Disney , Stereotypes and Femininity

It is apparent that gendered stereotypes and behaviors are still very prevalent in the Disney Princess line, though their depiction has become more complex over the years, reflecting changing gender roles and expectations in American society. Gender expectations were less complex when the first Disney Princess movies were produced and with the rise of feminism in the 1970s through current times they have become more complicated (Ferree et al. 2007). Women used to take care of the house and the children (Coltrane and Shih 2010), and these skills are showcased by the early princesses, such as the princesses in Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Women now, however, are expected to maintain such feminine traits, and also to incorporate aspects of “male” traits such as assertiveness, if they are to succeed outside of the home (Coltrane 2004). This development in women’s roles was reflected in the middle Princess movies such as Pocahontas and Mulan. The princesses participated in stereotypically masculine activities, such as conducting diplomacy and war, yet plot resolutions reflected traditionally valued outcomes for women, such as the princess being paired with the prince and choosing to return to family life rather than pursuing novel opportunities. In the most recent film, The Princess and the Frog, the princess was careeroriented, which initially prevented her from socializing and pursuing romantic opportunities. This was presented as a somewhat worrisome trait, in keeping with a society that might still be somewhat cautious of women’s greater role in the workplace and what that means for family life (Coltrane and Shih 2010). At the conclusion of the movie, however, she was able to both pursue a successful career and marry the prince. The prince characters became more complex over time as well. As discussed previously, earlier princes were rarely shown and displayed very masculine traits. For the first time, in Aladdin, the prince was the primary focus of the movie. The prince from The Princess and the Frog was the first character that was portrayed as a bit incompetent, naïve, and unable to financially support himself. Both princes displayed higher frequencies of feminine behaviors than masculine behaviors. Characteristics, Gender, and Narrative It is useful to consider the gendered characteristics analyzed in this study within the larger scripts of the films to better understand some of the gendered messages viewed by children. The prevalence of domestic work is an important theme in the Disney Princess movies and a substantial change that Disney incorporated over time was the temporary discontinuation of domestic work as a symbol of femininity. The first three princesses frequently were shown doing domestic work. In Cinderella, the princess did domestic work as an act of submission. She accepted, without complaint the hard labor her step-mother assigned, and always sang and smiled pleasantly while working. The men in the Princess movies never did domestic work. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves it was clear that men were not expected to do domestic work, nor did they have the ability to do so. When the princess cleaned the dwarves’ house she stated “you’d think their mother would” and then she realized that they probably did not have a mother because the house was dirty. Snow White rescued the dwarves in a traditionally feminine way, by cooking and cleaning and acting as their surrogate mother in order to stay with them. The princesses used domestic work variously as an expression of servitude and a way to gain love. By the middle movies of the 1980s–90s, Disney no longer portrayed the princesses doing domestic work. However, domestic work was very apparent in the most Sex Roles (2011) 64:555–567 563 current film, The Princess and the Frog. The princess was portrayed as a very good cook and a good waitress. In addition, her mother was described as “the finest seamstress in New Orleans.” The princess, like her mother, made a successful career from traditionally feminine labor. In addition, she is shown sweeping and cleaning several times, actions not seen since the early Disney films. Race scholars may find it worth examining further that a resurgence of domestic work accompanied the first black princess. In keeping with the complexity of gendered messages in these films, however, the princess learned to cook from her father and she was shown teaching the prince how to help in the kitchen. With the increase in breadth of gender roles displayed in these movies, it could be argued that a viewing child would be exposed to more balanced gender role portrayals. However, the middle movies and most current Disney Princess film still retained messages that are reminiscent of traditional roles, and there are many contradictory gender messages in the later movies that should not be discounted despite evidence of overall improvement in egalitarian content. The princess in the fourth movie, The Little Mermaid, was the first to begin to challenge traditional gender roles. This film was produced in 1989, 30 years after Sleeping Beauty, the last of the first three films. Considering this, a greater range of female behavior was expected, and indeed was shown. For example, the princess promoted the idea of wanting to explore, and was portrayed as independent and assertive

