List 6: To hell with Disney princesses

| 32 Comments

As I've mentioned, I've been spending some time lately with Disney princesses. And wow, they piss me off. I mean, them pissing me off is why I started the subversive boxes in the first place, clearly, but now that I am looking for them I see them EVERYWHERE, and I really, really hate them.

Here is a list, chronologically, of the Disney princesses and why they suck.

snow white1. Snow White (1937). Disney's first princess. Stock story--wicked stepmother, Garden of Eden-style poison apple, handsome prince. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Then there's Snow White's turn as a subservient house maid for the dwarves, the racism implicit in the good character being "white" and the evil character "black"...What bothers me the most about Snow White, I think, is the sick emphasis on her "purity." It makes me want to retch.

Cinderella2. Cinderella (1950). My guess is that Cindyrella is Disney's most popular princess. You know the story: another wicked stepmother, this time with sisters to boot, another beautiful maid, another handsome prince. With freaky 50s class implications! The thing that pisses me off the most about it, though, I gotta tell you, is the conflation of big feet=ugly horrible woman and small feet=lovely perfect princess. Gah.

aurora3. Aurora (1959). Princess Aurora, also known as Sleeping Beauty, has the distinction of being the Disney princess who takes the longest nap. The wicked stepmother becomes an evil witch, but once again we get a wake-up kissing prince, this time one to whom Aurora was betrothed at birth! And requisite sexless protector women (the good fairies), whose vanity over whose signature color will reign ends up getting Aurora caught--they are the most irritating part, I think. There's also a weird class aspect here--Aurora has to give up her class/crown in order to be safe, and there's a feeling of "noble poverty" that bothers the shit out of me.

ariel4. Ariel (1989). Ariel is the Little Mermaid. I have no idea why Disney decided to pick the princesses back up after a 30 year hiatus, but when they did, they put her underwater. Possibly just so the princess could wear a bikini. Again we have a handsome prince and a stepmother/witch, and talking animals (they're a must in the previous stories too). Ariel is a bit different from the previous princesses in that she's more headstrong and has a bit more agency, but the script is really still the same. And still annoying. The man who saves Ariel is her dad and not her prince, but the stupid trope of falling in love with a handsome prince reigns supreme.

belle5. Belle (1991). Ariel was so successful Disney had to follow her up, so they kicked it old school with Beauty and the Beast, which is possibly the single most irritating and horrifiying Disney movie ever made. Belle isn't actually a princess, she's just a girl, and she is trades herself for her imprisoned father and is held hostage by the Beast. With whom she, of course, falls in love. Falls in love with her captor--yay. Then of course she "breaks his curse" and he becomes handsome and lovely. Because there ain't nothing worse than being ugly. Gag.

jasmine6. Jasmine (1992). Not only did Aladdin give Disney the chance to feature another navel-revealing princess, this time she got to live out basically the same story while being non-white. Yeehaw! Like Ariel, Jasmine is a bit spunkier than the early princesses, and she gets herself in all sorts of trouble. Jasmine's rescuer, Aladdin, is a commoner not a prince, and she never takes a big nap. The film also continues a trend away from female villains (the stepmother role), with Jafar. Which is all well and good, but it's still a racist piece of shit.

Pocahontas7. Pocahontas (1995). How excited were Disney execs when they realized how profitable non-white princesses could be? So excited that they followed Jasmine up with Native American princess Pocahontas! The story line does change up some here, with no evil older man/ugly dude/stepmother and a princess who doesn't get married and live happily ever after in the end. However, Pocahontas still bugs me, because it's racist and reactionary and historically inaccurate. It's almost progress, though.

mulan8. Mulan (1998). Disney continues its run of non-white princesses (and inaccurate co-opting of other people's legends) with Mulan, about whom I have lots to say over at Heroine Content. Again, there is almost-progress here, but not quite.

tiannaApparently, the next Disney princess will be Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog, upcoming in 2009. Unsurprisingly, Tiana will be the first Black Disney princess. My hopes were low to begin with, and only got lower when I saw Tiana's picture. I'm sure Disney will pat itself on the back for its cultural sensitivity (that's four non-white princesses in a row!), but will she possibly be anything other than another horrible stereotype (now with gender AND race!)?

tinkerbellFor the purpose of the boxes, I am also making a honorary Princess of Peter Pan's Tinkerbell, just because I hate her so much. Disney released their version of Peter Pan in 1953, and in it Tinkerbell was jealous, mute, and possibly stupid. Gah. To go along with the revenue-generating Princesses, Disney has built a Fairies franchise around Tinkerbell. Interestingly, the other fairies are new characters, young hot fairies from Neverland. The company didn't chose to incorporate its old fairy godmothers from Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Can't think of why that would be...

