In Defense of the Disney Princess
I don’t think banning children from watching Disney films such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid is necessary or productive
I recently saw a segment on This Morning arguing whether fairy tales are sexist, and then saw an article talking about how Kira Knightley has banned her daughter from watching Cinderella and The Little Mermaid because she doesn’t think that these women are ‘feminist’ enough. And, I’m sorry Kira Knightley, I love you, but I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous in my life.
I don’t think banning children from watching Disney films such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid is necessary or productive. These Disney movies are based on age old fairy tales, and they are precisely that. TALES, imaginary, they’re stories. Fiction. I grew up watching the likes of Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid and I love them all in different ways. The fact that Cinderella ‘waited for a man to save her’ (she didn’t she just wanted to go out and party), or Ariel gave up her voice for a man she just met (even though she had wanted to be part of the human world long before she met him) had no effect on how I feel about myself as a women now. I know I can save myself. I know I don’t need a man to save me. I know not to give up anything for a man. Do you know why? Because it’s not the work of fictions job to teach me that, it’s the job of the parents.
I think children are much more intelligent that we think. I like to think that with the right upbringing they will be able to differentiate between right and wrong, what’s real life and what isn’t, because me, and all the other empowering women in the world, have been able to. Banning these stories is only teaching young people that these Disney princesses have done something so terrible that they’re not even worthy of your time. That they shouldn’t be listened to. And it’s saying that all of their good qualities are overshadowed by the one ‘wrong’ thing that they did.
By banning Cinderella, who supposedly was waiting for a man to save her, again, she didn’t. She just wanted to go out and party. I’d also like to point out that it was in fact the mice that saved her from the locked room thank you very much. But by banning Cinderella, you are also banning the message to always “have courage and be kind”. You are banning the message to make friends with people who don’t look like you (THE MICE!!). May I remind you that Cinderella snuck out when her step mother told her not to? Would you ban watching Cinderella because of that? No, you wouldn’t because you teach children that that’s wrong. So you can equally teach a child that they can save themselves.
By banning The Little Mermaid, who gave up her voice for a man, you are also giving up the belief of not accepting that there is only one life for you. You are banning the message of dreaming of bigger things and of bigger worlds. You are banning the message of learning about other cultures. You are banning the message of spreading your wings. So yes, Ariel did give up her voice for the chance to part of the human world. But as a parent, you can teach that giving up something for a man is wrong.
As I’ve grown up, a big part of who I am is shaped by the real people I know in my life and not the stories that I watched on TV. Because the real people I know have louder voices. They’re around me for longer than an hour and a half. They’re with me every day. So you keep watching Cinderella and loving The Little Mermaid, because I believe that we cannot be so easily influenced. I believe that we, as women, are much stronger than that. I believe that we live in a progressive world. I believe that we can recognise that fairy tales and the Disney Princesses are precisely that; just tales.
And I think no one can put it better than my own Mother Why we shouldn’t be so quick to shun princesses