England, D.E. , Descartes, L. , Collier-Meek, M.A. (2011) Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses Springer Science + Business Media, 64, pp. 555–567. Ebscohost [online]. Available at: DOI 10.1007/s11199-011-9930-7

Disney and Horror

The origins of Disney films are very dark even the watered down versions; an example of this would be ‘Sleeping Beauty’ where a young women conceives and gives birth whilst in a deep sleep. Had Disney’s films been targeting adults they would be in the genre of horrors. However this does not mean that the Disney do not have elements of horror in their family , fantasy, animation films. Davis, A. M. (2006) collaborates similar themes between Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.

Horror and Disney deal with notions about what are (and what are not) appropriate gender roles, and it is true that Disney films and horror films tend to deal again and again, at least on an underlying level, with such themes as what is proper/improper behaviour for women, what is/is not the “natural order”, issues of coming of age and sexuality, and other gender-based concepts. Who rescues and who is rescued (not to mention who is rescue-able), what behavioural traits make a character “good” or “bad”, and whether a “bad” character can or cannot be reformed or redeemed are themes which Disney and horror films share, and the parallels between the ways in which these themes are played out within these two types of films are numerous.

As a specific example of a parallel between a Disney film and a horror film, we may compare the stories of Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Phantom of the Opera (1925). Both look at the love/obsession of a“monstrous other” for a beautiful, gifted young woman (Belle is highly intelligent and possesses strong academic leanings, Christine is a talented opera singer and performer). The Beast gives Belle a library so that she may read to her heart’s content for the first time in her life; the Phantom gives Christine the opportunity to take to the stage at the Paris Opera in a leading role, and finds ways to ensure that she has a successful career. Both young women, however, are prevented by their “benefactors” from having lives outside the small worlds of their gifts, and the only sources either Belle or Christine have for anything resembling romantic love are the monsters who are their protectors. Both films are based upon classic stories: Beauty and the Beast being based upon a French folk tale, Phantom of the Opera on Gaston Leroux’s novel by the same name, which is, in turn, based upon the legend of a haunting at the Paris Opera House. Both are tales of beautiful, innocent young women who are – ultimately – held captive by a deformed creature who is characterised by such traits as loneliness, vengefulness, possessiveness, self-loathing, possible madness, frustrated sexual desire, jealousy, and fear.

Film as a Cultural Mirror

In Hollywood, both in the past and in the present, what decides whether or not a film will be made, ultimately, is whether or not it is believed that the film will make money. If a film is to make money, it must appeal to a mass audience. If it is to do this, it must contain ideas, themes, characters, stories, and perceptions to which it can relate. It must, in other words, be relevant to the audience’s world view if it is to be successful. Why does a film like Thelma and Louise (1991), ostensibly a road movie about two redneck women trying to escape to Mexico, strike such a chord – and stir up such controversy – amongst audiences around the world? The simple answer to this is that Thelma and Louise touches upon certain issues – mainly women’s roles, rights and positions in what is still very much a male-dominated society – which are relevant not only to the lives of women of the same basic background as the title characters, but also to women as a whole, nearly all of whom have experienced some form of gender-related harassment and/or discrimination. More recently, the phenomenon of the success of the film Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), as well as the attendant criticism of the way it depicts thirty-somethings at the turn of the twenty-first century, has enjoyed great success. This far-reaching popularity comes from the fact that, like it or not, Bridget Jones’s Diary mirrors back to a great many women the conflicting roles they are expected to fill, and their confusion as to how to navigate the difficulties and contradictions to be found within the era’s complex and evolving understanding of the ways in which marriage, career, and family are/should be prioritised amongst middle-class Western women.