You can take a quiz to find out which princess you are here. I honestly wasn't sure which one to hope for when I took it. I got Pocahontas, which I guess is about as well as I could hope to do.

32 Comments

1. What about anastasia?

2. Anti-princesses for a different though valid reason here

I demand a more abstract reason for you hating Disney princesses, because:

A survey listing reasons each movie princess is regressive, reactionary, racist (or other R-word) doesn't break down the specific overall reason for hating them.

Not that I'm all super stoked on princesses. If we're going to barrage young girls with very specific gender programming, we should pick one that will have positive results in the long run - like porn stars (not their real lives, just their on-camera personas) or politicians (ditto).

I personally prefer the porn star route, but that's because I'm an awful, awful person.

Also, more hormones in the milk, please.

But seriously - gimme an intro and conclusion to your post, even if it's a seperate post entirely.

You wouldn't believe the shitstorm when I once stated my hatred for all things Disney on a private forum I frequent.

So, on behalf of sane women everywhere, sing it, sister!

Took the quiz - apparently I'm Pochahontas too.

I hate Disney most purely because I had much younger siblings and they would watch the same movie over and over again for a month or so at the time. So.damn.annoying.

I think Tinkerbell is a boy in drag.

I'm not so sure if the non-white princesses are really all that progressive. I think maybe it has something more to do with the old and still firmly rooted colonial mentality that sees foreign/ethnic women as exploitable sexual objects.

That and essentially all Disney does is stick "ethnic" faces on the exact same body with the same American ideals and actions.

Or maybe it's just that I'm a communication student so by default I hate Disney.

There is something wrong with you.

I have to admit, I am a huge Disney fan. Huge. But, since I've seen all the movies multiple times, I have to say that I HATE pretty much all the Princesses. My list is:
5. Ariel.
I like this movie, but Ariel is too subservient for my taste. And the way she gives up her whole life for a guy? Sure, she won't listen to her father, but she'll do anything for her true love, who is obsessed with finding the 'perfect woman' as evidenced by his determination to marry only the woman who can sing so well. Huh. Talk about sad.
4. Pocahontas.
No. Just no. First she talks to a tree, then she watches the 'strange clouds' float into the harbor, then she follows John Smith (who, inevitably, happens to hate 'savages') and right when he's about to shoot her, he has an epiphany; hey, we're all human! It would be wrong to kill her when she hasn't done anything to me! which is brought on, of course, by Pocahontas' beauty. Later, when her father almost kills John, she throws herself over him, saying "I love him!" Hello? The real Pocahontas was a twelve year old girl, and she only sacrificed herself because she realized what John's death would do to the two groups, and rightly guessed it would result in war. And don't even get me started on the second one. She stabs John in the back, ends up with another John, and basically becomes everything I hate. And the gigantic sacrifice she made (leaving her family) is lessened by the fact that she has guys drooling at her feet. Great exchange.
3. Cinderella
Now, this one is total shit. He only loves her because she's the prettiest one there, and then he only thinks she beautiful when she's dressed in princess-y clothes. Now what is that telling girls? 'Look, come back in a tiara and glass shoes, and we'll talk about it.' And, as with all Princesses that originated from fairy tales, you never find out the guys name. (Or, at least, I've never been able to watch it long enough to find out)
2. Snow White
Oh, God, spare us, please. I hate this movie a lot. It has absolutely no redeeming features at all, unlike 5 to 3. (Hey, I don't like Cinderella herself, but I think the singing mice are pretty cool.) She lives with seven men, yet still she is 'pure.' Hmm. That doesn't really make sense, when anyone else other than a Princess would be immediately labeled 'whore' if she lived with seven men. Also, it has a horrible plot, and Snow White is seen praying. That is totally not okay, at least in my opinion. It's basically saying, 'I'm pretty and sweet and innocent, and I pray, like all good little girls should if they want to go to heaven.' If this were anything other than a Disney movie, I wouldn't care about the whole 'God' thing, but girls strive to be like these princesses, and if they are saying that doing it Snow White's way is the right way, that's downright racist, which I guess we already knew Disney was.
1. Aurora
This is number one simply because I HATE HER. I can't really think of that many reasons, except that I'm pretty sure the chances of the person you mysteriously meet in the woods and fall in love with being your betrothed is so unlikely, it probably doesn't even register. And the way her fairy guardian people are so vain is really unlikely also; would the king and queen trust their baby to a group of idiots? I also hate the way her prince has to save her, but of course that is practically a requirement of Disney movies

