I have a little confession. I’m thirty-two years old and I’m still in love with Disney. There’s nothing nicer than curling up on a Sunday afternoon with The Bloke, the cats and a bar of Dairy Milk Oreo ‘the size of my face’ to watch a Disney film.
Last year I posted a blog entitled ‘Why Carrie Bradshaw Needs A Slap’, which focused on Carrie’s lack of self-respect in SATC. I received a comment in reply to this post from Anna Allen Chappell, from the site ‘Pretty in Dixie’ about her dislike of Disney films for exactly the same reasons.
She’s absolutely right, and her comment opened my eyes. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that most of the Disney princesses’ strongest assets are essentially their looks and sexuality. With the exception of a few, most have the same characteristics – white, young, skinny and have a desperation to escape their current lives, and inevitably they achieve their ‘happy ever after’ because they are rescued by a man who is willing to do so because they are beautiful.
Disney always advertises the ‘love at first sight’ notion in their films. The beautiful princess meets the handsome prince and they fall instantly in love with each other. However, if Eric had seen an Ariel that weighed 250 lbs for the first time in ‘The Little Mermaid’, would he have experienced that same level of emotion? Quite possibly. But not in Disney. The overweight character is Ursula, the villain. Similarly, would all the other princesses have achieved their happy ending if they weighed considerably more? Would Aladdin have risked his life on many occasions to save Jasmine if she wasn’t skinny and wore her clothes hanging off her body? Would Philip have fought Maleficent if Aurora had a bottom the size of Brazil? (thank you Bridget Jones). If a 300lb Cinderella showed up to Prince Charming’s ball, would the prince have danced with her and then launched a nationwide hunt for her afterwards?
The argument certainly works both ways – Disney princes are often portrayed as attractive, strong and rich. I doubt that The Fairy Godmother would have gone to so much effort if Cinderella was attending a party hosted by ‘Nigel, the baker’s son’, or ‘Colin, the librarian’.
There are exceptions to this rule in that there a few strong, independent characters in Disney films, most notably Mulan and Rapunzel, but they aren’t an exception to the rule of beauty.
So do I think an ‘average’ princess is likely in a Disney film? Unfortunately, I think it is about as likely as a gay prince… But that’s another debate…
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