Likewise, there are within Disney’s films certain ideas, perceptions, themes and stereotypes which are relevant to the daily lives of those who made these films successful, namely the audiences, who paid to see these films in the cinema, bought the related merchandise, went to the theme parks and rented or purchased the videos and DVDs. Had these films not “spoken” in some way to contemporary audiences, or at least if the studio had not believed that these films had this potential, then the films themselves would never have been made. Or, if they had been made regardless (which, owing to the expense of their production, is doubtful), then they would – like the many films which have failed to gain a favourable reception with audiences – have disappeared not long after their release. Likewise, had the films been successful in their day, but the ideas and themes they contain ceased to resonate with the public (or, in extreme cases, jarred hatefully with modern values), they would have become rare, controversial cinematic relics along the lines of films such as D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915): watched out of scholarly curiosity, at best saluted for their technical innovations, but used – ultimately – as a measure of how far social attitudes and values had progressed since such films’ releases.29 Granted, there is within the continuing popularity of the Disney canon a certain element of parents wanting to share with their children those films they enjoyed during their own childhoods. However, if elements within these films had become so outdated that parents re-evaluated their fondness for these films and changed their minds about sharing them with offspring, or, if the children had found nothing within them to which they could relate, then the films would have faded from popularity, lingering in popular memory only because of their nostalgic value, not because of their importance as cultural icons. But the significance of Disney’s animated films is that, by and large, they did not disappear. While some were more popular than others, and while some have either increased or declined in mainstream popularity since their initial releases, most of Disney’s films are still highly popular, highly successful, and even decades (in some cases) after their initial releases, still highly profitable for their studio. As they continue to find new audiences in each up-coming generation, it seems reasonable to assume that these films have more than simply a nostalgic appeal: they must, in some way, still hold relevance for modern audiences.

Molly Haskell, in the introduction to the classic text From Reverence to Rape, noted that “Most of the popular novels, plays, short stories of the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties have all but disappeared, but the films based on them have survived to tell us more vividly than any new or old journalism what it was like, or what our dream life was like, and how we saw ourselves in the women of those times”.30 This is especially true of the films of Walt Disney. If people are asked to describe Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they are very likely to start talking about Sleepy, Dopey, and the rest of the dwarfs. If informed that, in the Grimms’ version of the tale, the dwarfs did not have individual names, many are generally (and genuinely) surprised. Those who consider themselves to be “well-read” may not like to admit it, but, so far as many such traditional stories are concerned, we are usually content to let “Uncle Walt” tell us “his” versions of the stories and trust that they have been told fairly and faithfully.

A factor which is just as important, however, in any evaluation of Disney’s role as cultural mirror is an examination of the individual characterisations within the stories themselves, as well as the types of stories which were selected to be made into films. The early films – the stories for which were chosen (and all of which were given final approval) predominately by Walt himself – are simple in their plot-lines, with easily-defined concepts of good and evil. This preference for more straightforward narratives seems to have been influenced, in large part, by the fact that such narratives seemed easier (both to Walt and to his staff) to adapt into animated feature films.31 This was particularly true in the earlier history of animation, when technological and artistic innovations were just beginning to find ways to allow for more complex animation such as would support more complex storylines and plots. It is certainly the case that, mostly, they are tales in which highly archetypal, even stereotypical portrayals of women are likely to be found. Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora/Briar Rose – all are good, simple, kind; they are what Virginia Woolf once dubbed “the angel in the house”.32 Many of the female characters from this period are counterbalanced within each one’s story by some evil, obsessive, and (most likely) sexually-unfulfilled older woman: the evil queen, the wicked step-mother, Maleficent the evil fairy, and Cruella deVil.33 It should be noted, however, that there are a couple of exceptions in this period. In the later periods of Disney’s films, only Penny (in The Rescuers, 1977) and Ariel (in The Little Mermaid, 1989) are directly threatened by an older, vindictive woman. By the time Atlantis was released in 2001 (twelve years later), the female villain, Helga, was depicted as a young, attractive, alluring woman at her peak, and is a far cry (both in looks and in complexity of motivation) from her villainess predecessors.

