Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Glamorized Disney princesses may not be affecting girls the way parents believe

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  • 'da Renegade Mama LINDON, UT
    June 5, 2013 2:21 p.m.

    That's the amazing thing about marketing, and, really hegemony ... the subtle messages are not noticed overtly - yet the underlying impression is absorbed and evaluated as "human nature," and it subversively becomes "the norm."

    Some things to consider: For Mulan to be taken seriously, she had to *pretend she was a boy*. For the Little Mermaid to be able to pursue her true love, she had to *give up her voice*

    Those messages are subtle, sure, but they're MOST CERTAINLY there. It sounds like your nieces are being raised by a pretty cool mama, because if you were to ask these questions to the little-girl-demographic-at-large, you'd most certainly have a different set of answers. And, truthfully, if you were to actually consider how "successful" women (whether in the boardroom or in the kitchen) are expected to behave, you may find your analysis severely lacking.

  • 4Action Salt Lake, UT
    June 2, 2013 11:45 p.m.

    We can either stand up for modesty or not stand up for modesty. It is clear that creators of entertainment do not understand modesty for what it is. They place inordinate value on other so called "virtues", when in reality, modesty is the defense of the soul, and when abused, leads to moral degradation. It would be tragic to ignore the real issue here.

  • phyz Clinton, UT
    June 2, 2013 9:26 p.m.

    I was always on the lookout for "modest" princesses with my daughter. I didn't let her watch Jasmine, Ariel, or Pocahontas because their dresses were just too immodest. We would discuss modesty and how important it is. Imagine my dismay when my sweet 4-year-old daughter said, "Belle wore modest clothes, and then she wore an immodest dress, and then the Beast married her." I about died. Maybe she wouldn't have made the connection had I not stressed modesty so hard, but connect she did. To think they don't notice that, in the media, beauty often equates with immodesty is silly. I even remember pulling my elastic neck dress down 30 years ago to reveal my shoulders in the mirror and thinking how much more beautiful it was to dress that way.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    June 2, 2013 9:17 p.m.

    I don't know the more modern Disney creations. I thought Belle, the last "princess" I saw was a bit "pc"; was she a proto-feminist in the original story? Pocahontas was an early Christian convert among native Americans, but the cartoon is too "pc" to depict such an unfashionable fact.

    My first recollection of a Disney princess "type" was "Cinderella". I was a pre-schooler but still remember some of the characters in the cartoon, though had no thought that it was "real" but just a child's story. At a much later age I reflected that the ugly people were also bad which was rather unfair and unreal, and that it was assumed that the handsome prince was good.

    Is it possible that the "artless" responses of the little girls mentioned in the article were repeating the explanations of good parents. If so that's good, sounds like someone is doing a good job of transforming superficial stories. If not that's also good and very hopeful.

    In Disney cartoons I saw involving "princess" types they're always pretty, more recent ones sometimes superficial and their fathers stupid. Cinderella and Snow White were sweet, gentle and feminine.

  • bored Lindon, UT
    June 2, 2013 6:30 p.m.

    Sounds like too many readers take this stuff too seriously (and are a little uptight). Disney is not, and never will be, the source of modesty, or truth. All you have to do is watch the Disney channel for a while to realize just how far they are from that. The movies are well done, and most follow the same story line with a few minor changes. Getting all philosophical about Disney movies is pointless in my opinion. Virtually every movie ever made is similar, in that they have a hero and a villain.

    It's about entertainment, and it's also a choice whether to view these movies, or not. It's really that simple - no hidden agendas, no evil lurking behind the way they choose to present a character. It's entertainment, and we can take it or leave it.

    I thoroughly enjoy watching these Disney classic movies. In my view, the better question to ask would be "How much prime-time television do you watch?" Now that's where you'll find a lot more trash and hidden agendas...even in the sitcoms of the Disney channel.

  • OnlyInUtah Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 2, 2013 5:48 p.m.

    As a young boy I loved all cartoons and hoped to one day become another "Walt Disney". Cartoons taught me to dream and use my imagination. I don't think I ever thought that I wouldn't be happy or successful if I didn't look like Popeye or Prince Charming. They were after all just cartoon characters and I recognized that. I think people are making too big of an issue over this. As much as I loved watching the Road Runner I don't go around dropping piano's on animals or people. I knew that eating a can of spinach wouldn't make my muscles grow instantly nor would I be able to wake a girl from an eternal slumber with my kiss.
    I imagine the ones screaming the loudest on this issue are probably the most insecure with their own appearance. It's not their children they are doing this about. It's for their own self worth. Instead of making a fuss about a cartoon character, go hire a shrink and get some help.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    June 2, 2013 7:21 a.m.

    Most times I worry less for my daughter about whether the princess du jour wears a clam shell bikini top or exposes her navel and much more about the messages she receives about what it means to be a woman. Should she, like Belle, take pride in saving a man who behaves poorly towards others (two nieces caught in this trap)? Should she, like Mulan, buck tradition in order to play roles uncommon to women? Should she, like Cinderella, work hard and wait for a man to come make her life happy? Many of these Disney princesses engage in both positive and negative behaviors from my perspective as a father to a 9 year old daughter. It is probably most important that I learn to interact with her effectively regarding that which she is viewing.

    By the way, I do like what the Princess Festival is doing in regards to defining princesses. I think that organization is much more conscientious in using the attraction of princesses to build the character of young girls.

    June 1, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    Some people simply have way too much time on their hands. You worry about the Disney message of a few cartoons. I suggest you worry less about this and more about real life. (oh and maybe the ABC Family Chanel).

