Mass media is crucial in the development of people's representations of the actual world, insights on the physique image, presumptions about social values, the idealism of love and gender roles. Children are the most susceptible populations to these messages owing to their huge intake of media programming as well as rational growth. The Disney Princess franchise, which is perhaps the most dominant element in youths' media, immensely influences the present-day girlhood beauty and image. Their movies take pride in being among the most renowned films while their dolls being one of the most coveted goods in the market. Moreover, their princess manifestation perpetuates typecasts of heroines exemplifying submissiveness, drawing love interests, and having slender and young bodies. In this line, this argumentative essay attempts to reveal the negative effects that these Disney princesses have on young girls' body images.
Majority of the young girls who grow up watching Disney films possess the urge to emulate the princess figures displayed in these silver screens. They are tempted to orient their life goals towards the desire to own expensive items and attract good-looking men. The harmful effects brought about by these movies on girls' self-image and demeanours are likely to go unnoticed by most parents until their daughters are past their teenage lives (Johnson, 1). Studies have revealed that watching gender representations affects one's actual sex-based behaviours, opinions and outlooks (Behm-Morawitz & Mastro, 131). The Disney princesses depict women as highly passive and sexualized beings who take on less involving responsibilities compared to men. Typically, they encompass orthodox feminine features that focus on their domestic roles and voluptuous nature. Recurrent exposure to such contents results in teenage girls and women accommodating these traits as symbols of reality and vital to their desirability (Johnson, 1).
Given the huge media usage, youthful girls are the more at risk of accepting these cruel dogmas, which eventually affects their cognitive growth with regards to the ability to differentiate between fiction and facts. Moreover, prolonged media exposure leads to depression and low self-confidence among these children since they will not only embrace scenes and words extracted from media devices but also start to objectify their personal physique (Johnson, 2). The characteristic Disney princesses propagate formulaic misconceptions about how girls should conduct themselves mainly through sexualization of female characters in these cinema productions. The movie scripts particularly target young girls to individually classify with the princess figures and, in turn, impel internalization of their femininity portrayals (Johnson, 2).
Disney princesses have been categorized into three epochs, namely the first era that consists of movies such as Sleeping beauty and Cinderella, the second era that includes Mulan and Aladdin, and the present era comprising of films such as Frozen and Tangled (Johnson, 10). The presentation of the female form in the first two aeons mirrors the contemporary socio-cultural presumptions of the feminine physique's meaning. The body image is widely regarded as the element that has exhibited little advancement in the current epoch. In the film Tangled, Rapunzel embodies several qualities that are consistent with the ideal beauty canons. Her extremely thin physique coupled with her magical hair gives the viewer an impression of the importance of female physical attributes since she uses these possessions to stop Gothel from getting old (Saladino, 2014). Her mystic powers are lost when her hair is cut marking a huge self-alteration.
Despite efforts to challenge classical notions on beauty through films such as Brave, where the protagonist is portrayed as a girl who is seemingly not keen on her feminine maintenance and physical appearance, her scanty dressing, sleeker hair and thinner form tend to align with the characteristic beauty idealization and norms. Calls for Disney to remove this altered representation were unsuccessful since the film house continued recanting the message (Johnson, 20). Likewise, in Frozen, the appearance of the lead princess character switches drastically after departing from her kingdom. Irrespective of whether one may view this change as marking a sense of womanhood and confidence, it concurrently informs the viewer that a female should alter her body form and become more sexualized in order to find herself. Therefore, young girls are likely to embrace the idea that empowerment is not necessarily an instinctive activity (Johnson, 21).
Typical beauty standards are yet to change in the present era princesses albeit attempts to desexualize Merida in the Brave movie. The concluding messages still have evidence of female objectification through enhancement of physical forms to attract men. The eventual consequence is that a princess-obsessed culture develops among young girls that advocates for pink things, glitter and stylish lifestyles among these children. Girls thus become uninterested with other important activities such as learning in favour of the princess-like life. (Cordwell, 2) acknowledges that until perpetuity sets in, young girls are disposed to accommodate whatever pigeon-holes the society presents to them. Also, parents are likely to experience difficulties trying to expunge the dissonance and contradictions of self-image that their daughters face while watching Disney princesses as they mature. The disastrous impact of beauty defined by aesthetics on these girls is likely to continue into their adulthood and, therefore, prompting them to live in the shadow of men who pursue sexual pleasures (Cordwell, 19).
The Disney princess franchise is justifiably culpable for producing fairy tales that perpetuate the ideal female beauty even as women become more open-minded. Vindications by this film production giant that the external approaches to control women that were fading prompted the need to maintain internal control measures were purely from an economic perspective. The deleterious effects that their productions have on children cannot be compensated by monetary means thus invalidating any moral nous of the above claim. The sustained popularity and pervasiveness of Disney princesses continue to inculcate the sense that physical appeal is necessary for a girl's survival as opposed to other aspects such as morality and intelligence. Unless underage viewership of such films is censored, young girls in the contemporary society and those in future generations will continue to disregard ethical values in favour of material possessions and physical desirability. Eventually, the role of women in the society will continue to lose its worth since they will be unable to participate in nation building activities (Cordwell, 21).
From the above argument, it is clear that the Disney princesses' manifestation perpetuates stereotypes of heroines exemplifying submissiveness, drawing love interests, and having thin and young bodies. Regular exposure to such films results in youthful girls and women accommodating these traits as symbols of reality and vital to their desirability. Eventually, continuous watching of these movies lead to depression and low self-confidence among these children since they will not only embrace scenes and words extracted from media devices but also start to objectify their personal physique. Moreover, a princess-obsessed culture develops among young girls that advocates for pink things, glitter and stylish lifestyles among these children. They become dispassionate about other essential activities such as education in favour of the princess-like life.
Behm-Morawitz, Elizabeth, and Dana E. Mastro. "Mean girls? The influence of gender portrayals in teen movies on emerging adults' gender-based attitudes and beliefs." Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 85.1 (2008): 131-146.
Cordwell, Caila Leigh. "The Shattered Slipper Project: The Impact of the Disney Princess Franchise on Girls Ages 6-12." (2016).
Johnson, Rachael Michelle. "The Evolution of Disney Princesses and their Effect on Body Image, Gender Roles, and the Portrayal of Love." Evolution (2015).
Saladino, Caitlin Joanne. "Long May She Reign: A Rhetorical Analysis of Gender Expectations in Disney's Tangled and Disney/Pixar's Brave." (2014).
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