As feminist critics have noted, Hollywood has traditionally reinforced the patriarchal, largely Victorian value system which has dominated Western culture throughout the history of cinema. “As the propaganda arm of the American Dream machine”, declared Molly Haskell,

Hollywood promoted a romantic fantasy of marital roles and conjugal euphoria and chronically ignored the facts and fears arising from an awareness of The End – the winding down of love, change, divorce, depression, mutation, death itself. … The very unwillingness of the narrative to pursue love into marriage (except in the ‘woman’s film’, where the degree of rationalization needed to justify the disappointments of marriage made its own subversive comment) betrayed a certain scepticism. Not only did the unconscious elements obtrude in the films, but they were part of the very nature of the industry itself.34

In 1978, Brandon French noted that, particularly within women’s roles (both in film and television) of the 1950s, there was a substantial degree of subversion of the notion that women were happiest in these traditional roles.35 This subversion, however, in combination with the more traditional representations of women finding fulfilment in marriage, still reflects the mood of their era: it is just that they reflect an era of change, albeit change which was still in its earlier stages of development.

In Disney’s films – in particular, those made during what is referred to in this book as “The Classic Period” (films made during Disney’s lifetime, between 1937 and 1966) – this traditional interpretation of the roles of love and marriage is without question the most prevalent. Heroes and heroines meet, fall in love, go through a separation and hardship (which no doubt serves in some sense as a test of their devotion and pureness of heart), are reunited, marry, and live happily ever after. What exactly that “happily ever after” entails is a mystery, and we as spectators are led to believe that it will be simply a continuation of their love and happiness – of their exact emotions – at the time of their marriage. For many individuals within both child and adult audiences, such a future seems not only bright and lovely but possible. There is nothing in most films (Disney or otherwise) to indicate that love, even when it lasts, can change, or lose its intensity without losing its strength. Some recent writers and pundits have criticised this tendency to focus on the “happily ever after” as one of the roots of marital instability in the late twentieth century. As one such writer, working in the increasingly popular so-called “self-help” genre, would complain, “Because romantic tales usually end at the wedding (whole years eclipsed by the lying words: ‘and they lived happily ever after’) and because there has been scant attention paid to the question of how to live together in the increasingly complex state of marriage or long-term cohabitation, most people are naive about what it entails”.36 However, given that, in the case of Disney films, most of these stories were decades or centuries old by the time they were put on film, and that the narrative structures they rely upon have been the framework for countless stories both past and present, when accounting for the increase in failed marriages and difficult or failed long-term relationships in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century, it seems peculiar to think that so much of the blame can be laid at the feet of fairy tales and the movies.

For some spectators, these depictions of love and marriage – stereotypical and essentially Victorian in sensibility though many of them are – served as a valued and valuable form of escapism.37 This notion becomes particularly heightened when one remembers that the films with which this study is concerned, animated Disney feature films based mostly upon traditional fairy tales, are films which can be seen as doubly escapist due to their source material (fairy stories, with which many within the audience would have been familiar since childhood) and their medium (animation being a format which allows for amazing and otherwise impossible characters and depictions of fantasy and mythology). As Norman Klein notes:

Much has been made of the psychological advantages of function in fairy tales; it presumably enables the listener to externalize deeply felt anxiety. It reifies forgotten moments in a person’s intimate development (stages in childhood; family crises; sexual fears), or the social meanings of taboos in a community (like kin or incest). Function penetrates forgotten fears.38

What is it in these tales the Disney studio tells which carries out this “function” in fairy tales? When strong, sexually-mature women are portrayed as frustrated, maniacal, bloodthirsty demons and witches, what are these portrayals saying about perceptions on the part of the film-makers of women’s sexuality? Most of all, perhaps, how large a role do these portrayals play in perpetuating or, in some cases, challenging certain sub-consciously held attitudes within society? Such questions as these are best answered not only through looking at Disney films as a genre in and of themselves, but also through looking at Disney in relation to the horror genre.

