Thus, interest in children 's books was growing and fairytales turned into children tales which were carrying moral concern. Along with the 20th century, Walt Disney has changed the concepts of its tales. They were no longer carrying any social message and it put children in a total dream world. At first sight, many Disney tales look innocent but they fundamentally have strong images hidden. For example, Disney draws a female figure that is dependent, which unknowingly cause gender stereotype in society.
As a young girl, I always and still do admire Belle for her intelligence, love for books and bravery in speaking her mind and most importantly, the decision of not changing herself for the world because world often changes. Unlike some of other Disney heroines, Belle’s defining characteristics made the Disney animated movie Beauty and the Beast as a tale old as time. This also leads to many studies on Disney Beauty and the Beast. In this section, I would be providing critical critiques on some of the studies. (Beauty and the Belles Discourses of Feminism and Femininity in Disneyland, Allison, 2002) critically analyzed Belle in a more general and brief historiography of the fairy tale.
Disney tells stories about pretty girls and princes who meet each other once and fall in love. This indirectly implants in children’s mind that appearance and materialism does matter, which might lead to vanity. For instance, the Hunchback of Notre Dame shows us that no matter how caring and kind Quasimodo is, Esmeralda and Phoebus are one couple because they are adequately good-looking. Another research has shown that in Disney classic movies, female characters are praised for their appearances (55%) and only 11% are for their abilities; however, Disney has changed their practice as in the millennial Disney movies, women are commented on their skills and abilities more (40%). (Guo 2016) In my opinion, despite the changes, children could barely realise as my niece still wants to be Elsa or Rapunzel because they are pretty.
The Disney princess movies had a great deal of influence on many young girls watching princesses represent what royalty looked like. The princesses are always beautiful, polite and seeking the love of their Prince Charming. This plays a strong role in perpetuating the idea that being a princess means seeking only love from a man, and a man who contains all the stereotypical masculine qualities; handsome, powerful and rich. For example, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel had to give up who she was in order to win over the affection of her prince charming. She traded in her voice in order to have real legs and near Prince Eric.
The first era of Disney princesses specifically are more accommodating and tend to conform to the traditional portrayal of women roles. They all include the house lady persona and display female practices through their physical appearance (Coyne & Whitehead, 2009). Snow White is viewed as subordinate to the ruler, despite the fact that he is a minor character (Do Rozario, 2004). The film elaborate how she get saved by the Dwarf by going up against local obligations, for example, cleaning and cooking for them (Britain, Descartes, Collier-Docile, 2011). In Cinderella, her housework obligations are a demonstration of accommodation and an attempt to entice her family members.
As you read, reflect upon the way fairy tales made you feel and act as a child. Fairy tales, in reality, implant unrealistic expectations and stereotypes into children’s minds. Let’s first take a look at the general Disney fairy tale movie storyline. In almost every movie, the men have full control over the women’s lives, resulting in the objectification of female characters. For example, Prince Charming is the one to “help” Cinderella get everything she ever wanted.
For example, the princesses Snow White, Aurora, and the most commonly known, Bell and Cinderella depict how the “normal” princess should look like and behave. This increases the stereotype of women needing to marry and live “happily ever after” with their prince charming. Princess Merida of DunBroch is daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor from the Scottish Kingdom in the movie Brave from Disney. Since a child, Queen Elinor schooled Merida on princess duties so in the future, she can get married and become ruler of her kingdom. As an old tradition, the princess should marry one of the lord’s sons to maintain the harmony between the people in the kingdom.
Keeping this transition in mind, this paper uses semiotic analysis of four popular Disney films, namely, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Little Mermaid (1989) and Mulan (1998) to depict the influence of societies ' changing perceptions of women on the portrayal of Disney princesses. These films taking into account the earliest film and certain popular characters that have represented a shift from being the coy damsel in distress to a woman who plays an active role in determining her own destiny. The portrayal of the Disney princess has changed in accordance with the development of women in society over time (1937 to 2013) from demure and traditional to
The female body portrayed in Disney movies, highly depends on the socio- cultural believes of how women’s form should look like in the certain period of time (Herbozo et al., 2014). Disney Princesses are representations of Western ideas of a beautiful woman, such as: slim, attractive, and young. The body image of each princess is idealized, where the lead female character has small waits, full bust, and delicate face features (England et al., 2011). For example, because of Cinderella’s small and delicate feet, her identity could have been revealed, and thus this helped her to find the price (Do Rozario, 2004). In the first era, the female beauty was summarized through hair, lips, and being able to sing and dance.
Young girls and women identify themselves as these character which affects not only how they view themselves but also their future roles in society based on the girls’ unrealistic beliefs. Disney fairy tales illustrate various stereotypical images that can ultimately affect the young minds