  • wamba Layton, UT
    May 31, 2013 5:03 p.m.

    The author completely misses the point when she asks kids to define princesses. The dangerous messages we give our kids are the subtle, unspoken messages that seep into kids' beliefs without their thinking about them or noticing them. So of course they're not going to be the things kids put into words.

    A little girl who cuts up her t-shirts and says, "But mommy, princesses don't cover their shoulders!" has picked up on a message without anyone explaining it to her.

  • JND Little Rock, AR
    May 31, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    Nothing wrong with beautiful but ever seen a chubby character that wasn't the comic relief? A black prince? You don't have to say fat=ugly to convey that message. Do you have any overweight friends? Way to go! You are sending the correct message to your kids that a person is a person. Do you have any multicultural friends? This sends a message, too. Do you complain about your weight? Do you spend lots on clothes? Who do you think is beautiful in the media? Chances are they look like a Disney princess. When you kids hear/see you saying how beautiful someone is who doesn't fit the unnatural standard set by the World you could be saving their life or their friends' lives. Did you see the article about the Victoria's Secret model who quit and what her 8 year old cousin said to her? I think there should be an equal number of "beautiful" skinny and chubby princesses. What does beautiful mean anyway? Does it mean pre-pregnancy weight? Does it mean never had a baby body? Does it mean looking like a teenager forever? See the problem?

  • Herr Jones Kansas City, MO
    May 31, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    I believe some of the issue surrounding the changes are the result of the media covering it. If Disney made the change, didn't issue a press release and no media outlet wrote a story about it, would anyone care? I think much of what becomes an issue to discuss is generated by the media to sell papers, TV time or internet reading. If you saw the changes to Merida for the first time on the store shelf, would you think "Disney sexualized the character" or would you think "Disney altered the image to sell more stuff" (my perfered thought).

    Why is it that cartoon influences on girls is more frequently discussed then boys? Robin Hood was my favorite Disney cartoon when I was 4, 5 and 6. HE DIDN'T WEAR PANTS!!!! My mom had no worries that the terrible influence of the pantless hero (who was a theif) would cause me to strip down and run around stealing the neighborhood blind. 30 years later I'm sure she's more concerned about what I do with my homemade bow and arrow than being without pants.

    They are CARTOONS, sometimes I think we give them more credit than they deserve.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 31, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    Bottom line with "Brave" is that Disney got it right the first time and their customers didn't like the change. Sometimes, "new and improved" isn't "improved" at all.

  • Another Perspective Bountiful, UT
    May 31, 2013 12:23 a.m.

    Why exactly is it wrong for Disney to have a beautiful princess?

  • JND Little Rock, AR
    May 30, 2013 9:29 p.m.

    I agree with Terrie. The princesses are terrible role models. Ariel wants something she can't have so much she disobeys her father and makes an evil deal with a witch. Because of this she is able to find the love of her life and with a little ahem boy language they fall in love and get married. Kids who are being well raised can side step some of the non positive messages from these movies but children who are not especially those without positive male role models and/or mothers who are in the dating scene may not have the tools necessary to seperate fact from fiction. The last thing they need to see is that love is something you can not control or understand. In real life there are too many teenage girls willing to do anything for "love." It breaks my heart. Is it Disney's fault? No! Most definitely not! But they are definitely not helping.
    P.S. Ever watched the Disney channel? Its like Soap Opera prep for kids. Agh!

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 4:17 p.m.

    I think that the point brought up about a lasting effect into the teen years is an important one. The author points out that she did not notice how the princesses dressed until she was older. I think that such sexualization is not lost on teenagers.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2013 7:55 a.m.

    You can make an extremely valid case for all of them (especially Pochoantas - a real life Indian princess), but my favorite was Tianna. Why? Because she wasn't wandering around hoping things would change. She was out there, working her butt off, and making her dream happen - without a man!

  • Robyn Davis Vancouver, WA
    May 29, 2013 2:13 p.m.

    Thank you for this article!! I love most ( of the Disney princesses because they are great characters and they teach really good principles by example.
    Belle - being smart and confident even though she's different and doesn't fit in.
    Cinderella - always graceful and kind even when others are not.
    Tiana - hardworking and honest.
    Mulan - brave, the whole story is about her helping her father.
    Merida - yeah she made a mistake but she fixed it
    Rapunzel - loyal, honest, and very creative
    Pocahontas - adventurous and brave
    Snow White - kind and gentle (even though she broke into someone's home and cleaned it)
    Aurora - hello, she was devastated to find out she was a princess and she couldn't get to know more about the man she had met earlier (thankfully it ends happy for her). As well, it's obvious from the fairies botched birthday party that Aurora did most of the house work in that family
    I guess it's all in what we look for in these women.

  • Terrie Bittner Warminster, PA
    May 29, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    I think the author has missed an important point. That these girls didn't notice the lack of modesty is a sad thing--we've reached a point where we're not worried about exposing children to immorality. They are used to see immodestly dressed women. However, these princesses leave an impression in their minds that will influence who they are when they are ten or twelve. Here in Philly there was an uproar when a middle school outlawed strapless gowns at dances--the parents and girls were comfortable being sexy so young because we taught them to be comfortable with it.

    As for some of the other princesses...Belle married her kidnapper. That's called the Stockholm Syndrome. Cinderella married a man who knew so little about her he didn't recognize her when he saw her again--it was all about her looks. The prince wouldn't love the mermaid when she was disabled (no voice) but did when she got her voice back. Not really role models!

    This new princess is important. Let's let her celebrate modesty.