Davis, A. M. (2006) Good Girls and Wicked Witches: Women in Disney’s Feature Animation Eastleigh, UK: John Libbey Publishing

Disney characters portray ‘beauty is good’ stereotype

An academic study of characters in Disney’s animated movies has concluded that the heroes and heroines tend to be better-looking, and cleverer, than the bad guys

Disney character Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations Photo: Rex Features

But an academic study has come up with bad news for the baddies – they are almost always portrayed as uglier and stupider than their virtuous foes.

The researchers, who analysed 21 Disney films made since 1938, accused the corporation of perpetuating a “beauty is good” stereotype.

Participants in the study – carried out at two US universities, North Carolina and Appalachian State – were asked to rate 163 characters on a scale of one to ten in terms of “goodness”, and also score their attractiveness, intelligence, aggressiveness, romantic involvement, and life outcome.

In almost every movie, the good characters were more attractive, more intelligent and less aggressive. They were also more likely to live ‘happily ever after’ and to find romance.

 The films that had the strongest correlation between beauty and goodness were Cinderella, Pinocchio, The Rescuers, and Lilo and Stitch.

But even in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast, which each feature a unconventional-looking hero, the good characters were judged on average to be better looking than the bad.

Only in one movie, the 2003 release Brother Bear, were the villains more attractive than the heroes. Films in which fewer than three characters had human-like features were discounted.

The study found that the “beauty is good” attitude was typified by characters such as Cinderella, Prince Charming, Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, and the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, concluded: “As ratings of beauty increased, so did ratings of friendliness, goodness, intelligence, favorability of the character’s outcome, and romantic involvement.

“Across the animated movies, attractive characters displayed higher intelligence, lower aggressiveness, and greater moral virtue.

“Moreover, physically attractive characters were more likely to achieve positive life outcomes at the film’s end and were more likely to be romantically involved.”

The study is not the first to highlight how Disney portrays characters in a one dimensional manner.

In 2007 a study by academics at Brigham Young University in Utah found that the animations could be giving old people a bad name.

They found the persistent portrayal of the elderly as villains and old hags could lead to children forming the wrong impression of pensioners.

Disney and Hyperrealism

I have included this chapter as it is focused on the look of the Disney characters and I feel it explains the process of how the characters were created.

Disney – Formalist period. The artistic paradigm promoted by Snow White has since become known as ‘hyperrealism’. Hyperrealism, as a term, is not unique to animation. However, Disney – or more specifically, Disneyland – does not provide the means by which theorists such as Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard engage with the concept. Both Eco and Baudrillard, using Disneyland as an example, utilise the term to debate issues of cultural reproduction in the twentieth century:

For Eco, Disneyland is the ultimate example of what he sees as an emergent postmodernist culture characterized by the ‘fake’ (others include waxwork museums and animatronic displays) , whereas for Baudrillard our enjoyment of the theme park’s emphasis on its own spectacular ‘hyperreality’ serves to distract us from the fact that the real world as the whole is now hyperreal: there is no real left to ‘fake’.

(Dovey et al. 2009, 138)

Although both Eco and Baudrillard problematise constructions of ‘reality’ in ways that are characteristic of postmodernism, within animation studies the term “hyperrealism’ has acquired different and more specific meanings. Hyperrealism, as a developed in the works of animation theorist Paul Wells, has come to define a mode of animation, which despite the medium’s obvious artifice, strives for ‘realism’. It is this paradox – the attempt to represent reality in a medium predicted on artificiality – that makes hyperrealism such an appropriate term.

Conventionalised during the Disney – Formalist period, the Studio’s Hyperrealism is frequently seen ‘as the yardstick by which other kinds of animation may be measured for its relative degree of “realism”’ (Wells 1998, 25). Although this ‘realist’ style is often taken to represent the work of the Studio in toto, this misrepresents a substantial proportion of the Studio’s animation oeuvre. Much of Disney’s early animation resisted to conventions of realism, and like the contemporary shorts such as Felix the Cat (1920-28), Mickey Mouse (1928-99) and the Silly Symphonies featured a exaggerated squash-and-stretch physics and cartoonal metamorphosis. However, with the change to Disney-Formalist feature animation the pursuit of realism quickly became the overriding concern. This desire is evident in a Snow White production meeting held in 1936.