Actually, I think you may have some good points buried in there somewhere...but most of this is exaggerated and unfair. A lot of your criticism has to do with the plot and racism, which is a problem because:

a) the plotlines, which would be okay if you were merely upset about Disney’s editing process, but you’re addressing the original stories as well, which were largely NOT by Disney. Also, most of the original stories were created so long ago that they WERE original back then, in fact they were THE originals, and the point of the stories was to teach a moral lesson. They were also trying to paint a dreamlike picture in which peasants and the like could escape and imagine that they if they were good enough people, they could end up like the princesses in the story – which was obviously untrue, but he, this was the middle ages, and back then it was good to dream without worrying about PC crap.

b) Racism and sexism. Again, the original storylines for these movies were written in an age where it hadn’t even occurred to anyone that racism and sexism were bad things – that was just how the world worked. Also, a lot of the older Disney movies were also RELEASED in a time when sexism was still okay. As for racism…well, it really isn’t as “there” as you seem to think it is. Just because most of these movies have an all-white cast doesn’t mean they are racist. Then, when the rest of the country went crazy and started shouting “RACISM” at everything, Disney attempted to remedy their pasty mistake…and got even more crap for it. But honestly, even when they started getting a little bit more diverse, it was never all about the races at all – it was about the stories, and the people who could only see the change in race instead of the actual story are the true racists, in my opinion.

And now:

1: Snow White. Mostly stuck true to the Brother’s Grimm tale, so any criticism on the plot should go to them, not Disney. Yes, Snow white has no realistic personality, but at least she was in character with the original plot. Also, there were no black people in Snow White. So how could the villain be black? And if you’re saying that the traditional SYMBOLISM of darkness=evil, light=goodness is secretly a racist comment….well that’s just silly.
Also, to Laura’s comments about Snow White praying – think about the era in which this was released. It was pretty much a common deal. I’m sorry if Disney failed to consider the widespread anti-religion America of the Future.

2: Cinderella. Again, it mostly stayed true to the original story, minus the parts about cutting off parts of feet and pecking out eyes, and of course adding Disney’s signature talking animals. So if you have any criticism on the plot, criticize Grimm, not Disney. Personally, I dislike this one as well, because in the Disney version Cinderella is SUCH a wuss. But hey, again you have to take into account the era this was produced in. She probably fit right in when she was new.
And to Laura: in the Disney version, the prince never saw her when she was without princess clothes, so how could he compare her with and without?

3: Aurora. I actually really liked this story, not because of Aurora, but because of the prince – Philip, the first Disney prince to have a name, and the most awesome prince of all the movies in my opinion. He doesn’t just show up last-minute to kiss the princess awake – he is captured while looking for her, escapes imprisonment, chops through a forest of thorns, AND battles a dragon to boot. But besides him – once again, it is not Disney’s fault that Aurora is gullible and naïve with little real personality – they were only following the original storyline.
To Laura: of course it’s unlikely. It’s a FAIRYTALE. They’re all pretty damn unlikely. That’s the point.

4: Ariel. In the original story, the mermaid falls in love with a human sailor(can’t remember whether he was a prince) and gets a witch to turn her human so she can marry him. However, as a human she is both mute AND it hurts for her to walk. To top it off, the man she loves doesn’t care for her at all and marries someone else, which breaks her heart and turns her into sea foam. Yes, here in Disney we have the tragic original plotline replaced with a happy ending and laced with talking animals, but hey, it’s s children’s movie. Give it some slack. They were attempting to be creative this time. If they failed miserably, at least they were starting to think out of the box.
To Laura: he’s only obsessed with the voice because that’s the only way he’s able to identify the woman who saved his life. It’s about the rescue thing, not the voice.

5: Personally, Beauty and the Beast has to be one of my favorite fairytales. The Disney version follows the original plotline fairly well – except they made her father a decent person and added a villain named Gaston. The prince goes back to having no real name…but at least they gave Belle an actual personality, as opposed to the two-dimensional Snow White-ish character in the original tale. Belle is the only Disney princess I’ve seen with a real brain. And the entire POINT of this story is that outward beauty doesn’t matter. Just because the guy changes back in the end doesn’t change it.

