Beach: What messages are Disney’s princesses sending to children?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user CandaceApril.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user CandaceApril.

Posted by Emerald on Wednesday, Apr. 9 at 2:00 pm.

Disney has been a household name for years and its animated movies are what most of us grew up watching as children. Who didn’t want to be a Disney Princess or the valiant prince that saved the day?

Disney’s movies have been heavily analyzed and have proven to reveal many subliminal messages in its story lines. Along with these subliminal messages, come hidden messages and images that add an intriguing element to the movies. (For example, Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast appear in Tarzan.)

“The so-called ‘subliminal messages’ in Disney movies are less important than the explicit messages,” said Janet Wasko, a professor at the University of Oregon and author of Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy. “Which affect far more people than the relatively few hidden images.”

In this ever-progressive time period that we’re in, there has been a good amount of speculation around the historical inaccuracies and misrepresentation of social groups in the Disney classics.

The Disney Princess movies were my favorite growing up. Recently, I have noticed the real message that they send audiences.

The stories of the princesses are all one in the same. The ladies play the coy role of the “damsels in distress” and wait for their prince to come and save them, and live “happily ever after.” To the young children watching these movies, Disney is sending the message that if you’re ever in a bad situation, just wait for your prince to come along and whisk you away.

Life is not about waiting for your prince to come to your rescue. Life is about making things happen for yourself and being happy with your own accomplishments, not relying on others to create your own happiness.

In the movie Brave, the main character Merida seemed to go against the Disney Princess mold with her untamed curls and rebellious attitude. However, when Disney celebrated her coronation, making her an official Disney Princess, it released a completely revamped and sexualized version of the cartoon princess. Now, Merida is curvier, more voluptuous and appears to be wearing makeup.

“The bow-wielding Merida of Brave — a character who explicitly fought against the princess world her mother tried to push her into in the film — was becoming what she hated, and inadvertently revealing the enormously problematic nature of Disney’s Princess line,” Monika Bartyzel said in an article on theweek.com.

In the company’s latest animated film, Frozen, there are seemingly more progressive messages and views. One of the main characters, Elsa, shows that she is going to do what makes her happy at the end of the day and doesn’t need anyone to do it for her. She says it herself in the hit song, Let It Go, “I don’t care/ What they’re going to say/ Let the storm rage on/ The cold never bothered me anyway.”

This newest Disney movie empowers women for once, rather than portray them as dependent people searching for their man.

“Disney’s Frozen has unleashed a new breed of princess that is adorably awkward and incredibly relatable,” Courtney Willett, assistant variety director for The Red & Black, said in an article. “Princess Anna represents a more realistic standard for young girls to emulate. Her overall goofy persona is both humorous and refreshing in comparison to the demure and impossibly perfect princesses of the past.”

There is a good amount of value in Disney’s movies. However, it is important to take the messages in them with a grain of salt.



  • Olmec_Ed

    How about,

    “The University of Oregon’s got some fine-looking babes!” and that “it really is okay for girls to be pretty and to aspire to look that way”?

    As for subliminal messaging, I would be FAR more concerned about the one that says (ad nauseum in certain corners of this campus) that it is politically incorrect for girls to be girls.