Taking the lead, and introducing a number of the concerns facing the animators, Hamilton Luske raises the issue of how Snow White’s eyes are to be depicted. Conscious of the need to reconcile realism within the animated form, Luske observes: ‘we see this girl with round eyes- just as round as we can make them. If we get too large eyes, like some the comic strips, she gets into the Betty Boop type (Williams 1987b). Furthermore, the emphasis on believability leads the animators to present at this meeting to question how best to depict Snow White’s mouth. Luske again takes the lead, arguing that if her mouth is not correctly animated, people might criticize it for not having ‘enough form to it’ , before concluding: ‘We have a mouth we have to put teeth in, ect., and still make it look realistic’ (Williams 1987b).

The most significant element of Disney-Formalist hyperrealism is the lifelike movement – or motor function – of the animation, which reflects both the actual movements of live-action models and the skill of the animator. By employing a more studied variety of squash-and-stretch movement, from one drawing to the next, it quickly ‘became the very essence of animation’ (Thomas and Johnson 1995, 48). As Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson note, squash-and-stretch had potential to affect all aspects of animation: ‘a smile was no longer a simple line spread across a face; it now defined the lips and their reaction to the cheeks. Legs were no longer . . . rubber hoses; they swelled as they bent and stretched to long flexible shapes’ (1995, 48).

In case of Disney animation, ‘filmed actions of humans and animals [were also] used in many ways . . . [leading] to some important discoveries’ (Thomas and Johnson 1995, 319). In the Studio’s early Disney-Formalist features, rather than simply follow a strategy of rotoscoping, a method employed by the Fleischer Studios in their Betty Boop (1932-39) series and in the feature-length Gulliver’s Travels (1939), the Studios animators used to live action solely as a guide. Disney Himself once remarked how useful filmed action could be when viewed frame-by-frame, stating: ‘I used to see things there that I could never imagine’ (Williams 1987a). In contrast to the Studio’s preferred realism, strictly rotoscoped animation had a tendency to ‘ lost the illusion of life’, because as Thomas and Johnson argue, despite the accuracy in the movement provided by rotoscoped, ‘it was impossible to become emotionally involved with [the] . . . shadowy creature who was never real inhabitant of our fantasy world’ (1995 323).

Pallant. C (2011) Demystifying Disney: A History of Disney Feature Animation SAGE Publications New York 

Turning America Into A Toy Store

I have found a segment of this chapter from one of the books on my reading list titled ‘ The Mouse that Roared – Disney and the End of Innocence’ by Henry A. Giroux. This chapter relates to the topic I am focused on in this subject, which is merchandising and gender roles and aesthetics of female characters.

Disney’s view of children as consumers has little to do with innocence and a great deal to do with the corporate greed and realisation that behind the vocabulary of family fun and wholesome entertainment is the opportunity for teaching children that critical thinking and civic action in society are far less important to them than the role of passive consumers. Eager to reach children under twelve, “who sell out 17$ billion more spent by their parents”, Disney relies on consultants such as marketing researcher James McNeal to tap into such a market. McNeal can barely contain his enthusiasm about targeting children as a fertile market and argues that the ‘World is poised on the threshold of a new era in marketing and that …fairly standardised multinational marketing strategies to children around the globe are viable”. For McNeal and his client, the Walt Disney Company, kids are reduced to customers, and serving the public good is an afterthought. In its search of new markers and greater profits, Disney presents its films, theme parks, and entertainment as objects of consumption rather than as spheres of participation.

