed away from rants on this blog, I’m afraid this post might walk that fine line today, because I just do not understand this mentality. In fact, I think it’s a total crock. Do you want to know what Disney Princesses taught me?
Here’s a quick list, just off the top of my head:
Be kind to animals
Stand up for what you believe in
Take care of others
Not to let other people’s negativity destroy your positivity
In the end, good really does triumph over evil
You can be a rich and beautiful princess, but it doesn’t count for anything if you don’t have love (even the love of friends like the dwarves or forest creatures)
Animals are a girl’s best friend
Believe in your dreams, and follow them, they really do come true (just not always in a way you expected them to)
Nothing is impossible
Magic is all around you, if only you take the time to look
Be true of heart
Everyone needs a little help sometimes (whether it’s from animals, dwarves, a fairy godmother, or yes, even a prince)
Just because you have a rough start, doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy ending
Family isn’t just the family you’re born into, it’s the family you create and the people you choose (The seven dwarves, fairies, animals)
First of all, in response to all of those complainers, I would like to point out that all of these qualities and lessons are WHY the princesses are beautiful – and the fact that the evil stepmothers and sisters and witches hold none of these qualities are WHY they are ugly.
Second of all, these stories weren’t even written by Disney, they were compiled hundreds of years ago, having been collected by The Brothers Grimm because they were studying folklore. In fact, they were passed down through the oral tradition (mostly by women!) before the average person had access to the written word. Obviously, ideals of beauty have changed since then, as have (thankfully) the roles of women in society – but certain things haven’t changed. Things such as morals, being a good person, and the idea that love conquers all. So instead, before we get so riled up, perhaps we should consider that the environments in which the movies are watched – the views and beliefs of the children’s families – might create more of an influence and in turn, define the type of lens their life is viewed under. In a happy, supportive household with good role models those “negative influences” won’t even be influences – because people will be too busy concentrating on the positive ones to pay negative ones much notice.
Spending energy focusing on it seems to only be making the problem bigger by bringing something into our children’s awareness that they should still be too young to worry about. I mean, who honestly remembers watching Disney movies as a child and thinking about such stuff? I certainly grew up on Cinderella and Beauty and The Beast – heck I still watch them today, and I don’t even have kids! – and yet I’ve never once felt as though I was being led to believe I needed to be a pretty damsel in distress in order to get a man to do everything for me for the rest of my life. (If anything, life has taught me the age old lesson that if you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself…and that men will only complicate the matter.)
Not only that, but it makes me wonder if these folks have actually watched anything from Disney lately. (Regular readers know that I definitely have.) If not, check out The Disney Channel’s “Pass the Plate” commercials – where they introduce kids to foods from all around the world. Or their anti-bullying campaigns and their shorts about volunteering – showing ways kids can start giving back to their communities. During the day their “commercials” show kids helping their parents fold the laundry and do other chores around the house. Not to mention the fact that as part of the response to the negative feedback they made the new movie, Brave, about a princess who saves herself. (You can also check out the video below to see their newest “I Am A Princess” campaign.) If all of that doesn’t go together to show that they’re dedicated to helping the next generation become stronger, more aware, and more responsible, I’m not really sure what does. Personally, I’m impressed with the effort they’ve made and feel like it’s time to cut them a little slack for things that came out 20+ years ago.
Sometimes I think it’s important that we take a step back every once in a while, and if we do, I think we might just realize that these are entirely adult worries. We should be thankful they cleaned up the true horrors from the original Grimm Fairy Tales, and accept the fact that with the amount of people there are on this planet, it’s impossible to be politically correct to everyone constantly all the time.
Most of all, be grateful for the fact that no one ruined your childhood by telling you fairy tales are a bad thing (think about that for a second, imagine growing up in a world without fairy tales…I certainly can’t!)
Now go eat some popcorn and sing along with some talking animals.
What did Disney Princesses teach you? What is your favorite Disney movie? Has it changed since you were a kid?