6: I tend to think the Aladdin story is a bit better than the Ariel story because this is the first Disney movie in which they fall in love over TIME instead of instantly(besides Beauty and the Beast). Except in this case they’re “overcoming” a class difference instead of an ugliness issue. I really don’t see a similarity to Ariel at all in this, except for both girls’ defiance of their parents and status. This movie also gets points because it’s the first Disney princess movie with a plot BESIDES the love story.

7: I cannot see how Pocahontas is racist. Please make that a little clearer to me. Is it because of the whole Enlgishman-verses-Indians thing? Because that’s not racism – that’s just how it was. XD And of course it’s historically inaccurate – once again, they were trying to make a children’s movie, not a historical documentary.

8: Yes, Mulan was historically and culturally inaccurate. So what? Once again, Disney isn’t there to educate people, it’s there to entertain. It would be nice if they tried a more educational view, I think but that’s not what they want to do, and it’s okay, because they are just children’s movies. You think a child will watch one of these and get all indignant because it isn’t culturally correct? I doubt many of them even notice, let alone care. They just like the story.

I won’t say anything about the new movie because I know nothing about it, and also I hate the new Tinkerbell thing, mainly because I dislike most of Disney’s attempts at uprooting the classics with crappy sequels, prequels and spin-offs.

No, I don't work for them. ^^; I just remember when I went through a jaded, Disney-hating phase in my pre-teens, and I was trying to remember if I had any valid reason for hating them. I have too much free time, so I went on a search of ANYONE who has a valid and non-fanatical reason to hate Disney Princesses. I came across this article.
Also, I happen to have a sore spot when it comes to throwing around the words "sexism" and "racism," so I apologize if I came on a bit too strongly.

I think who ever wrote these things hasnt any life what so ever. I'm guessing you are in your late 20's, early 30's and single. You have to be a sick and twisted person to dis a disney princess.They are the most innocent thing i can think of. My niece adores them. She then googles Disney Princesses and found this website. Her being able to read, she asked why this person was so mean. You need to watch what you say. May you rot in hell for saying such crude things about every little girl's favorite princesses. Remember, they are fantacy, not reality.

So to get even with Grace for making your daughter sad by saying crude things, you tell her to rot in hell?

Just a reply for Jenny, first comment - Anastasia is not a Disney film; it's a 20th Century FOX creation.

you are a pessimistic idiot who clearly is filled with self hate

when i was young i didnt pay attention to what race the princess was or all this other crap, they have good lessons

You guys are reading WAY too much into this. When the little 5 year old girls watch these movies, they just see beautiful women, like they think their mothers, pre-school teachers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and even themselves, are. They don't care about the race. They see beauty, fun music, a handsome prince, a lesson, and a happy ending. They don't care about all the negatives. So why should we??

I agree with the pro-princess people. these princesses are just fantasy here to show little girls that they are beautiful and that they are WORTH something and that they can be anything they want to be. Little girls need to know these things and unless they have horrible parent they shouldnt even bother wit sexism and racism at that age. its all about love, fantasy, and reminding them that they are ALL princesses

I do go against with the stereotypes of these Disney movies. But, given the time period that these movies were made, that was the fashion. For example, when Snow White was made, people still didnt fully-respect different races. It's wrong, I do say. Another thing is little children grow up with these stories. They grow up beleiving that they can become princesses. Lots of people see harm in their children being exposed to these stories, but honestly, why not let a five year old believe that she can fall in love at first sight? It gives her a positive outlook on her five-year life. When she gets older, she can be reprimanded for thinking a man completes her life, not when she barely knows how to tie her own shoes. So there is no harm, in my opinion, in these, somewhat stereotypical stories.
(sorry for going off topic)
-Molly

I'm liking the pattern of random races for Disney princesses. I wonder what's next...

Don't forget Esmerelda of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I came here for a chronological list because the drooling preciousness being fussed over "Disney's first African American princess" was ringing very false, as a 48 y.o. father whose Disney watching days just started in the mid '90s. I knew she was far from the first non-white lead, and really.... how many princess stories are set in America?? Thanks for the almost-complete rundown.

@Molly
why not let a five year old believe that she can fall in love at first sight? It gives her a positive outlook on her five-year life. When she gets older, she can be reprimanded for thinking a man completes her life

Well said....

@Erin
Have to disagree that Sleeping Beauty, Mulan and Pocohantas are drawn as "ethnic faces on the exact same body." Nor is there really all that much commonality to the characters' actions and motivations (post-Grimm).

You have put into words what I have been thinking my entire life! Thank you! And no other princess but the African American princess spends half the movie as a frog or some other animal. What the hell? I agree exactly, however I do want to hear your opinion on Anastasia.