Art in the Magic Kingdom becomes a spectacle designed to create new markets, commodify children, and provide vehicles for merchandising its commodities. Films such as The Lion King,Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Mulan are used to convert J. C. Penny, Toys R us , McDonalds and numerous other retailers into Disney Merchandising outlets. But real commercial blitz is centred in Disney’s own marketing and distribution network, which includes the Disney Store, The Disney Channel , Disney Magazine , Disney Land , and Walt Disney World.

Giroux  A. H  (2001) The Mouse that Roared : Disney and the End of Innocence Pennsylvania State University

Young girls view on the race or disney princesses

TV princesses in the eyes of Western and non-Western girls
Can I be a princess?
Another important point in the interviews and focus groups that further became a theme of the research was the possibility for these children to identify themselves with Disney princesses, and to feel like they could be princesses. Most of the girls interviewed in all 4 countries declared tha they wanted to be princesses or that at least some time during their early childhood they wanted to be one. Yet, most of these girls in all of these countries acknowledged that Disney princesses were fictional characters and did not exist in the communities they lived. So it would seem that the girls’ desire to become princesses was mainly a search for role models and life examples. The young girls are probably negotiating with the fanta
-sies of their own potential and a reality of their life to incorporate some models of thinking and behavior in
their everyday life. The answers to the question “Can you be a princess?” provided the grounds for the sharpest contrast between the girls in non-Western settings and those in the United States regarless of race and ethnicity. Girls from
non-Western countries seem to have a sense of helplessness whereas U.S. children have a sense of entitlement.
Fijian, Indian, and Chinese girls see themselves as too dark and not good enough to be princesses in general or
Disney princesses in specific, where as U.S. girls of various descent see themselves as beautiful and good, just like the Disney princesses. Renewed and invigorated Westernization and colonialism seem to be some important results of viewing cartoons with Disney princesses – including cartoons with exotic princesses or with princesses from other cultural spacesthan the Western world. “Disney Princesses are white and I want to be like them”When asked whether Jasmine, Mulan, and Pocahontas look like her, a Fijian descent girl in Fiji said: “They have a different skin color … I play too much in the sun.” And when askedm how Jasmine, Mulan, and Pocahontas looked like, an Indian descent girl in Fiji affirmed: “Beautiful, white.” The same girl said: “They were white and I want to be like them.” Numerous Fijian, Indian, and Chinese girls in this research mentioned their darkness of skin and hair in contrast with the fairness of the Disney princesses in as much of a contrast for Jasmine, Mulan, and Pocahontas as for Snow White, Cinderella, or Ariel. The Western popular culture and mainstream media that reach the Asia-Pacific region have pressured these girls into believing that white is synonymous with beautiful. By contrast, girls in the United States seem to be color blind and seem to ignore race as an issue: they see Jasmine, Mulan, and Pocahontas as their own, as being like themselves, and they identify with these princesses as much as they identify with those be longing to their part of the world and cultural space. One of the Caucasian
girls said: “I am pretty, my family and friends love me, I am a princess for them.” One of the Indian descent girls in the United States said: “In my mind I am sometimes a princess.” A Native American descent girl in the United States declared: “I could be like a princess, though sometimes I could be better than a princess.” One reason could be that regardless of Drawings of Disney’s “exotic” princesses Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan from girls in the US (ill. 4,Chinese-American), Fiji (ill. 5) and China (ill. 6)
the race differences in Mulan, Jasmine, and Pocahontas, they all speak American English which facilitates U.S. girls’ identification with them. But going beyond linguistic identification, the girls in the United States seem to trust themselves, their social groups, and their environment; all of these would not be bad things, but the question is: Does this self-assurance
and reassurance of the Western world people, usually resulting from seeing images that match their reality, hurt the identities and individualities of other people around the world who live in a culture that does not follow the same rules as those enjoyed by their U.S. counterparts and Disney princesses?

Nastasia, D., Uppal, C. (2010) TV princesses in the eyes of Western and non-Western girls Televizion, 23, pp. 36 – 37. br-online.de [online]. Available at: http://www.br-online.de/jugend/izi/english/publication/televizion/23_2010_E/nastasia_uppal.pdf