|February 10, 2011||Posted by revelation under LATEST, Media Mind Manipulation|
We’re all well aware of the media’s profound power to shape and influence the minds of it’s public, particularly the youth. Some are harmless silly trends, but some are timeless penetrating images that truly impact out mindset. Working with kids, I am able to witness firsthand the popular media influences of the time. So when the little girls come into class proudly flexing their Disney princess paraphernalia I want to wretch. I waste no time with my counter-propaganda, rolling my eyes when they show off their notebook, ‘inadvertently’ positioning the stickers they earn over each dreamy blue eye on their book until the whole face is covered. These are the girls to whom I refuse to give pink pieces of construction paper, to whom I give puzzles, and share my love for basketball and chess. And yes, I ultimately want them to think for themselves, and this is what I challenge them to do the most, but the pernicious influence of the Disney princess characters either is or at least stands for all that is wrong with the plight of women today.
Although they are disgustingly antiquated notions of womanhood, and girlhood, the Disney princesses still remain a significant presence within the culture of our youth to date! In 2000 and friggin 11, little girls still dress up as these idiotic princesses for Halloween and are hypnotized into dainty submission by the blinding glinting sparkles that distract them from their truth. They choose to ignore their own beauty, dive into fairytale instead, and are left to identify with the most superficial of ideals.
Most of the princess series that I’ve seen on countless lunchboxes, notebooks, folders, etc., feature many princesses standing side by side. Typically Cinderella rests prominently in the middle, forming the soft white center, from which the princesses on the outskirts show varying degrees of ‘dark’ (from hair to eyes to skin) as the more tan or dark featured princesses remain relegated to the edge. This cacophonous representation of diversity is a joke, as each and every one of the females reflects a nearly impossible standard from any ethnicity supposedly accounted for. But blatant racism aside, let’s focus on three clear reasons why these awful princess images have been and continue to be harmful for all young girls.
• The helpless princess syndrome
In each of the stories, the princess is yearning, longing for a prince to save her from the wretched empty life that she is forced to endure. Even when she ostensibly does the saving (as in Beauty and the Beast) or starts off as the princess herself (as in Aladdin), the ‘prince charming’ character is the one that gives her what she has been searching for, what she ‘needed all along.’ This teaches young girls that their life is somehow defined by this search for a man. That their life will be unhappy or incomplete, lest it be filled with acknowledgement from (not only a man but from) Prince Charming.
• The perpetuated myth of Prince Charming
What is a princess without a prince? In each of these stories fed to our little girls, there is a prince charming that is handsome, adoring and rich (at least always by the end of the story) who loves her into eternity and beyond. Buying into this picture is nothing but a recipe for pain and disaster when the realities of love prove to be a distant cry from what they see on the silver screen. This is certainly not to say that Disney is even the frontrunner in the perpetration of this myth. In fact, it is recreated in almost any chick flick romance that’s out, but the seeds of these ideas are planted somewhere, even in my own head, and Disney is the deepest root I can trace.
• Superficial standards
Not only does each of these false princesses represent an almost impossible standard of beauty, but their beauty is the most important and compelling quality that each has to offer. In Cinderella, the whole story was about her getting so dolled up that the prince would take one look at her and fall in love immediately (knowing absolutely nothing of her character). She, after all, was beautiful, unlike her ugly step sisters. There is such a premium placed on physical beauty, and that beauty is shown with unrealistic expectation. A 2 inch waistline, perfect features, super long glamorous hair, smooth flawless skin, soft, dainty, and completely non-threatening. These images can be radically detrimental to the self-perception of a girl as she matures. Princesses and barbies should be DESTROYED! This is why we have a culture obsessed with plastic surgery, bodily perfection, and ultimate unhappiness.
Any women out there with daughters, I implore you to think critically before allowing them to indulge in all of the Disney princess crap. It’s okay to want to be beautiful, but the lessons gleaned from their stories are ultimately destructive and disempowering. That’s how the devil works.