@Gwinna

Bravo. I applaud you. The first, in my opinion, well informed response on this site.

"inaccurate co-opting of other people's legends"

This isn't a racist thing--Disney is also inaccurately retelling their own legends (if we're gonna lump all white people together and say Danish fairytales also belong to Americans). Keep in mind, in the origional Ariel, she dies and turns into an angel at the end. And frankly, Mulan is less racist than much anime, which features blond-haired anglo-esque characters with huge eyes.

I love the wrath, and agree that there are some major skeevy aspects of Disney, but not everything is bad. If we teach our chilren not to be racist and use the movies to our own ends, any racist undertones dissappear because they're impotent.

There are so many things wrong with the messages Disney sends to our children. It's not just the Princess concept (or the pervasive marketing). Here's our reasoning on why Disney is COMPLETELY banned from our house. (And we have four girls.)
http://www.sparklingadventures.com/index.php?id=667

Ok, seriously, Everyone has thier likes and dislikes about disney and the princesses are no exception except for one important detail.

NONE OF THESE DISNEY STORIES WERE ORIGINALLY DISNEY'S TO BEGIN WITH. DISNEY MERELY TOOK THESE (Mainly Brothers Grimm) LEGENDS AND MADE THEM INTO CHILDREN'S STORIES, SO IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE PRINCESSES, DON'T KNOCK DISNEY FOR IT, THEY ACTUALLY MADE THEM LESS HORRIFYING THAN THEY REALLY WERE.

I just want to throw in some of what I think...

There are a lot of people who talk about why Disney would use situations the way they did within the movies, and how they relate to the time these movies were released...
But does a 5 year old kid really understand that? Can a kid watch these movies and think, "Well it's okay if Ariel gave up her voice to impress a guy because the time it was released was in a sexist era and that the original story she actually dies."
They don't comprehend nor care about any of that, they just see a pretty, skinny, make-up wearing, white girl who falls in love with first sight. Tell me, is that a moral you want your kids to have? Is that something you can see little kids doing? I understand that Disney did this unintetionally, but I don't like that even today this is still going. Our generation has changed, our morals have changed, our ideals have changed, our everything has changed since then.

My work here is done.

Personally I find the original Creator of this blog to be immature and only interested in causing a heated debate. But, over all you are incorrect on all of your assumptions on sexism and racism. And also, no small child really looks in depth into these movies at all, they enjoy the music and the characters (including talking animals) they honestly don't even notice the life lesson in the movie. Its an entertaining movie with songs they can sing and usually funny and amusing characters. I'm a 24 year old college grad, majored in child psychology . I promise you these movies will not in any way corrupt small girls.

Although I'm into learning about big bad Disney, with Walt Disney apparently being antisemitic and the fact that they're obviously a big money-grabbing business rather than some people who want to make little girls happy, these reasons for hating the princesses aren't very good ones. I don't really see how the non-white princess stories are racist, they only show children a snippet of how different places have different cultures and skin colors in a really simple way.
Yeah, Aladdin has his flying carpet which could be considered racist for example, but then it's no worse than any other cartoon.
Most of all, they're made simple because THEY ARE FOR KIDS! Children won't appreciate or maybe even understand the stories they are based on if they're historically accurate. You can say Disney make the stories lighter so kids can like them so they get lots of money, and it's true but that's not a reason to hate them. Do we really want the stories our kids watch to be upsetting and disappointing?

Also on a personal note, Disney's version of Pocahontas made me so aware of how precious nature is, i've grown up with that and I still think it's a beautiful way of showing kids a spiritual outlook on the way the world works. It's right there, it's made literal so they can understand it, that doesn't make it racist, it just makes it very simple.
But yeah the sequel was shit.

Ok,I LOVE Disney, and this crap is nothing! And I love Ariel too.Now about the crap you wrote.Ariel, put under water, probably just to have her wear a bikini. What the heck,would you like to see her boobs? And the stepmother thing, in the little mermaid there isn't a step mother, Ursula is her aunt. And we'll yea she's annoying, but she's a 16 year old! Why does everybody hate her because she gave up her life for a dude. Sure, that's bad but the was the first guy she saw, it makes perfect sense to me. She wanted to actually be a human for like, 10 years. I don't know but I would want to marry the human dude I rescued if I were a mermaid. Her dad is the one who saves her actually. Reasons why:1: traded his life for his daughter's.2: in the ending, he gave her the chance to be human. So dare I say, SUCK IT,JERK!

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