Are the representations of Disney Princesses in the media ethical?
by swhite_3114 on April 4, 2015 - 12:10am
Little girls from around the globe grow up watching Disney and aspire to be a future princess. I have myself grown up constantly watching Snow White, Aurora and Cinderella. The Disney franchise has a dominating presence in our children’s lives. This then leads for the franchise to have an immense influence on our children’s perception of what is right, what is wrong, and most importantly for young girls, what they should expect when they are older. Disney has provided a very distinct image of the female characters in their movies. With a small waist, perk breasts and long beautiful hair, women are portrayed to be a kind of beautiful that isn’t realistic. This type of body image is what is being promoted to young girls around the world. This creates an unrealistic goal that girls think they need to obtain. At such a young age to be bombarded with these images, no wonder there is an increase in self-consciousness about their appearances. Girls should be told they are all beautiful and that there is not a specific idealistic image to conform to in order to be beautiful. On top of that, Disney is putting these criteria on a little girls most convoyed goal; becoming a princess. If these girls are seeing a specific beauty is required in order to be a princess, they will not feel worthy enough and try to alter their appearances to conform. Society is already have trouble with teenagers and adults feeling pressured by the media to conform to an idealized beauty; are young girls to be added in the mix as well?
Disney’s most recent controversy on the subject revolves around Princess Merida, a Scottish teenage princess produced by Pixar, bought by Disney in 2006, was created by Brenda Chapman “To give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.” Merida was a strong female character that did not need a man to come to her rescue, if anything in the movie she was proving to her father how she is better suited for herself against all the other men competing to prove their worth to marry the princess. She was able to defend herself and fix her own problems. This was widely successful, however Disney decided to publish a new version of Merida in time for her coronation on May 11th, 2014. Immediately, there was an outburst of rejecting this glammed-up image of Merida which supported a more mature, curvaceous, dainty looking girl instead of the realistic looking princess girls loved. A petition launched on change.org obtained almost 19 000 signatures for Disney bring down the “new” image of Merida. This petition was supported by Chapman who claimed that Merida was “a princess who looked like a real girl, complete with the 'imperfections' that all people have … By making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior.”
Following the outbreak, Disney pulled down the sexualized version of Merida and later released a statement to defend themselves for the image. A spokesperson of Disney announced the reasoning of the image was to glam up the princess for her coronation as it is a special day. They had no intentions of replacing the original image of Merida with this new one.
In my opinion, I can see the dilemma here and to why it is presented as an ethical dilemma. On one hand, we have our children who are constantly being bombarded with idealization of one’s appearance and when finally they receive a realistic image, it gets altered. On the other hand, girls and guys will dress to their best and portray their best image during special occasions. Due to the princesses coronation, it is realistic in a sense for Merida to dress accordingly to the occasion as one would not attend such an important event looking like their everyday selves. However, due to the fact it involves how our youth are being taught what is expected of a girl too look, it can have sever damages. Therefore, Merida’s representations in the media is unethical and Disney should be more conscious when creating their characters appearances. Maybe, Disney could have kept the nice dress and the tamed hair while omitting the sexualization of her body.