Growing Up Female in America
DISNEY: setting more unrealistic weight goals

Being a white female of America, I know firsthand what it is like to grow up with all the influences that surround young girls on a day to day basis. There is an obscure amount of gender stereotypes that surrounds many children’s movies, specifically Disney movies. The way women are portrayed in these movies is repulsive in a sense. The expectations and standards that creates to be a well respected woman are incredibly ridiculous and farfetched. Self-esteem is hard to come by when you are a girl. You always feel the need to be perfect, and why do we do this….because the standards of being beautiful and perfect were set long before we were even born. Not only have these standards been imposed on people for years, but it they are imposing on young children, children who should not be worrying how many calories they are eating and how much they exercise.

When you look at the two movies Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast, what sticks out? Both the titles contain the word “Beauty” in them, the impression that gives is that as a girl, the most important thing is to be , without “beauty” you are nothing. The characters in both the movies are white and very thin. These movies are telling young girls that in order to be pretty, you have to be white, and you have to be skinny. If you aren’t, then you are ugly. There are no Disney movies where the princess or the main “girl” is larger. I’m not saying that the girl has to be HUGE to prove a point; I’m saying that these princesses should portray the average person, but they don’t. Every princess has the same body shape, one that is impossible to attain in real life. Since every princess does have that particular body type, it makes young girls think that that is the only body type that is acceptable in society. It’s amazing to me that we wonder why so many girls and women have eating disorders, they are being told from an extremely young age that you have to look a certain way to be pretty and accepted. Race is even brought into the gender stereotypes of Disney, it’s basically a double stereotype. It took until 2009 to have a Disney princess of darker skin color, Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. So up until two years ago, there was a message sent to young girls that you weren’t pretty if you had darker skin. So not only is there these stereotypes about women in these movies, but there is a stereotype of race within the woman. But when a child is a receiving the message that in order to be pretty and feel pretty, you need to be white, skinny, physically stunning and a princess, from more than one source, that can change their whole outlook on life.

t seems like in a lot of Disney movies, the princess has to wait for her prince to save her in order to be free. But when you think about it, the princess isn’t free, now she is expected to fall in love with this prince and become his. Women are strong and shouldn’t be portrayed as helpless girls that aren’t able to take care of themselves or save themselves. Disney movies basically say that women would be nothing without men. In the classic film Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora has to live a hidden life, she doesn’t know her parents and they don’t know her. Aurora was threatened when she was born and so she was taken away so that she could be safe. So basically, she was taken away because she is a girl and she is weak and would not be able to protect herself in the presence of her parents. If it had been a prince that was cursed, the results would have undoubtedly been different. When Aurora returns to her parents and her home 16 years later, she fulfills the curse. One night, she was drawn by a light to a spindle where she pricked her finger and fell into a deep sleep (coma like). The only way for this spell to be lifted is for her prince to save her with a kiss of true love. A girl does not need love to save her. She does not need a man to save her. Women are perfectly capable of saving themselves (in most cases). The fact that she was so easily persuaded to prick her finger just says that women are easily persuaded. That if someone tells a woman to jump she will say how high.

It seems as though the only thing that these female characters have to offer is their sexuality. The fact that they are pretty women tends to save them in a lot of circumstances though out different Disney movies, but their sexuality also puts them in danger as well. Snow white is killed because of her sexuality and is only brought back to life because of her beauty and the prince cannot resist her. Ariel from The Little Mermaid gives up her voice in order to be a human; she has to rely purely on her looks to win the prince over. No worries though, who needs a personality to win over people these days? She of course, wins the prince after he comes to her rescue. Disney princesses don’t really have much to offer when you pick apart the movies and actually take a look at what the messages of these movies really are.

These women in these Disney movies are young girl’s heroes, they look up to these characters as if they were a celebrity role model. How girls/women are portrayed in these movies will directly affect a child and how they grow up. If a girl is constantly seeing in different movies that girls aren’t strong, that girls have to be pretty and that girls have to be skinny in order to make something of themselves, what are they going to do? They are going to want to be all of these things, and not necessarily in a healthy way. So many girls in today’s society have eating disorders and are disgusted by themselves. Disney is something most children watch, and it’s scary to think of the affects it could have on the young girls of the world. Girls should not have to deal with these things at such a young age (or ever). The worst part is, these children don’t even realize that their minds are being manipulated.